Penn State Football: 5 Keys to the Game vs. Temple

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2012

Penn State Football: 5 Keys to the Game vs. Temple

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    Bill O'Brien finally accomplished what Penn State fans have been waiting for.

    The Nittany Lions' win over Navy in Week 3 earned O'Brien his first victory as head coach, giving the program a hint of positivity in a desperate time.

    Now, Penn State looks to build on that momentum against their in-state rival Temple. The Owls are 1-1 and are coming off of a bye week. They won't be a pushover, and Penn State must bring their best game once again.

    We know what Allen Robinson can do by now. Let's take a look at five other keys to Saturday's game between Penn State and Temple.

Pressure Chris Coyer

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    Chris Coyer has struggled behind center for Temple this season, despite his dual-threat abilities. He's a threat in the pocket or on the edge, but Penn State must make him one-dimensional on Saturday.

    The Temple quarterback is 12-of-29 for 239 yards and three touchdowns this season. He's only thrown one interception, making that completion percentage seem like less of an issue.

    He can run as well. He's carried the rock 33 times for 133 yards and one score so far. He's not all that fast, but he understands how to pick his way through defenders.

    Penn State can eliminate Coyer's legs by attacking him.

    Get to him, knock him down and make sure he knows that you're there. That's the message Ted Roof must send to his front seven.

Don't Let Matt Brown Hit the Second Level

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    Senior running back Matt Brown is only 5'5'', but he is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands.

    Temple will lean on Brown for big plays on Saturday. He won't be mistaken for former Owl Bernard Pierce, instead relying on his blazing open-field speed to break long runs.

    He has 29 carries for 176 yards and a touchdown this year. That doesn't look like much, but he's averaging 6.1 yards per carry. If the Nittany Lions don't control the line of scrimmage, Brown could keep this game interesting.

    Bottling up Brown at the point of attack is huge. His size doesn't allow him to do much damage while running north and south, but he creates problems when he hits the second level of the defense.

    Penn State can't let this speedster reach the open field.

Establish the Ground Game

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    According to Greg Pickel of The Patriot-News, Bill O'Brien said on Tuesday that Bill Belton and Derek Day are both "possible" for this week's game.

    O'Brien also stated, "I would say that Day is a little bit ahead of Belton, but they are both day-to-day, and we are going to continue to monitor that."

    That's encouraging news, but Penn State may have to go without both ball-carriers again. That leaves Curtis Dukes, Zach Zwinak and Michael Zordich to carry the load on the ground.

    Those three lack speed, but they wear opponents down up front.

    Temple allowed 144 rushing yards to Maryland in Week 2 and 212 to Villanova in Week 1. The Nittany Lions hold a major advantage in the trenches, and O'Brien must establish that early.

    Penn State is known for their ground game even though it hasn't been there this season. Look for that to change in Week 4.

Utilize Kyle Carter

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    Kyle Carter's role should expand every week, judging by what I see on the field. Not only does he fit Bill O'Brien's system like a glove, but he continues to improve week to week.

    Carter has caught 11 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown this season. O'Brien has worked in other tight ends, like Jesse James, Garry Gilliam and Matt Lehman as well, but there's no denying who the No. 1 player is in the group.

    He has size, athleticism and a natural feel for the position. Polish will come with time, and he should get that in O'Brien's tight end-happy offense.

    Everyone wondered how Penn State would use their tight ends this season, and they haven't disappointed. Carter will line up all over the field on Saturday, and Matt McGloin would be wise to throw the ball his way.

    The Owls have a decent pass defense, but they did surrender 190 yards to Maryland through the air. That doesn't seem like a lot until you realize the Terrapins are No. 119 in the nation in passing.

Turn Well-Rested into Rusty

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    Temple hasn't played since their September 8 loss to Maryland; that's going to go one of two ways.

    The Owls will either be well-rested, prepared and focused when they take the field, or they will be rusty, slow and forced to play catch up. Their play will have a lot to do with it, but Penn State's squad must force their hand.

    The Nittany Lions need to come out of the gate strong and hit Temple hard from all angles.

    Penn State's home crowd will be behind them, and they're coming off of a win for the first time this season. A fast start could put this game out of reach early on.