Killer Instinct

When I started out in the workforce as a 14-year-old kid in the summer washing and packing Good Humor trucks in Northeast Philadelphia, I forgot to punch the time clock the first week I worked there.

Nervously, I approached the manager and told him of my mistake.

“Son, we don’t sweat the small stuff,” the foreman said, then gave me a piece of paper to sign.

As a lifelong Temple fan, the comment rolled around in my head after watching the Owls beat  Connecticut on Friday night, 21-0. The Owls were a 10-point favorite on the road and won by more than double that.

Sure, it would have been nice had my favorite Temple quarterback, maybe of all time, P.J.Walker, not forced two throws in the red zone. Sure, it would have been even nicer had Temple coach Matt Rhule not gone all Ghandi-like on Bob Diaco after the first 14 plays, but one thing is clear.

We do not sweat the small stuff, nor should any of my fellow Temple fans.

Looking at the stat sheet, other than the two Walker mistakes, my biggest complaint was that Temple threw the ball on seven of the first 14 plays and ran the ball on 67 of the next 87 plays. In those first 14 plays, the Owls completed all seven passes and scored three touchdowns.

That should have been a clue as how to attack the rest of the game, so maybe that’s why Temple radio play-by-play man Harry Donahue made a point to mention that Owls’ offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas looked upset exiting his spot in the press box on Friday night in the last minute of the game.

As far as murderers go, you have Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein on one end of the spectrum and Ghandi and Matt Rhule on the other. Rhule could have put his sharp-cleated foot on the throat of Bob Diaco by throwing the ball—particularly over the soft middle of the Huskies’ defense—but instead was satisfied on running out the clock with a 21-0 lead.

Had the Owls put the foot on the Huskies’ throats, there is no doubt in my mind that this would have been a 43-0 type win, rather than a 21-0 win. A win, though, is a win and the Owls do not get style point from the CFB playoff committee with a 43-0 win. Losses to Army, Penn State and Memphis eliminated the Owls from that kind of contention, so Rhule’s salting away the win was the right strategy. Phil Snow deserves kudos for recording his first FBS shutout since 1986 when he was the DC at Boise State. (On the other hand, Chuck Heater had back-to-back shutouts for Temple in 2011.)

Style points would have been nice but, with two games left to ice the AAC East, style points pale in comparison to getting the win.

As the Good Humor executive once said, son, do not sweat the small stuff.

Monday: P.J. Walker Appreciation Day

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34 thoughts on “Killer Instinct

  1. Very good win. However, Philip. a/k/a PJ should not be forcing the ball in the end zone especially because he’s a senior. . it’s inexplicable and warrants concern down the road. It didn’t matter tonight but might in th future. 21-0 is nice but 35 -0 would have been nicer.

    • To be fair both INT’s were released when the receiver had a lead on the safety. PJ has made those throws before and I don’t think threw “because he’s a senior”.

      Melifonwu has NFL-esq closing speed and was clearly baiting those plays knowing he could close the gap. Kudos to him on that.

  2. Mike, I agree with your assessment of the game. Easily could have been a 40+ game for Temple. I’m glad Rhule played it smart though. Nothing to be gained by running up the score besides stats, and the easiest way Temple could have lost that game would have been from unsightly turnovers. The turnovers we did have put the Huskies in crappy field position at least.

    Two games left. I wrote a comment earlier this season that the one thing Temple is lacking to maintain top 25 ranking is consistency from season to season. Admittedly, things started off shaky and now we are 7-3 with two winnable games left. A home conference championship game would keep the program moving forward.

    When I first started reading this blog several years ago a lot of the talk was on scheme, players, and adjustments. We’ve turned the table to phrases like “GDQ” and the need to maintain momentum.

    Long response so this will be my final thought on the matter. At the last home game vs Cinci I wore my usual A10 Temple hat (was an undergrad then). Someone asked me, “A10? How old is that hat?”. Not as old as one would think given we finished ranked last year.

  3. two positives, Walker is humble and admitted to the RedZone mistakes during the post game; and, Glen Thomas is a better OC than Satterfield, he now knows the strengths and weaknesses of this offense and is calling the game accordingly

    …, we are going to be tough to beat the rest of the way.., the OL is playing at a high level, receivers have recovered from an early bout of the drops; the defense hits harder than any D on the entire east coast

    …the stars will continue to align and we’ll host and win the AAC Championship.., MR has learned from last year’s bowl prep.., he won’t make the same mistake two years in a row..,

    we will finish the season with the coveted NCAAFB Triple Crown – Conf Champs, Bowl Champs, and Top 25 finish.., unexplained if that doesn’t lead to a top 40 recruiting class

  4. The way this is playing out, anything less than 11 wins will be a disappointment. Regarding Walker’s play, I think to some extent he forces those throws last night because he’s told to avoid an injury by running with it. If and when he gets to the Conference Championship and Bowl games, he gets the green light to run. If TU get 11 wins, Walker will have made a few extra plays with his running that werent necessarily “big” plays, but that avoided big mistakes. His running is an added weapon to a seemingly growing arsenal.

    • I find Philip walker’s running ability to be overrated and average at best. Every week I hear the announcers talk about him being dangerous with his legs but I don’t see it. He gets run down by 300 lb linemen and frequently makes bad throws on the run or sets himself up for huge sacks. I think his performance in this area has regressed and feel more comfortable on planned rollouts or when he’s protected in the pocket.

