The journey through football is almost over for Anthony Robey, Jalen Fitzpatrick and six other Temple seniors, who dropped their final home game to Cincinnati 14-6 Saturday at a near empty Linc. Their journey through life is soon to begin.
They’ve seen a lot and accomplished much during their time in Cherry and White, which will end Satuday in New Orleans vs. Tulane, unless 5-6 Temple can win and then get a bowl invitation the following day.
“I remember we were 8-4 (in 2010) and never made it to a bowl game,’’ said Robey the fifth-year senior defensive back who’s already graduated and is working on his masters in criminal justice.”Who knows what’s gonna happen? But we’re still going go out there next week and play hard and shoot for our 6thwin.It’s crazy looking back on everything, and just how fast it went. I just wish we could have won [Saturday].”
After undergoing sports hernia surgery, followed by a later surgery to remove scar tissue, Robey has done all he can off the field to help resuscitate a defense which has improved dramatically this season.
“The defense has been awesome,’’ said Robey, who began his Temple career under Al Golden, then saw Steve Addazio come in for two years, followed by Matt Rhule. “It’s really developed since last year.They said it would take a year learning the ins and outs of this defense, so I know next year it will be even better.”
Now can Rhule and company fix the offense — which managed only 267 yards and two field goals vs. the 8-3_Bearcats –as sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker continues to struggle?
“We felt like we had the matchups we wanted,” said Fitzpatrick, the walk-on receiver who caught passes for 77 yards, giving him a team best 50 receptions for 702 yards and six touchdowns. “We exploited them and had a lot of positive plays, but we didn’t finish any drives today.That will definitely be corrected for next week. But I don’t think guys are going to press just because they’re thinking about a bowl game. That’s how you lose.But it would be great getting to a bowl game. Not just for the seniors, but for the whole team to experience it, so they know what to do for next year and going forward.”
When they look back, though, both Robey and Fitzpatrick can’t believe how quickly it’s gone.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Fitzpatrick said. “I wasn’t really recruited very hard, so I was just thankful to be in college.It’s gone pretty fast, but it will end well if we win a bowl game.”
Perhaps even more so for Robey, who’s seen it all.
“It’s tough going through three different coaches and three different position coaches,’’Robey said. “Not every college athlete goes through that.You just try to learn the defense as fast as you can. Try to get acclimated with the new coach and go from there.We’ve come a long way. We’re still trying to build. We’re not satisfied with what we’ve done.”
While the seniors won’t be around to see the end result, their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed in the lens of building a football program.
“Some of these guys started as walk-ons,” said Rhule, who also will lose running back Kenny Harper, tight end Wanemi Omuso, backup quarterback Connor Reilly and three others. “Some started with Al Golden. Some with Steve Addazio.But they all have one thing in common. They survived. They lasted, and just did everything right.”