Tom Dougherty

Owls’ defense stifles No. 21 Memphis

By Tom Dougherty, The Temple News

The last two weeks, Temple’s defense has been missing something.

Fundamentals and a certain approach the team even had during its 2-10 season in 2013.

“We have a mentality of if you get in the red zone, we’re not going to let you score,” senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich said after Temple (9-2 and 6-1 in the American Athletic Conference) defeated Memphis, the No. 21 team in the College Football Playoff Rankings, 31-12 Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. “We finally got that back, got that edge back. You saw it today.”

After allowing 40-plus points in back-to-back games, the Owls held the Tigers, the No. 6 scoring offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision, to 12 points. It was also Memphis’ first game without a touchdown since Sept. 27, 2014, against the University of Mississippi.

The Tigers’ 12 points were also the fewest they’ve scored since beating Temple, 16-13, Nov. 7, 2014.



Temple set for battle with ‘great’ Memphis QB Paxton Lynch

By Tom Dougherty,

The last time Temple faced a projected NFL first-round quarterback, the Owls had 10 sacks, returned an interception for a touchdown and held Penn State to 10 points.

On Saturday afternoon, TU (8-2, 5-1) kicks off against Memphis (8-2, 4-2) in an important American Athletic Conference game at Lincoln Financial Field.

With that comes the opportunity to face another estimated Sunday quarterback in the Tigers’ Paxton Lynch.

“That’s cool. They said the same thing about (Christian) Hackenberg,” linebacker Avery Williams said Tuesday. “He is a great quarterback. We’re going to face great quarterbacks.

“This is Division I football — everyone’s a great quarterback. I love his style. He’s got speed, a big arm, big body. We’re going to prepare for him like we prepare for anybody else.”


Once ‘destined’ to play for Flyers, Simon Gagne eager to be honored

By Tom Dougherty,

When Simon Gagne heard his name called at pick No. 22 on June 27, 1998, he was a little surprised.

“I never had any meetings with the Flyers before the draft,” Gagne said last Friday on a conference call. “I did have meetings with all the other teams in the league but never with the Flyers.”

The funny thing is, Gagne said, he was almost predetermined to play for the orange and black, as his father, Pierre, and Simon Nolet, a Flyers scout, knew each other from playing hockey.

Pierre Gagne, then a player for the Quebec Junior Aces, befriended Nolet when the two attended the Flyers’ first training camp in 1967. Nolet made the Flyers; Pierre Gagne didn’t.

Nolet went on to play seven seasons for the Flyers, with the 1973-74 Stanley Cup team being his last in Philadelphia. Still, the relationship between Nolet and Pierre Gagne lasted.

It was Nolet who recommended Simon Gagne to then-Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke.

“When I got drafted,” Simon Gagne said, “my dad told me, ‘You were destined to play for the Flyers. Simon was a good friend of mine and he’s the one that pushed your name at the table.'”

Gagne will be honored by the Flyers Tuesday night before their game against the Kings at the Wells Fargo Center for his contributions over 10-plus seasons.


After latest loss, Flyers say struggles stem from lack of shots

By Tom Dougherty,

After his team’s latest loss — a 5-2 defeat to the Capitals on Thursday night — Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol had a simple explanation why his team is struggling to score.

“I don’t think we’re shooting the puck enough,” Hakstol said after the Flyers were outshot — 32-20 — for the ninth straight contest.

“We’re turning down too many opportunities — not Grade A opportunities but just entering the zone and getting pucks on the net. That’s something we’ve got to do a better job of.”

Once set up in the offensive zone on a power play to start the second period, Claude Giroux, along the sideboards, fired a lackadaisical shot toward the Capitals’ net.

With Wayne Simmonds screening Braden Holtby, Giroux’s shot found the back of the net. It was something the Flyers lacked both on the man advantage and even strength against the Caps.

And shooting is something Hakstol believes the Flyers have to do more.


No. 21 Temple knows what’s at stake in crucial matchup with USF

By Tom Dougherty,

Everything Temple football has fought for this season is within reach this Saturday in Tampa, Florida.

A win over the University of South Florida clinches the East Division and a berth in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

“We know what’s at stake,” senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich said Tuesday at Edberg-Olson Hall. “You really can’t start thinking about that stuff.

“You just have to do what you’ve been doing since the beginning — get back to our process and that’s what coaches have been saying.”

Temple improved to 8-1 last Friday night with a 60-40 win over SMU, which is also the last team to score 40 or more points against the Owls’s defense in a 59-49 win on Oct. 26, 2013.


Temple basketball preview: Josh Brown running the show

By Tom Dougherty,

Our City 6 men’s basketball previews begin today with a look at Temple. Above, our “Big Men on Campus Series” begins with Owls forward Jaylen Bond. On Tuesday, our City 6 preview continues with Saint Joseph’s.

Temple has a new man running the show this season — and there are going to be some growing pains.

Junior guard Josh Brown takes over as the starting point guard for Will Cummings, who graduated.

“It will be a little difficult being that we lost a great player,” senior guard Quenton DeCosey said Monday at Temple’s media day.

“But Josh Brown will step up. He’s working extremely hard. He’s a great defender. He’s very poised in the backcourt. Not as much of a scorer as Will, but can get everybody involved.”

Brown served as one of the top reserves last season on an Owls team that finished third in the American Athletic Conference with a 13-5 conference record, 26-11 overall.

This season, TU is expected to take a step back with the departure of Cummings and guard Jesse Morgan. TU was picked to finish sixth in the American in 2015-16.


A more confident P.J. Walker wants Owls focused on having fun

By Tom Dougherty,

This season, there’s something different inside the walls of Temple football’s Edberg-Olson Hall practice facility than the previous two years.

The Owls are looser, relaxed and are having fun. More importantly, they’re playing for each other.

Being 7-1, ranked No. 23 in the AP poll and No. 22 in the College Football Playoff rankings will allow that, but there’s also something junior quarterback P.J. Walker is doing that helps.

“I always harp on the team — don’t stress about nothing,” Walker said Tuesday. “You get a lot of opportunities in football and you don’t ever know when it’s going to be your last.

“You don’t want to go out there playing stressed and have a bad experience because you’re always bothered by things. Just go out there and have fun.”