One of the real cool things about this bowl game in DC is that with football teams representing two big cities in a town with lot of media already around there are no shortage of stories and excitement around a second year bowl game. There is no way we'd get this kind of excitement (even though we'd feel positive about being in a bowl game in Neuheisel's second year) if Bruins were participating in the other available bowl games this season. Add to that, the UCLA athletic department is doing a pretty good job capturing the excitement players are feeling around this game.
The bowl prep started on a weary note for us with some of the drama from last week. However, by watching and listening to our players, I get the sense that they are starting to appreciate the special opportunity they have had in coming to this town for a football game. Just listen to some of our guys talking about their experiences from their third day in DC:
I have to say I have become pretty cynical when it comes to following college athletics and listening to soundbites coming through the media. However, there seemed to be something real in the reflections from Kia, Dean, Sermons, Ware, Viney in the video above. I thought Kia's comments at the end was moving, considering since he hasn't been playing all year after suffering his injury before the season. You get the sense how much he likes being part of this team and that he is excited about the game tomorrow. It's good stuff.
During this early part of this bowl season we have seen number of games in which one team was more excited to be there than the other. Neuheisel doesn't think that will be the case tomorrow. He believes both Temple and UCLA will be fired up at RFK:
"This is one bowl game where both teams are dying to play," Neuheisel said. "We are rebuilding and trying to climb back to being part of the national scene. And from watching the film, we understand we're in for a great game, and we understand that we'll have to give our best effort."
Bruins will have to be give their best effort because they are going to take on one of the best coached teams in the North East. Owls were determined to practice through last week's snow storm and got a little help from one of the hottest teams in the NFL:
"We're getting some good practices in," center John Palumbo said as some of his teammates frolicked in the snow on their way to the team buses. "Guys are having fun, but we're getting focused. It's getting close to game time."
Temple, which traveled 45 minutes from its hotel in downtown Washington to get to Good Counsel, practiced there yesterday and will do so again today. Tomorrow, the Owls will convene for a walk-through at the game site.
Because of the snowstorm that hit Philadelphia last weekend, practice sessions before the team left the city Thursday were conducted in the Eagles' indoor facility at the NovaCare Complex from Dec. 19 tp 21.
"The Eagles were gracious to host us, and we got all of our preparations done," Golden said. "We wouldn't have been able to do it without them."
Well hopefully the Bruins can take care of Temple tomorrow. That way it will even things out for Eagles beating up the
disappointing (choking?) Niners two weekends ago in Philly. Not sure if that connection works but hey there are lot of Niner fans here on BN. More notes and tidbits on the game after the jump.
The situation isn't entirely lucid for the Owls (9-3), either. Junior Vaughn Charlton (1,231 yards, nine touchdowns, nine interceptions) started the first eight games, including the first six victories in a nine-game winning streak. When November started, coach Al Golden opted to go with Stewart (514 yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions).
Golden said Saturday he was unsure which of the two would start, calling it "neck-and-neck" just three days before Temple's first bowl game in 30 years.
That doesn't mean it's a problem for the Owls, whose offensive strength will likely be tailback Bernard Pierce and an imposing line regardless of who starts at quarterback.
"We don't view it as a quarterback controversy, as the media would like to portray it," Golden said. "We view it like any other position, and that's competition. If it's not going the way we need it to go, we feel like we need to make changes."
Clearly, that happened in the middle of the season, and the Owls rattled off three more victories before stumbling at Ohio in their regular-season finale.
And even if Temple doesn't know who will start as it tries to secure just the second 10-win season in school history, it knows precisely what it needs.
"For us, the quarterback is about conducting the game," Golden said. "It's about decision-making, not taking sacks, eliminating negative plays and distributing the football. That's what we need to do in our offense."
Whoever starts and continues for the Owls, the Bruin front-7 will need to get him early and often, disrupting the entire Temple offense. All eyes are going to be on Brian Price, who will probably be playing his last game in a Bruin uniform. It looks like Price, who was profiled in the LA Times today, might have some added motivating if someone forwards him the following comment from the LAT piece:
An NFL scouting director, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the biggest concern is Price's consistency.
"He is a guy who can dominate about 10 plays a game," he said. "He has good lower-body strength, power and initial quickness. He will take plays off. When he wants to, he can be very disruptive. After the first three or four steps, he is not very fast and does not change direction well.
Well there will be nothing like a "consistent" and hopefully dominating performance on national TV tomorrow afternoon RFK that will be helpful to Price's NFL stock. I am hoping the big guy can put together his best performance yet and it would come at a perfect time for him given there are many scouts from around the country are now paying very close attention to him.
Here is to Price and our defense taking control early on tomorrow and sustain their intensity and focus for the entire four quarter. It will not only help Price in terms of situating himself in a better position for next level, it will allow the Bruins take another huge step forward towards reclaiming old glory. Kind of fitting in a city with history.