Vasconez to miss rest of senior season

Senior tennis player Hernan Vasconez will miss his final season of tennis eligibility after suffering a torn ACL.

According to a university spokesman, the injury occurred while practicing and getting ready for the upcoming semester’s season in his hometown of Ambato, Ecuador.

The lone senior on the team has amassed a 33-31 record in singles play and a 22-19 record in doubles during his three and a half years of competition at Temple.


Young’s performance recognized

Junior cornerback Tavon Young was awarded American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of Week for his breakout performance Thursday night against Vanderbilt.

Young had two interceptions and two tackles in his first game of the 2014 campaign, more interceptions than he had all of last year.

Young’s practice performance heading into the opener earned him the number one jersey, a jersey weekly given out to the toughest guy of the week.

Defensive captain and starting linebacker Tyler Matakeich believes Young’s performance is just an example of he’s capable of.

“[Tavon] has got a nose for the ball, he makes plays,” Matakevich said. “He showed it,  it was a big stage and he just went out there and played his game.”

In addition to Young, starting quarterback P.J. Walker earned honorable mention for his 2 touchdown, 207 yard performance.

Owls set to face new-look Vanderbilt.

In order to prepare for Vanderbilt’s new coach Derek Mason, a former Stanford defensive coordinator, coach Matt Rhule and his staff inadvertently learned more about Pac-12 than the Commodore’s conference itself.

“I’ve been studying Stanford a lot,” Rhule said. “I probably know more about the Pac-12 than any other conference watching Stanford.”

The Owls will be the first to match up against the new-look 3-4 defense that was so successful underneath the regime of Mason and now NFL head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Much like the 2013 Owls, the Commodores began training camp with an open competition for quarterback, eventually claimed by top 2013 contributor sophomore quarterback Patton Robinette.

Robinette, a dual-threat quarterback, will test the Owls defense, which allowed 473.6 yards per game in 2013.

Players to watch


 Offense: P.J. Walker QB

Heading into the year as an incumbent starter, Walker has set the bar for himself higher as a passer. With the third highest passer efficiency rating (150.8) in the American, Walker has already shown the ability to deliver the ball.

Despite only throwing seven interceptions to twenty touchdowns in his six games, Walker appeared careless with the football, with seven fumbles on the year.

Walker will also have the advantage of starting the season against a Commodore’s defensive backfield that is returning none of its starters from last year and set to start three underclassmen at both corner spots as well as strong safety.

 Defense: Sean Chandler CB

                Coming off an impressive camp with numerous interceptions in scrimmage play, slot cornerback Sean Chandler could very well prove to be a playmaker.

                While being the slot corner behind senior Anthony Robey and junior Tavon Young,Chandler should see plenty of playing time facing up against the Commodore’s West Coast style offense.


Offense: Patton Robinette QB

                Robinette, who recorded  four touchdowns and five interceptions in limited time, will look to use his big 6-foot-4, 214-pound frame to exploit a relatively inexperienced Temple secondary.

Robinson, who spent his 2013 season mostly as a backup, will need a strong performance in order to retain the starting position he won during camp.

Defense: Caleb Azubike

Azubike, who is coming off a season where he posted 31 total tackles, is expected to flourish in Mason’s 3-4 scheme.

Expected to line up as a 6-foot-4, 260-pound outside linebacker with 4.65 40-yard speed, Azubike’s physical tools mixed with Mason’s unknown scheme for him will make for an interesting matchup against Azubike and offensive tackles Eric Lofton and Dion Dawkins.

Temple athletic cuts made official

On Dec. 6, roughly 200 student-athletes were given the news that some would be playing their program’s final games in their following season. The aftermath was five months of advocating, fundraising and partial salvation.

However, as of July 1, the baseball, softball, men’s gymnastics and men’s indoor and outdoor track & field programs officially disappeared from Temple athletics.

Crew and Rowing, who were originally a part of the teams to be cut, evaded the decision following financial assistance from H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest and funding from the city.

Men’s gymnastics, while no longer a varsity Temple sport, will continue as a club sport, but will lose all scholarships and a sizeable amount of funding.

Temple’s cuts have continued the alarming precedent set by other ailing Division I programs who have opted to drop sports teams in order to free up money to fund higher revenue sports such as football and basketball.

E.J. Smith can be reached at or on Twitter at @ejsmitty17.

Men’s soccer releases 2014 schedule

Temple men’s soccer released their schedule for the 2014 fall season on Saturday.

The Owls will begin their season August 19 against Lafayette College at Ambler Sports Complex, a team they did not face last season.

 The opener kicks off a four-game homestand for the Owls, concluding with a match versus Sacramento State on August 31.  Temple finished with a home record of 7-1-2 last season.
After their opening homestand, the Owls will hit the road for four straight matches, starting with one at Penn State on September 5.  Temple finished with an away record of 3-3-2 last year.
The Owls will also face three teams from the Philadelphia Soccer Six this season: Penn and Drexel at home, and La Salle on the road.  Temple earned the title of Philadelphia Soccer Six Team of the Year last year, due in part to a 10-4-4 record, a surprise considering they were picked to finish last in the American Athletic Conference in a preseason poll.
Temple will face seven opponents from last year’s NCAA tournament, including in-state teams Penn State, Penn, and Drexel.  Their conference schedule begins September 27 at home against Cincinnati and continues through the end of the season, excluding a road match against Yale on October 14.

