Getting the Defensive Swag Back

Quinton Flowers looked way too comfortable back there. 

A great man who had a Philadelphia stadium named after him probably said it best in 1927: “You can’t win them all.” Connie Mack was the first man credited with saying that, although many men have said it since.

Not that Temple didn’t try to win them all– at least the AAC games it was scheduled to play until last night. USF won, 44-23, and that was an eye opener. Many of us thought the defense falling apart for one game was an outlier. Now it’s a trend that needs to be fixed.

A Temple team built on defense, running the ball, throwing off play action and great special teams should be able to win by scoring 23 points.


The very definition of defensive swag.

The paid professionals who are in charge of fixing this probably know to do it is getting the swag back.  For these Owls to be any good, they have to be frequent visitors and disruptors in the enemy’s backfield. That hasn’t happened the past two weeks.

It’s going to have to happen the next two, otherwise this is 2010 all over again, where the Owls jumped out to an 8-2 record and finished 8-4 and left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. The Owls are still 5-1 in the AAC East standings and USF is still 4-2. If USF wins out and Temple wins out, then Temple wins the East. USF, not Temple, is the team that has to hope the other loses.

So now the question that needs to be answered is how to get that defensive swag back that the Owls had against both Notre Dame and Penn State, two teams that are arguably—and the stress is arguably—better than Memphis and UConn. Wins over Memphis and UConn is all that matters now and the way to get them is to follow the same schematic blueprint—with a few tweaks—that worked so well on defense against ND and PSU.

Utilizing a 5-2 front, with two-time Pennsylvania heavyweight wrestling champion Averee Robinson using his gap leverage over the center’s nose, has more potential to create havoc for Memphis and UConn’s offenses that the three- and four-man rushes the Owls have been using the past two weeks. Make Hershey Walton and Matt Ioannidis the flanking tackles and Nate D. Smith and Sharif Finch the ends and that’s the best way to make sure Paxton Lynch has plenty of unexpected company in the backfield. Christian Hackenberg did not have time to think, let alone throw an effective pass, and that is the kind of havoc the Owls need to bring on Saturday.

By using a 5-2, they will not have to blitz and be vulnerable for the big plays that have plagued them the past two weeks. It’s something that deserves consideration.


14 thoughts on “Getting the Defensive Swag Back

  1. The long view says a team with the Owls talent limitations (I.e. Lack of real depth and top-tier speed) is sitting with an 8-2 record looks pretty good. However, the recent couple of weeks have provided a blueprint for how to exploit these weeknesses which teams of ‘arguably lesser talent have done.

    Next weeks game against Memphis is a real challenge in that they have an NFL passing game which the Owls need to keep off the field with long drives resulting in scores. This has been a phase of inconsistency for the Owls this season. If they can’t execute a scheme where Walker is throwing between 15-20 times in the game and the receivers are holding onto the ball they will get blown out by Memphis and be in a dog fight with uconn.

    • agree, and being 1-3 over the last four games going into the uconn game is a scary thought.., uconn will be hyped up and playing for a bowl bid and Temple will be smack in the middle of an end of year slump, and the Linc will be empty if Temple loses 3 out of the last 4….., that is why the Memphis game is a must win for this team…,

      think Houston and the AAC should do everything they can to keep Tom Herman in the league.., it will force everyone to keep up…., also think Temple is 3-5 years away from serious P5 consideration, Rutgers was not ready and they are getting smoked in the Big 10…, much rather be fighting for an AAC Championship than being an average team in ACC or the Big 12

      “They physically beat us up,” coach Matt Rhule said. “We couldn’t score in the red zone.”

  2. Mike: You are uncharacteristically being “too kind” in your article. Considering what was at stake (Temple’s first chance ever for a Conference DIVISION Title) and the implications resulting from that loss (disappearing from Top 25, after a 4 week run following decades of never being ranked ), I feel that may have been the worst and most devastating defeat in Temple football history. Giving up 556 total yards, including 326 rushing yards, to an unranked team is inexcusable, considering what was at stake. Frightening is that theTemple defense has given up 108 points the last 3 games, after holding opponents to only 102 the first 7 games (which included ND and Cincy). CAN THE OWL ‘HUMPTY DUMPTY’ DEFENSE BE PUT BACK TOGETHER AGAIN?? (P.S. Do you know where the total yardage and rushing yardage given up to USF ranks in worst Temple defensive performances in history?)

