Lessons Learned From Dodging A Bullet

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.

Punching them in the face with a run on 2d and five probably would have been the better call here.

Punching them in the face with a run on 2d and five probably would have been the better call here.

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.





25 thoughts on “Lessons Learned From Dodging A Bullet

  1. we finally beat PSU, and now I can die in peace.., Temple is 3-0 and WILL be 4-0 in a few weeks.., weird season.,

    it appears the defense is worse, not better, than last year or is it me? Cincy and UMass torched the Temple D..,

    and, i thought the offense would be better with the addition of Anderson but in reality Austin Jones and the Special Teams have saved the offense..,

    Satterfield’s offense has not been worthy of a Top 25 ranking in the polls but again, Temple beat Cincy and PSU in the same season…

    my vote would be to start installing the game plan for ND now, and beat the teams leading up to the ND game on talent alone.., the coaching staff did great job over the summer of preparing the team for PSU., they don’t do a good job with only a week to prepare…,

    the University should pull all the stops and put >30K at the Linc for Homecoming..,

    hopefully this is Satterfield’s last season at Temple.., he is also one of the weakest RB position coaches in America

    • he loves the 3 and 4 wides and we’re slipping back into that. when ‘matt’ told him to go power and run the ball at the beginning of the season, i’m sure he said, ok,matt, with an eye on starting to work those 3-4 receivers back into the formations as the season progresses. let’s hope the ceo puts his foot down, uses nick sharga’s talent for something other than being a cheerleader, establish the run and throw off play action.

    • I don’t know if the defense is worse or more if a case of catching some good QBs early in the season this year and Snow going with a very conservative, bend but don’t break scheme the past 2 games. As for the offense, really think Satterfield’s position with the staff needs to be evaluated. It sounded like UMass stacked the box to stop the run and he either didn’t expect that or didn’t know how to counter effectively. In his 3rd year as OC, I’m not really seeing anything out of Satterfield that doesn’t warrant Rhule looking for an upgrade

    • I agree. When they went with eight and sometimes nine in the box you counter that by spreading out your receivers rolling your QB out, or using play action and quick throws to a back flaring out. You don’t run the ball because that was your game plan. On offense the only plan should be is take what the offense gives you. Rhule alluded to that in his post-game comments. The only mitigating factor might be the extent to which PJ is hurt. His shoulder situation does limit his ability to run which affects the read option and QB draws. Also, he missed some wide open receivers he usual doesn’t. Hopefully, he gets near a 100% healthy during the bye.

  2. In the Boston Globe story about the game, the author noted that TU did go to cover 2 in the second half, which was responsible for shutting down their best receiver. Should have opened the game in cover two. Clearly, these kids do not have one on one cover skills. Also, on offense, the couple times they went to the tight end it worked. Need to use them more as they did in this game and in screens and such. The team and coaches had its lucky break game and likely will not get another.

  3. Not only did temple not Crack top 25, they dropped all the way to 37th.

    • that’s the coaches poll. the ap, where they were 26th, come out in 3 minutes.

    • The owls should drop in the polls after that showing. Our offense was erratic, defense was lit up like a Christmas tree but fortunately our special teams and some dubious officiating bailed us out.

      I was especially disappointed with the game day coaching. The strength of our offense coming into the season was supposed to be our wide receivers. During the game they stack the box and we still continue to try to run. We finally have the speed and talent to spread the field but our coordinators did not seem to pick up on that.

      I hope the Owl’s can bounce back next week.

  4. Forget top 25 votes, just keep winning, get PJ some rest for that shoulder.

  5. Temple better come out firing against Charlotte a team who just gave up 695 yards to Middle Tennessee State.

  6. So much for “let’s worry about us,” and we can’t control what the other team does. Good coaches prepare and develop a game plan to exploit their opponents’ weaknesses. Rhule and his staff still need to work on strategy. Coach Foley and special teams won this game. Whipple squeezed the Owls Charmin.

    • do you think brian kelly is going to say, ‘geez, umass is putting 8 in the box, i don’t think i’ll run’ … no. … he’s going to punch them in the mouth, just like we should have done. guaranteed nd will get closer to 390 yards rushing than the 67 we got.

