It’s funny (curious funny, not humorous funny) how football works.
The hope—at least with a lot of Temple fans—was that Navy would get beaten up so much by a bigger, stronger, faster, Ohio State team that it would suffer so many injuries that would help Temple a week later.
“Give Temple credit.
A lot of that was all
the third and twos
we couldn’t convert.
We have been converting
those in the past.
… but they beat
our guys up front.”
_ Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo
err, five years ago
Instead, Temple was the school that suffered so many injuries that last year’s starting corner, Anthony Robey, had to play safety. Still, the biggest takeaway from the day to me was the Owls’ shocking inability to play the option as compared to the 2009 Temple team. On that day in Annapolis, the Temple defensive front handled Navy’s offensive line in a 27-24 win. So much so that this is what Navy’s great coach, Ken Niumatalolo said afterward:
“Give Temple credit. A lot of that was all the third and twos we couldn’t convert. We have been converting those in the past. … but they beat our guys up front.”
That was then. This was now: Temple was painfully slow at both defensive ends after showing some speed last week. Don’t know whether it was the heat or not, but Praise Martin-Oguike and Sharif Finch played most of the down and distance situations a week ago against Vanderbilt and those two have outstanding DE speed. Their backups, though, who did get a lot of snaps—probably because of the heat— are slow as molasses. Molasses on top of Navy’s pancake blocking is not a good condiment.
How has Temple gone from “beating (Navy’s) guys” to being beaten at the point of attack? Recruiting should have gotten better after the MAC, not worse. I’d also like to know how Western Kentucky—with Western Kentucky talent—beat Navy’s guys last year in a 19-7 win. Or how Duke’s guys did it in a 35-7 win. Playing Navy is tough, but coaches like Bobby Petrino and David Cutcliffe—and, heck, Al Golden—proved it’s not rocket science.
Going into the game, I thought players like Matt Ioannidis and Averee Robinson would have so much success inside at blowing up the point of attack that they would stretch the option wide and Temple’s linebackers and ends would have the speed to string the option out to the sideline. Instead, Temple’s linebackers were doing the tackling seven, eight, nine yards downfield because Navy was able to turn the corner time after time. The fullback dive play, which did not work in 2009, worked too much on Saturday.
Not a good sign. Neither was wearing black anything on a 99-degree day. That wasn’t well-thought-out. The school’s colors are cherry and white and there are enough innovative ways to make cherry and white look good. The song doesn’t say “Fight, Fight, Fight or the Cherry and the White … and the black.”
Speaking of speed, it’s also becoming increasingly apparent that until Temple recruits someone with “Bernard Pierce” or “Matty Brown” speed and pedigree, the Owls should consider moving Khalif Herbin—who is faster than both Pierce and Brown were and just as shifty if not moreso—to tailback for at least a few snaps a game as a stopgap measure. No one runs any harder than my favorite Owl, Kenny Harper, but he’d best serve the team as a lead blocking fullback for players like Herbin and Jahad Thomas. Harper can still carry the ball a few times for running plays up the middle.
Herbin did not get selected No. 1 in the players’ draft for the Cherry and White game because his teammates like him. He got that honor because he’s a playmaker in the mold of the Seattle Seahawks’ Percy Harvin. The Seahawks find innovative ways to get Harvin the ball. It’s high time for the Owls to find ways to get Herbin the rock.
All of this can be fixed for the Owls to become the best team they can be. They were not the best team they could have been on Saturday. They have a couple of weeks to tweak and experiment and put the players they have in the best position to win.
This Year’s Chris Coyer?