    • good points, stan, but I love the kids on this team. i love matt rhule as a person, but he really needs to be the kind of hard ass on his staff was Wayne Hardass, err, I mean Hardin, was. Phil Snow’s passive defense hurt the kids in games against Cincy (win), SMU (win) and now USF (loss). If Matt Rhule is ever to become a great CEO of our program, he is going to have to grow a pair and tell Phil to put Paxton Lynch on his ass. If he beats us, I can accept it a whole lot better than I can accept him beating us with 3-men pass rushes (yes,, I know Nate D sacked ch on a 3-man; that almost never happens, though)

  3. Sorry I can’t make it to Philadelphia this weekend as I have to work but good luck against my Tigers. Hopefully it will be a good game and free of injuries.

  4. As a Notre Dame fan, I had taken an interest in following Temple’s season this year. You guys certainly have much to be proud of, and I was sad to see you all take the loss this past weekend. I hope you all finish the year strong (partially to make our win look better haha)!
    One small thing though: saying that Notre Dame is only “arguably- and the stress is arguably” better than UConn and Memphis is just not good football analysis. I know the transitive property doesn’t always hold up- but Navy just waxed Memphis, and ND handles Navy pretty easily.
    Anyways, just wanted to throw that out there. Good luck the rest of the way!

    • Got to agree here, Sam. The “arguably” line felt like a slight. It is what it is though. Would have been nice if Temple remained at one loss so we could continue to pad our strength of schedule, but they’ve still had a surprisingly successful year to date.

  5. Mike, I have resolved myself to just enjoy an 8 or 9 win season after the last gut wrenching game. I was kidding myself thru many games anyway as I watched many terrible quarters of football, by both O and D and Not-so-Special teams. Perhaps MR may be lauded for making a ‘silk purse out of a sow’s ear ‘ ?. We need lots’o help in a few areas next year if we hope to get 7 wins. Also nbr 11 is not the answer I am sorry to say. In-fact when Eagles sub QB Sanchez threw the late INT in the endzone yesterday, the first thing I said after #$%%##!! was ; wow that looks just like some PJW work.
    I’ll be there for Memphis but we think the stadium crowd will be flat and dull.
    Only good thing out of this is it greatly lowers the stock value of a certain Head Coach. Thanks

  6. Running QB’s give Temple fits. I think we will beat Memphis and Uconn, Go 10-2 and be in the conference championship game. Season is not lost.

    • we have to pressure pocket passers with zone blitzes..,Temple will lose if they rush three and drop eight in coverage on third down…, Memphis will score will a lot of points (their offense is better than SMU’s and USF) so our OL must control the line of scrimmage with a passion to allow us to keep pace

      • Totally agree. Many of us have said this since the Cincy game. Hope it doesn’t take Coach Rhule til the spring to admit he mad a mistake by rushing three as was the case last spring when he admitted that he had erred by running the offense he did. It would be a different story if TU had two, or even one shut down dback or lb but they don’t so they have to lessen the time the opposing qb has to throw a pass.

  7. Tavon isn’t a shut down CB? seems like teams have left him alone and been picking on Chandler.

    • No he’s not. No one on that team is a shut down anything. Had Young been a shutdown corner why was he beaten so badly by Fuller of ND on the td? This team has to play team defense to be successful. Look at the passing yardage accumulated against this team. ND game they were burned twice at the most critical time of the game. Cincy, SMU, UMass were pass happy against the Owls. The fact is that rushing three allows the qb time to pick out his receivers. No defense can be effective the longer the qb has to throw. Pressure on the qb changes the equation and lessens the chance that a pass will be accurate.

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