One of the things I’ll never understand about college football is the concept of a letdown. A typical college player works like a madman for 353 days a year to perform 12 days a year and you would think the goal would be for optimum output just for those 12 days. In the other 353 days of the year, it’s OK to have a letdown.
The dozen game days are no time for a so-called letdown.
It should not be possible to have a letdown in college football. In baseball, basketball, with the preponderance of travel and sheer volumes of games, a “letdown” is understandable.
Even though a letdown makes no sense given the minimum opportunities to demonstrate skills honed the other 353 days, letdowns inexplicably exist. History tells us that. A Temple team coming off a 38-7 high with a win at Maryland in 2011 followed that up with a 36-13 loss at home to Toledo the next week. Very few people thought Toledo had more talent than Maryland. That was the same Maryland team that beat the real Miami, 32-24, in the previous week.
You could look at it two ways in that both Maryland had a letdown against Temple and Temple had a letdown against Toledo, but those were just two instances of what could be called letdowns and proof that they do exist.
Last year, despite saying all of the right things, there can be no doubt Temple had a letdown against Navy. While Navy was good and ran a complicated style of offense, Temple had much more talent. Before the game, coach Wayne Hardin took time to explain to me the simple way to beat a triple option team was to blitz a linebacker or a safety from the quarterback’s blind side because the Navy offense was designed to leave that side unprotected on pitches to one side. He said that more often than not the unprotected blitzer would be able to disrupt a pitch before it could be made.
Temple never got the memo and never blitzed to Keenan Reynolds’ blind side even once. After a dominating 37-7 win over Vanderbilt, an embarrassing loss to Navy followed.
You could call that a letdown, too. No one can predict what is going to happen tomorrow night, but the facts as we know them are Temple is coming off what had to be both a physically and emotionally draining 27-10 win over Penn State. The ingredients for a so-called letdown are there. The Owls are saying all of the right things about avoiding a letdown against Cincinnati tomorrow night but the Owls said the same things after Vanderbilt a year ago (see the above headline).
Hopefully, deeds will prove stronger than words this time.
Tomorrow: Cincinnati’s Defense
Sunday: Game Analysis
Monday: Photo Essay