Other Schools Are Getting the Job Done

Under this offense, P.J. is often faced with impossible down and distance situations. The fix is an easy one.

Under this offense, P.J. is often faced with impossible down and distance situations. The fix is an easy one.

Watching Temple implode like I have so many other times over the past two years, one over-riding thought occurred to me: How do the University of Texas at Freaking San Antonio and Western Freaking Kentucky do what Freaking Temple is not able to do?

Both schools beat teams Temple lost to with arguably far lesser talent than Temple. (Actually, it’s not arguable.) UTFSA beat Houston, 27-7, while Western Kentucky beat Navy for the second year in a row, 36-27 (19-6 last year).

Matt Rhule should have been on the phone with Bobby Petrino before Temple’s loss to Navy and he probably should have been on the phone with Larry Coker before the Houston game but, instead, he is enamored with “the process” and “having the kids trust us.”

One of the few Temple highlights was this hit.

One of the few Temple highlights was this hit.

When Western Kentucky’s  process and Texas-San Antonio’s process is better than your process, you need another process.

UTSA used a two-back approach and pounded Houston inside with quick-hitters led by a blocking fullback. When Houston adjusted by bunching the linebackers and the safeties closer to the line of scrimmage, UTSA quarterback Eric Sosa faked the ball into the belly of his halfback, got a protecting block from his fullback, and found receivers running free through the Houston secondary.

It’s football, not rocket science.



It is apparent to anyone outside “the process”
that Temple’s best chance to win
is to go two backs, pound the ball
with Jahad Thomas behind kick-out blocks
around the perimeter from guys like
fullback Kenny Harper and tight end Colin Thompson
to create short down-and-distance situations
for P.J. Walker. Once that happens, Walker
can fake the ball into the belly of Thomas
and find Temple receivers running so free
through the secondary that he will not
know which one to pick out

Petrino’s process against Navy in a 19-6 win a year ago was using a fullback to get kick-out blocks for his speedy tailback, Antonio Andrews, and Andrews beat Navy outside to the tune of 180 yards. Geez, I wonder if Temple has a speedy tailback and a fullback who can block? The answer is yes in Jahad Thomas and Kenny Harper.  On defense, against Navy, Petrino eliminated Navy’s 2 on 1 and 3 on 2 advantages in the option by blitzing a safety from the blindside, often catching Navy in backfield losses before the Mids could even pitch the ball.

It is apparent to anyone outside “the process” that Temple’s best chance to win is to go two backs, pound the ball with Jahad Thomas behind kick-out blocks around the perimeter from guys like fullback Kenny Harper and tight end Colin Thompson to create short down-and-distance situations for P.J. Walker. Once that happens, Walker can fake the ball into the belly of Thomas and find Temple receivers running so free through the secondary that he will not know which one to pick out. Thomas might not remind me of Bernard Pierce–who had Wyatt Benson as his lead blocker–but he certainly reminds me of Todd McNair, who had Shelley Poole as his lead blocker. Harper is just as good a blocker as Poole was and Poole was great. Temple has not learned to gear its offense to the talent of its players; instead, the Owls force feed this offense on ill-fitting parts.

Under “the process” Walker often drops back to pass, has no time and is forced to throw into incredibly tight windows. Is it surprising that there are so many interceptions and sacks? Not to me.

Temple’s defense allowed Navy to attack the perimeter at will with basketball-fast-break-like 3-2, 2-1 advantages. What Petrino, now at Louisville, had figured out, the, err, braintrust at Temple is slow on the uptake.

Don’t even get me started on Rhule calling a time out with six seconds left in the quarter and 14 seconds left on the play clock.

Must be part of the process.

Temple Football: The Whole World is Watching

gameday

The Sports Bar has taken on a new meaning in American culture, particularly in the past 20 years.

Walk into any one and there are a number of games in different sport on at any time.

Tonight, because of a perfect storm, most of the TVs in every sports bar in America—and some non-sports ones—will be tuned into the Temple football game and I can think of no better time to establish the Temple football brand as a tough and exciting one across the nation than tonight.

For all of the evidence you need, just fast-forward the “guide” section of your TV listings to 9 p.m. tonight. Hit “sports” and this is what shows up:

Women’s World Cup Soccer Qualifying Pre-game Show. Err, no.

PGA Tour Golf. Hey, it’s night time. Who can see what’s happening?

Winchester Legends. Bob heads south of the border to Sonora, Mexico to see Desert Big Horn Sheep. Rather watch sheep watching grass grow than that.

Temple vs. Houston. ESPNU, 9 p.m. Channel 853, Comcast, ESPNU.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

For a Temple fan who has had to beg, plead and endure laughter for many years walking into sports bars all across America while asking for the Temple football game to be put on one TV, this is like dying and going to Heaven—without the dying part.

Now is the best time to change people’s long-held perceptions and misconceptions about Temple football. Let’s hope the ‘][‘ travels well tonight.

Throwback Thursday: Temple’s Short Week

forever

Became a proud owner of this T-shirt on Saturday, even though it set me back $20. Sold at Temple games. Great idea. Wonder what inspired it? (Unfortunately, get no royalties.)

A year ago at this time, Temple’s short week resulted in a 38-20 loss at Cincinnati.

That was then; this is now.

Temple football game watches. Unfortunately, due to work, I'll be watching from halftime on at Benny the Bum's in Northeast Philly. (Hopefully, the Owls  will have the game in hand by then. :)

Temple football game watches. Unfortunately, due to work, I’ll be watching from halftime on at Benny the Bum’s in Northeast Philly. (Hopefully, the Owls will have the game in hand by then. :)

Temple fans should not be concerned with the short week because this team is a whole lot more mature than last year’s team plus both the Owls and Houston have to deal with the same factors.

