The rugby scrum at the 2:43 time stamp is what Temple TUFF is all about.
Maybe halftime adjustments is just another meaningless phrase, but the stark numbers told a different story on Saturday when Temple took control in what turned out to be 34-13 win over Cincinnati.
Not only did the Owls shut out the Bearcats in the second half, 17-0, they held someone who will probably be drafted by the NFL, Gunner Kiel, to 0-2 passing in the second half and his offense to no first downs and minus-1 total yards.
Halftime has been a good break to Temple in this three-game winning streak. They were down, 25-14, at half against UCF and won, 26-25, and they built on a modest halftime lead in beating USF. Now this and a lot of the improvement can be traced to the defense.
The words to the alma mater are elsewhere in this post.
As good as Temple’s defense was the two prior years, it had never been THAT good against an offense like Cincy’s. In our mind before the season started, we thought that this defense would be faster across the board than the last two defenses were and that has only been shown the last three weeks.
Maybe Phil Snow has something going right now because the Owls are deep in edge pass rushers (Praise Martin-Oguike, Romond Deloatch, Jacob Martin and Haason Reddick) and have been getting significant inside push from veterans like Averee Robinson, Freddy Booth-Lloyd and Michael Dogbe. Sean Chandler is back in the secondary and that helped, too.
It did not look like the Owls did anything other than keep grinding in the second half and, as they extended their lead, they were able to ramp up the pressure.
This was the same Kiel threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns (no interceptions) in a 31-19 win over East Carolina last week, so what the Owls’ defense did cannot be minimized. Considering that the offense scored 46 and 34 points in the last two weeks over good teams, the inescapable conclusion is that both sides of the ball are peaking at the right time.
Mix in the fact, not fiction, that given that win over ECU and the fact that ECU plastered UConn, 41-3, on Saturday, the Owls probably already took care of the best of the Final Four teams on their regular season schedule. One game at a time, but Temple’s speed advantage across the board on both sides of the ball figures give the molasses slow Huskies fits on Friday night.
A viable now path exists to host the AAC title game at LFF. Owls need to win out (now only three games) and Navy needs to lose to Notre Dame, but win the rest. In that scenario, Temple finishes with the same overall and conference record as Navy and probably will be ranked higher than Navy due to finishing with six-straight wins, including one over a team that scored 52 on the Midshipmen. Temple should take care of its part of the bargain.
The notion that it is “unreasonable” to expect the Owls to run the regular-season table has been debunked by the same numbers that suggest halftime has been a good 15 minutes for Temple.
Monday: What Have We Done?
Wednesday: The Conference Reacts
Friday: UConn Game Preview