The Path Forward

Thanks to Paul Palmer for the audio file and Ricky Swalm for the YouTube work.

For someone who never used a drug harder than an occasional Coors Light and never understood the power of drugs or addiction, I’ve been overdosing on a couple of things over the last 48 hours.

Strawberry (I call them Cherry) Twizzlers and the 32-second drive.

I can’t get enough, eating the Twizzlers and snorting the video below. There are a couple of things worth noting in the video, the smarts and sheer courage of Ventell Bryant in both getting out of bounds and getting up and staggering to the line of scrimmage before the final play and the presence of mind of his teammates to get him lined up. If Bryant stays down, a 10-second runoff happens and the Owls lose. Also, P.J. Walker made four great throws and the last one under a significant amount of duress and, of course, the Keith Kirkwood great catch. Also, Anthony Russo’s participation in the celebration is noteworthy. One whiff of any of those things creates a significant high combined with the munchie Twizzlers.

My addiction, though, is harmless. If the team and the coaches have not moved on from Saturday night’s high, going to rehab will be a necessary trip on the way to a six-win season. What the victory on Saturday purchased in currency was very valuable, their own destiny, with regard to an American Athletic Conference championship and a possible double-digit-win season. They need not rely on anyone else but themselves to win the title. If they had lost, they would have needed help.

That cannot be understated because of what is ahead of them in the very next game.

South Florida will come into Lincoln Financial Field on Friday not only as the preseason favorite to take the AAC East title, but as six-point favorites over the Owls. If the Owls can somehow make one more play than USF, like they did against UCF on Saturday night, the path to an AAC title opens as wide as a six-lane highway in rural Montana. USF is the toughest game left and the teams after USF, like Cincinnati and UConn, have serious flaws than USF doesn’t have. If the Owls can somehow win out—and there are only five games left—they will LIKELY host the AAC title game in Philadelphia. (West contenders Houston, Navy and Memphis could not each other out of hosting the game.)

Houston, which was ceded the title by most a few weeks ago, does not seem so unbeatable anymore. Navy beat the Cougars two weeks ago and Tulsa—a team that struggled against SMU—probably should have beaten them on Saturday night.

The Owls’ defense appears to be coming around, shutting out a UCF offense over the last two quarters (19-0) that scored 47 on ECU.

Anything is possible if the Owls focus on Friday and stay away from the munchies and that anything might be a championship.

Thursday: Game Preview

Saturday: Game Analysis

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24 thoughts on “The Path Forward

  1. The premise for many articles and comments seems to be if the owls play up to their potential they can beat any team on the schedule. The reality is the owls are who they are which is a 4-3 team in a mediocre conference with one of the softest schedules in the country. Bill Parcels famously said “every team is exactly as good as their record.” We are facing a 6-1 team who if they play up to their potential will very likely beat us.

    This is an error prone owls team lacking senior leadership with a coach whose competencies appear to be recruiting, motivating and game-day coaching in that order. I have no reason to believe the owls are serious conference championship contenders based on what I’ve seen so far this season. I’m not saying there’s no way we’ll win this week but I am saying we’re going to need to create some breaks and get some help from USF. I also am hard pressed to believe we’ll win out regardless of whether we’re favored in the games.

    I’ve decided this is a year in which it’s good to be a fan of a team that was a perennial doormat but has moved into the realm of respectability. If Matts recruits are as good as advertised maybe we see another 2015 down the road.

    • This all may be true (I tend to agree), but our problem is that we can’t survive on respectability. We need to energize and increase our fan base and donations to compete in today’s football landscape. I don’t know what the answers are but 6-6 records against our schedule will not assure the continuation of Temple football. The costs just won’t support it. Better game day coaching (the Army game), reducing unforced mental errors (the Penn State game) would help but I don’t know how to achieve those.

      • Phil is right. Mediocrity, even with the backdrop of 20 years of futility, will not sustain Temple football. 34K rejected mediocrity after Army and the evidence is there for all to see about how hard it is to get those once fired-up for Owl football fans back. Now we have people writing that there will be 40K or 35K for USF on Saturday and I just do not see it because the additional 14K or so we had at Army were casual fans who probably found other things to do. The opening game this year was a template for Temple football going forward. Fans will follow a team that beats everyone it is supposed to beat and occasionally reaches up to beat someone it is not. Losing to a 16.5-underdog is an unpardonable sin, not from my standpoint, but from the casual fan’s point of view. Those are the fans we need to sustain the program, not the hardcores like us.

  2. Catch the clip of Flowers faking out four UConn guys standing two feet from him and going for a touchdown. That’s what the Owls are up against.

    • I understand a team like Florida State, even in a down year, has the talent to beat USF by 20, but Western Kentucky beat essentially this same USF team by 10 points 10 months ago. I would put our freak, Haason Reddick, on their freak in a spy-type situation. Plus, USF is tenth in the conference against the run. I would commit to a heavy dose of the run, be it Ryquell or Jahad, and stick to it in order to keep the USF offense off the field. Not Steve Addazio-type sticking it to (run, run, pass) but maybe run, pass, run and pass, run, run .. that type of mixing it up.

