At the height of his popularity and veneer of invincibility, Muhammad Ali granted a pug boxer from Bayonne, N.J. a shot.
In order to sweeten the storyline, Ali noted that Chuck Wepner had a bleeding problem and promised that he could win with all body blows and to never touch Wepner’s face.
Saturday’s Temple at UMass game was a little like that fight, with the Temple game plan being remarkably similar to Ali’s. The Minutemen were coming off a game where their run defense bled for 390 yards in a 48-14 loss to Colorado and allowed two 100-yard rushers. Temple had the nation’s third-leading rusher, Jahad Thomas.
Football is not rocket science, but everybody at the E-0 seemingly wants to be Wernher Von Freaking Braun.
If any team was set up to be punched in the face, it was Massachusetts but, the Owls, like so many other times in the last three years, outsmarted themselves by throwing the ball on their first 2d and five situation of the game and then again on their first 2d and three opportunity, which came early in the second half. Even if that play fails, you are more likely than not facing a third and 1 or a third and 2 on the next one. Then you go Temple Tuff again and punch them in the mouth.
Sometimes, the game plan is there right in front of your face for the entire world to see but, for some reason, Temple chose not to see it. A game that should not have been that close was and there were a number of reasons for that, but chief among them was not taking a page out of Colorado’s book.
Being Temple Tuff means a lot of things, but what it should mean is punching a team in the face with a history of face bleeding and the Owls got away from that mantra. Being Temple smart means a lot of things, but it should mean not being too proud to borrow a game plan that worked against the same opponent a week earlier.
Middle Tennessee State scored 74 points on Charlotte yesterday. Hopefully, the Owls are not too proud to break that film down and borrow what worked for the Blue Raiders and, just maybe, score 75.
Otherwise, another pug fighter who doesn’t deserve it will be given a chance to go 15 rounds with a much superior foe.