A plus from this film is that SMU does not appear to have a significant home field advantage.
Fortunately, they do not play football real football games on paper or Madden or Xbox because, if you input all of the relevant statistics into a computer, Saturday’s game (3 p.m., EST) at SMU does not favor Temple in any way.
The Owls have struggled against passing teams and the Mustangs are the No. 8 passing team in the nation. Heck, the Owls have struggled against passing teams for the last two years. These stats against just four foes illustrates that a lot better than mere words:
Not good. Not good at all. Add to that Idaho, freaking Idaho I call them because I still cannot believe Temple lost to that team, had 301 yards against the Owls and it’s hard to imagine SMU not pushing 400 through the air on Saturday.
I think the Owls do have some talent on the back line of their secondary, particularly in players like Anthony Robey and Tavon Young and maybe Young’s interception last week was the start of something big.
Let’s hope so. SMU has a big-time quarterback in Garrett Gilbert, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior who has put up some amazing statistics: 208 completions in 329 attempts for 2,096 yards and 11 touchdowns so far this season. Worse yet, the Owls have shown an alarming tendency for giving up the “easy” patterns, the slant and the out. Brendan Kay used the out to complete 31 of 37 attempts. Two Houston quarterbacks went 29 for 48 with mostly slants over the middle.
SMU coach June Jones, an accomplished college football coach who knows what he’s doing, probably has figured that out by now.
What can Temple do, then?
I’ve always said there are three keys to winning in football, from the Pee-Wee Level to the NFL: 1) Limit turnovers; 2) Protect your quarterback; 3) Put the other quarterback on his ass.
Although all are important for Temple this Saturday, No. 3 should be the No. 1 priority this week if the Owls are going to have any chance to win. Guys like Matt Ioannidis, Shabaz Ahmed and Averee Robinson MUST put relentless pressure on Gilbert. It can’t be a part-time, some-time thing. It must be a full-time thing, both sacks and knockdowns. That’s a lot of pressure heaped upon very few young guys, but if they get to Gilbert early and often, they might be able to force fumbles and interceptions. Robinson had five sacks in the spring game. If he gets two or three in this one and Ahmed a pair and Ioannidis just one, the Owls win going away. Or any combination of five or more. No sacks mean no win. The guys up front must give guys like Robey and Young a chance to intercept the ball by pressuring Gilbert into mistakes.
Those guys have shown signs of coming on and they must all have good games on Saturday if the Owls are going to come away with a win. SMU is beatable. The Mustangs needed a last-second play to beat the lone FCS team on their schedule, Montana State, 31-30. Montana State is 5-2. The Owls failed to beat the lone FCS team on their schedule, losing on a last-second play to 8-0 Fordham.
Nothing on paper says the Owls will win, but this game will be played on the same sprint turf kind of surface the Owls practice on every day and, if they are able to put Gilbert on it enough, they can put the pre-game paper in the shredder.