-Steve Bohnel

Player coaches make big impact at football camp

Following an NCAA rule change, student-athletes were permitted to participate in university-affiliated camps for the first time this summer. When asked what the biggest contribution the player coaches were responsible for at their youth football camp on June 22, starting quarterback P.J. Walker made it plain and simple.


“We call it the juice, we bring the energy to the camp. We’ve got guys jumping around like it’s an intense scrimmage. We had guys talking trash at lunch and had a great one-on-one drill because of it,” Walker said.

With a turnout of roughly 200 kids, the camp presented a bevy of players, from 11 year-old Bryant Rhule to heavily recruited upperclassmen.

With camps being held on the same day by numerous local schools including the University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University and Penn State, getting quantity as well as quality can be a competition.

“There are a lot of one-day camps now, you have to really have a good camp the kids want to come to,” Head Coach Matt Rhule said.

The competition among the players was much greater than the fight for attendance however, most notably when the camp converged into one-on-one drills.

With a dozen player coaches giving pointers and loudly cheering on their respective positions, wide receivers ran routes against defensive backs, as the camp’s quarterbacks alongside Walker tried to find the openings.

The effort in the drill was attributed to the intensity of the player coaches by linebacker Tyler Matakevich.

“We just brought the energy, we tried to get on the guys a little bit,” Matakevich said. “Everyone is here trying to showcase their talent.”

Cornerback Anthony Robey, who attended a Temple football camp during his high school years, got to attend this camp as a redshirt senior player alongside a few of his hometown coaches.

“It was one of the most memorable, fun camps I had been to at the time.” Robey said, “it was really something to be here with some of my old coaches. It’s a nice feeling seeing them come back and acknowledging you. Now, just as they tried to help me get better in high school, I’m trying to help these kids get better as well.”

E.J. Smith can be reached at or on Twitter @ejsmitty17

University to use new property for athletic fields

Shortly after being closed by the School Reform Commission, the former William Penn High School was sold to Temple University for the SRC’s asking price of $15 million. Part of the property, located on N. Broad Street, will be demolished and converted partly into an athletic facility and recreation space.

According to a university statement, the field space will be designated for the soccer and lacrosse teams, a welcome change for the soccer team, which currently travels to the Ambler campus for home games. The remaining space will be used for university intramural and club sports.

The school building itself will remain and be changed into a job-training academy organized by laborer’s union and buying partners the Laborer’s District Council Education and Training/Apprenticeship Fund.

The 4-1 SRC approval of the sale closed any community hope that William Penn would be reopened after being “temporarily” closed in 2009. At the time of closing, then superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman told community members the school would reinvent itself into a career and technical academy for William Penn students in the time of five years.

-E.J. Smith

Television designations and times set for football team

The American Athletic Conference has announced the beginning of the conferences’ television start times and which channel certain games will be aired on during the 2014 season.

The Owls’ game against Houston on October 7 is slated to start at 9 p.m. and aired on ESPNU. Additionally, Temple’s November 7 home game against Memphis will be aired at 7:30 p.m., also on ESPNU.

Against Memphis, the Owls will look to have a similar performance to last year, where they notched their lone conference win in a 41-21 blowout on the road.

The Owls will also play Delaware State on September 20, which will be aired on ESPN3.

In addition to Temple’s televised games, the American boasts six games set to be aired on ABC and/or ESPN including Central Florida’s matchup against conference foe Houston on ESPN and Connecticut’s early September game against non-conference opponent Boise State.

-E.J. Smith

American releases two-division format, Temple in East

After a 2013-14 season that showcased four first-round NFL draft picks, the American Athletic Conference looks to follow their inaugural year with more improvements.

Among these improvements will be the two-division format announced Friday by the conference. The new East-West format will comprise of six teams in each division. The winners of their respective division will face off in the first conference championship game for The American.

The change, which was unanimously approved by conference’s chief executive officers, pitted Temple in the East division alongside Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina and South Florida.

In addition to conference play, the American has many formidable non-conference games, including the Owls’ season opener against Vanderbilt. In addition, The American will also face South Eastern Conference teams South Carolina and Texas A&M as well as Big 12 schools Missouri, Oklahoma and Baylor.

Temple, which finished the season tied with Memphis at a conference-worst 1-7 American record, will return top offensive performers including dual-threat sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker and senior running back Kenneth Harper.

In addition to the division alignment announcement, Aresco also announced that next year will implement an eighth referee for conference games and a new tiebreak procedure. The tiebreak procedure allows co-champions and rewarding the co-champion ranked highest by the College Football Playoff Committee with the automatic bowl bid for the American.