Actually, Temple has not done that badly on a short week. Last year, Cincy was the more talented group.  The Owls did not have a short week in 2012. In 2011, in their only short week game, the Owls pummeled Kent State, 34-16, just six days after beating Army, 42-14. In 2010, Temple beat Central Michigan, 13-10, in a short week night game at Lincoln Financial Field.

To me, a short week only benefits the team that gets the extra day and Houston had to travel to Memphis on the same day Temple beat Tulsa, so that’s a wash.

To me, what is more important is how well Temple travels. The Owls go into this game an eight-point underdog and the last time the Owls were eight-point underdogs on the road was at Memphis last year and they won, 41-21. Robbie Anderson and Chris Coyer had good games in that one and they are gone, but P.J. Walker and Jamie Gilmore made similar impacts and they are back.

The Owls were 17.5 underdogs at Vanderbilt and won, 37-7. They were 5-point favorites at Uconn and won, 36-10.

They do not seem to play as well at home and hopefully the trend of being more focused and sticking together and playing well on the road will continue. We have one day to find out.

This is a great opportunity for the Owls to showcase themselves because this game will be on in every bar in America. There is nothing to go up against sports-wise, particularly if the San Francisco Giants close the deal on the St. Louis Cardinals tonight. When was the last time a Temple fan never had to ASK for the Temple game to be put on TV?

Good question and it will remain a rhetorical one because I cannot come up with an answer.

The Cavalry is Coming: Kirkwood and Thompson

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Navy

Keith Kirkwood’s last action was this touchdown reception against Navy in November. He only became eligible when Hawaii coach Norm Chow granted him his release last week, something Joe Paterno refused to do for Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele. Kirkwood gives Temple a terrific 1-2 punch at wide receiver with Jalen Fitzpatrick.

If Colonel Reno would have been close enough with his 7th Cavalry Brigade to save General Custer, the battle at Little Big Horn might have went the other way.

The Cavalry might not have been on the way for Custer, but it certainly is coming for head coach Matt Rhule and the Temple Owls in the form of impact players Colin Thompson and Keith Kirkwood. Football is often a battle of attrition, with the teams who win conference championships many times being the ones who suffer the fewest losses of starters due to injury.

Almost never do you hear of teams adding new players midway through the season who can make an immediate impact, but that’s the case with Temple adding five-star SEC tight end recruit Thompson and four-star wide receiving recruit Kirkwood. Both got spot duty for the Owls recently, but now appear to be ready to make a full-time impact on Friday night against Houston. Both have been declared eligible. Thompson is a transfer from Florida and Kirkwood is a transfer from Hawaii.

As John Kerry once said, “Help is on the way.”

It could have have come soon enough or at two positions of need. The Owls have not had a playmaking tight end this year or a tall wide receiver who reminds anyone of Robbie Anderson.

Thompson and Kirkwood could fill both needs and Temple will only have to wait a couple of days to find out if this Cavalry has arrived just in time to win this AAC football war. In fact, if you listen hard enough, you can hear the bugle call now:

Temple-Tulsa: The Day After

Outstanding (and also a good report).

When I was a teenager, a friend of mine got a brand new Ford Pinto and the rest of us packed into the car and he took us for a joy ride. It was anything but joyful.  We turned off onto the back roads of Bucks County and found only dead ends before finally backtracking into Philly well after midnight.

“Enjoy the ride,” he said.

Watching Temple beat Tulsa, I had one overwhelming thought: This is definitely a win for the “shut up and enjoy the ride” crowd.

comparison

Sometimes, you have to take off the Cherry and White-colored sunglasses—I have several pair—and look at these things objectively. While Temple is 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference, it struggled to beat a Tulsa team that was hammered, 52-7,  by Oklahoma and 42-17 by Colorado State and lost to Texas State. Not Texas. Not Texas A&M. Not Texas Christian. Not Texas Tech.

Texas State.

I’m under no illusions that Temple is Oklahoma, but I was thinking the Owls would be closer to Colorado State until yesterday. If Tulsa is perhaps the third-worst team in the league behind Tulane and UConn (and it is), it is really hard to imagine the Owls getting two more wins for the rest of the schedule.

They have to play better but, more importantly, they have to scheme better.

It could be so much better because watching Jahad Thomas play was like going back into a time machine and watching the great Todd McNair play for the Owls. Both wear No. 34.  Both have the same running style. McNair had great blocking fullbacks to follow through the hole and Thomas could have the same thing but both great blockers, Kenny Harper and Marc Tyson, are sitting on the bench when Thomas is in the game. McNair’s running opened up the play-action passing game for the Owls back then and Thomas’ running could open up the play-action passing game for P.J. Walker now. The two-back set is supposedly in the playbook, with plays featuring Harper as lead blocker through the hole for Thomas also in the playbook. Houston hasn’t seen that part of the playbook yet. Maybe it’s time to wipe the dust off those pages.

For five games, I have waited like one of those Seventh-day Adventists waiting for the Second Coming of Robbie Anderson. None of those supposedly just-as-tall and just-as-good receivers Temple has reminds me of Robbie Anderson. He ain’t coming back. (I would have had a GA follow him into every class like a stalker but that’s water under the dam. Damn.)

The defense seems to reverting to its bad habits of 2013 in allowing receivers to make great catches in the secondary and sustain drives that should have been stopped. Houston has a great receiver in Devonte Greenway. A successful and sustained running game accompanied by play-action passing could do more to keep the ball out of his hands than any defense.

Enjoy the ride.

Advance the tape to 1:35 before watching  ….. :)