First and foremost, let's get this out of the way. Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin has a great name. Like, a really terrific name. When I circled the Buffalo at Temple game on my calendar, I intended to closely watch several players, none of them were named Ya-Sin.
My original watch list:
- Buffalo QB Tyree Jackson
- Buffalo WR Anthony Johnson
- Buffalo LB Khalil Hodge
- Temple QB Frank Nutile
- Temple DT Michael Dogbe
- Temple S Delvon Randall
It wasn't long into this game before Ya-Sin commanded my attention. A listed 6-foot-1, 190 pound cornerback, Ya-Sin has started strong this season. In doing so, he's also making the most of a difficult set of circumstances.
This time last year, Ya-Sin was a member of the Presbyterian College football program. But the school announced it would no longer be offering football, which prompted him to transfer to Temple for his final season of eligibility.
In this close loss to Buffalo, Rock Ya-Sin was comfortably the best Temple Owl on the field. First, there was the high point interception on 4th and 2 on a deep target in the end zone. Then, an interception on a two-point conversion attempt.
That play was run back for two points for Temple, but an illegal block in the back brought those points off the board.
There were also several passes defensed on third down, showing good extension to greet the football. As this game swung into crunch time, Ya-Sin was there with an *almost* diving interception, a play that showed good reactionary quickness. An official review would go on to overturn the play but the damage was done on 3rd down.
Yes, he was also beat for a late touchdown to put Buffalo back in front midway through the 4th quarter. But QB Tyree Jackson unleashed a picture perfect back shoulder throw that was indefensible, even with tight man coverage. Temple would go on to tie the game again.
On the final defensive drive, Ya-Sin was targeted on 3rd and 10. And Ya-Sin was airtight on the hip of the receiver, breaking up the play.
Sure, roughing the passer extended the drive and Buffalo would go on to win the football game. But the point is this: Rock Ya-Sin has phenomenal ball skills. Ya-Sin also illustrated attractive turn and run skills at the line of scrimmage, going stride for stride with the Buffalo skill players on boundary.
It was a huge test because in this contest, Ya-Sin has already faced one of the stiffest battles he will play all year.
Ya-Sin was effective in man to man coverage against Buffalo's Anthony Johnson, who was one of the most productive college receivers returning in 2018. Ya-Sin, with his length and physicality, was instrumental to keeping Johnson out of the end zone until the final minute.
NOTE: Buffalo deliberately put Johnson into the slot for that 29-yard game winning touchdown, scheming him into man coverage against a Safety as compared to having to run against Ya-Sin's coverage.
The biggest tests the Temple secondary will face the rest of the way? A trip to Maryland next weekend and an October date with WR Trevon Brown and ECU. With a resume game established early in the season, expect to see Rock Ya-Sin continue to build momentum in his first (and only) season with the Owls.