  7. the Temple defense must do a better job against the pass.., the QBs from Memphis, ND, and SMU are just as good if not better than the three we have faced so far…., Jahad’s fumble is disturbing considering he fumbled in the 4th quarter against Cincy, he should not start against Charlotte – period.

    agree with John B.., you take what the defense gives you. If they give you the easy pass then take it. If they put nine guys in the box, then you probably should not count on running to victory. Force the defense to play to your strength…, force them to play the pass so you can run the football..,

    Coach Foley and Austin Jones have propelled this team to a 3-0 start.., time for the offense and defense to match the effort of the special teams

  8. I am realistic about this team. They are not going to dominate anyone. All the games will be tough. The Penn State game was a great performance by the defensive line but going forward be prepared for tough last minute games. It is not going to be easy. At minimum, this team should get a bowl bid if they keep playing hard. At best, they will win the conference and get into one of the more high profile bowls. I see 7 or 8 wins and a decent bowl game someplace. Anything above that will be a surprise.

    • That may be true that they’ll only get 7-8 wins. However, that will be caused not by the talent but by the coaching. This team is loaded and the coaches have to step up.

      • to me, colorado gave us the blueprint to beat umass. we chose to throw it in the trash because it’s all about us. brian kelly will be picking it out of our trash and putting it to good use this weekend. except for this year’s penn state game, we almost never do stuff that worked for other teams against our opponents. we have more talent than 8 wins. i hope for these kids’ sakes they fully realize their talent like the 1979 kids did.

  9. Yea, here we go again. After Saturday I’m skeptical again. How in the hell could things look so bad against a UMass? If PJ had thrown better maybe the score would have looked better, but there’s just no excuse for letting them catch up like that. We were lucky to some extent but the blocked extra point and running it back for 2 and the last drive and nice field goal is all on the players doing a great job to win. It’s just that it should never have come to needing all those heroics. Temple still can’t keep a sustained driving, pounding rhythm going. It’s stutter along and finally do just barely enough. Temple really isn’t that good yet. Yes, it’s going to be a nail biting season at best. A bust at worst.

    • harry donahue just went on the radio and said temple is a ‘1 or 2-loss team at worst” … and he means at the end of the season, not the middle. i hope he’s right.

      • Right now I’m feeling worse case scenario is 3 losses – ND, Memphis and ECU as kind of a “wild card”. At their place, revenge game, looking ahead to ND, etc

    • I think they can sustain a drive and demonstrated it against UMass and Cincy until the fumbles. I guess the fumble do demonstrate an inability to sustain a drive to some extent but I consider them aberrations. As far as the coaches go, they have to lose their egos and forget the game plan when it isn’t working. Upon seeing eight in the box, I would immediately have put in a full back or H back for blocking or for flare passes or began using play action and hit the tight end all day long, The tight end was open whenever they wanted it and yet they used it twice. LIke last season, TU is still ignoring that position. Then, once passes to the tight end was established, UMass would have been forced to bring a safety up to cover the tight end at which point any one of the receivers easily could have gotten open long. Don’t tell me TU doesn’t have an H-back/tight end guy as good as the UMass guy who caught two tds. DeLoach is big enough and fast enough to handle that role. It’s all about match-ups and our offensive coaches seem incapable of capitalizing on another team’s weaknesses or amending the game plan once it’s clear that it’s not working as planned, something, which itself should be part of the game plan.

      As far as the D goes, other teams have made adjustments to counter the rush and we haven’t responded. Hell, UMass looked at the Cincy film and saw that we can’t cover if there is no rush. I would have had devised a scheme where the rushers appear to be engaging the blitzes used at PSU and Cinncy but then use different blitzing schemes using safeties or corners ad dropping linemen to confuse the O. Doesn’t appear that such changes are occurring. Can’t rest on the past in football because of the availability of film and the intelligence of opposing coaches. Memphis and SMU have QBs who will eat us up if things don’t change.

      • also, kip patton is big enough and fast enough.to fill that role. said before the game i like our defense better when it is attacking the qb like psu and not sitting back and like cincy. looks like we were caught in between of those 2 philosophies. do not like that nate d. smith got the only sack. we’re not going to get 10 sacks a game, but we should be at least getting 3-4.

  10. Maybe UMASS was better than we thought they were. and hey fellas cheer up. we r 3-0. We could be the Eagles! #ouch

    • Saturday was the perfect storm. poor opponent, poor game plan, poor refs .. on the praise touchdown, film showed no hold. that would have made it 21-0. another bogus hold on kyle friend (he pancaked the guy with sheer power, not held him) took away a big gain to robby. nd is going to run the ball on them and not care if they put 20 in the box.

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