  3. I know Wayne Hardin would have. We like to stick with our base defense and light candles hoping that it works.

  4. I know the subject of this concerns your last post. Nevertheless, the game that truly comes closest to the CFU game is the UConn game from several years ago when we scored on the last play on the deflection and the replay guys didn’t give it to us even though it was clear that it was a TD.

  5. This is a tough spot for Temple. The offense is inconsistent and the d gives up way too many big plays. We are going to have to get some turnovers, eliminate mistakes that result in big plays. The middle of the field, the inside LB and safeties must play must be better. Reddick could be wildcard here, he is a disrupter. On offense, we can score on this team but Walker needs to be more consistent and make USF aware that if they cheat at the line with 8 in the box he will burn them through the air. I believe we can run on this team but cannot become predictable like the Daz or Golden teams. Mix it up but stay run heavy. If we win, I see an 8-4 record and a division crown. If we lose I could see us going 7-5.

    • USF smells blood with the Houston loss to Navy, and we’ll have Florida warm and humid temperatures on Friday night.., last year was our year and they still beat us, this is their year…, they are better than last year and we are worse…, Taggart fired both of his coordinators two years ago because he refused to accept mediocrity.., USF 31 – Temple 17…., USF will crack the Top 25 before hosting the AAC Championship Game…, Herman interview-gate will propel USF to the AAC championship

      • Barring the owls playing by far their best game of the season I don’t see this one being even close. You can’t beat a more talented team without being more disciplined and Limiting mistakes. These are areas in which this year’s team seems to be lacking. I won’t waste time reiterating my concerns around team leadership, save for 32 seconds of the season.

      • Front will be through already- dropping temperatures with increasing winds.

      • KJ predicted us to lose. I’m flying to Vegas to bet the house, farm and car on the Owls. Thanks, KJ.

      • Thats great. i love when KJ picks us to lose (which is pretty much every single game). That usually means we will win.

  6. Hey George, i’m glad i’m not the only one who notices that KJ always picks us to lose. i truly believe he’s a Owl troll/fan.

    • I know KJ, I worked with KJ, and KJ is no troll. He is a passionate Temple fan who is concerned about the long term survival and success of Temple football. Unlike some of us (including myself), he refuses to put on the rose colored glasses and calls it as he sees it. I hope he is wrong but I cannot impugn his integrity as an Owl fan.

      • Phil, I understand your concern but the team is 14-7 (66% winning percentage) in the last year and a half with a divisional crown won and a victory over PSU. Based on our previous 40 year history, I think the program is doing ok and if that is wearing rose colored glasses then I am guilty. KJ is afflicted with negative thinking, perhaps that’s his view of life. Anyone who has ever played a competitive game in any sport realizes that sometimes you lose because you are ill prepared or make mistakes and do not play well and sometimes you lose because the other guy is better or played better. In KJ’s case he is quick to criticize and find fault but for whatever reason has trouble praising the players, team or coach’s when they win. He just lacks balance, again that may be his view on life. A glass half filled kind of guy. As to your comment about the long term viability of Temple football, I think it might in fact be perilous with super conferences looming and the arms race that will continue with spending that will force non p-5 conference teams to throw in the towel. If Temple football dies, it will be because of decisions made by the administrations and coaches in the late 1980’s, 90’s and early part of 2000 and not because of anything that has occurred since Al Golden and his successors arrived. In the meantime, my focus is on Friday night and while I think the game will be a challenge for us, if we play smart and minimize big plays and mistakes we can win this game.

      • I second Phil’s emotions on KJ. Great fans don’t always agree with what the administration, coaches or team always does. KJ takes the long view of what Temple football can be and I pretty much agree with that view. As for the predictions of imminent gloom and doom each week, not so much but he was right about Penn State this year, if not last. I think we can pull this game out. We have to play smart (probably spy Flowers with our freak, Haason) and run the football more than we have all year. I don’t know if we commit to one or both of the above. Keep USF’s offense off the field, shorten the game, and we can win.

  7. TU and the AAC just got a giant break with the Big 12 deciding not to expand. I believe that all the schools who think they’re going to be invited into a P-5 conference are deluding themselves because the conferences want all the money for themselves. Sharing is a foreign word to them. The next thing that’s likely to happen is the Big 12 dissolves when Oklahoma and Texas decide to leave. Alternatively, there’s are rumors that Colorado and Nebraska may ask back in saving the conference. Oklahoma and Texas realize it’s a G-5 conference with two P-5 schools, namely, them. There’s no reason to stay if the SEC or Big 10 comes calling.

    • Nebraska and Colorado belong in the Big 12. That would be a sound move by both administrations.

      • Big twelve is like big east 2.0. They can’t align on a long term strategy, have lost much of their luster and are a one trick league in the white dwarf stage. I expect the recalcitrance Texas has demonstrated will be the ultimate undoing of this conference.

  8. Re Big 12, if it folds our conference could take on some of their teams. If Kansas, WVU, TCU and KState for example, joined AAC conference it would bolster an argument that the there should be six power conferences Kansas’s basketball legacy alone could help force that outcome. Instead of forcing round pegs into square holes, let’s make more compatible pegs and holes.

  9. Take a look at the hit Walker takes at the 2:11 mark on the interception return:

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