      • Let’s just say it. He was never really super mobile or dynamic in open field. But announcers think every black QB can run.

      • I thought it and you said it (props). Add to it the fact he’s a bit undersized and of course he’s Quinton Flowers.

  5. Not sure what to make of this article, Rhule did have the QB throw the ball and he threw two picks in the end zone killing drives. If they kick two fgs, at least 27 points and if they score tds 35 points. QB also fumbled deep in UConn territory. Rhule didn’t stop the owls from scoring more, mistakes by the QB did.

    • Pretty sure if you throw AWAY from their projected NFL corner, you can get points. To me, those plays were designed to throw his way and that’s just, if not flat-out stupid, ill-advised. There is a reason why they are the 118th-rated pass defense (and 26th-rated run defense) in the country. Throw the ball over the middle to the tight ends and the slot receivers. Sure it would have been 35-squat had P.J. thread the needle on those two throws but my point was that the laces were much wider on the middle and left sides of the field and no needle ever needed to be threaded.

      • They were mistakes rookie qbs make, not a four year starter and that’s concerning because he should have known better and not thrown the ball. In both instances, the d backs were within two steps of the receivers, who had to slow down as they neared the sideline giving the d back time to catch up to the receiver. In both instances PJ could have either run out of bounds or thrown the ball away and instead he forced the ball.

        Watching ND playing Navy and guess what- ND’s playing a 4-4 stack on defense. Hope Phil Snow is watching.

      • flipping back and forth between Navy-ND and Penn-Princeton on my way to the gym. Penn-Princeton is the more entertaining game. Penn down, 6-0, Princeton missed an extra point, and now Penn is going for it on fourth down deep in Princeton territory because “neither team has a kicking game” according to the announcer. Sounds like the Public League.

      • The QB when under pressure, sometimes makes bad decisions like he did last night. The coaches are smart enough to know this and they also know that this team in particular must play with the lead and that means getting a lead and then pounding the run and eating the clock to diminish the other teams touches. Great balance on offense once again, 200 plus yards passing and 200 yds rushing. I have no quams about the game plan. UConn came out to stop the run and we exploited it. Once up 21, UConn went back to a more based approach and we ran it down their throats. Good game plan, good execution except for the two QB forces and one fumble. Clean it up going forward. This team has better balance than last years team. It is deeper on both sides of the ball.

      • totally agree on the last point. I’ve been saying for six months that this team will prove to be better than last year’s team and that next year, not this year, will be the step back year. We had Temple fans before the season predicting a six-win season and that was just preposterous given the level of talent in the program. We lose tavon, matt and tyler and the speed on our defense has gotten significantly better despite the loss of that talent.

  6. Tulane also plays a version of the triple option, so he will need to be taking notes shorthand and transcribing it on Monday.

  7. Meanwhile, Daz’s team is down 28-0. Look for him to keep pounding the run in the second half. So glad he is gone.

    • I don’t know you can criticize Daz. He completely turned the BC program around this year, going from zero wins in the ACC to one win. At that rate there is no telling the heights he can take his team to.

    • In less than 24 hours I just watched three coaches stealing money, Diaco, Daz and Brian Kelly. Mr. Kelly is the biggest offender he is losing with 5 star recruits.

      • How could anyone send their son to play for Brian Kelly? Whenever anything negative happens, he rips into his players and never looks in the mirror. Blames his center for bad shotgun snaps in a hurricane. His sideline demeanor is beyond inexcusable. Compare him to Matt Rhule who actually takes mistakes and turns them into teaching moments.

  8. Navy beats ND runs for over 350 yds, That triple option is difficult to stop even with 5 star athletes. It really is a great equalizer.

  9. Well, Navy won so we are going to have to hope for some craziness if we want a home championship game.

    • I would not dismiss the possibility that 6-2 wins the other division. I am still optimistic that TU will host the championship game for 50,000 plus.

  10. The game to watch next week is Tulsa-Navy. Tulsa has played very well and if they win, they win the division. I would prefer TU playing Tulsa rather than Navy.

    • Tulsa is one of those throw it around the yard teams. Navy will run it down their throats and limit Tulsa’s possessions.

  11. I have a feeling championship game will be in annapolis. Game in Philly would be nice, but everybody assumes it would be in front of 50,000. What if it is in front of the usual 27,000-30,000? That wont be a good look for Temple. Go beat Navy in Annapolis and win the American.

    Then pick the right bowl game. That would be a successful season.

  12. now style points DO count.., the AAC tie-breaker rules for hosting the conference championship game favors the team with the highest consolidated computer ranking…, not in favor of running of the score but am strongly in favor of putting points on the board (i.e., no red zone mistakes)..,

    it will be interesting to see if MR decides to take a knee with two minutes on the clock inside their 50 yard line.., why forego the opportunity to host the biggest game of the 2016 season?

  13. Mike, I’ll take your assessment for 3 scorless quarters as the reason. You’ re closer to what’s going on than I am for sure. But I didn’t see OSU here in Ohio holding back, or PSU for that matter. For me it was a bit frustrating to watch and seriously, if Walker hadn’t thrown 2 picks into the endzone it probably WOULD have been a 35 zip game. Those were 2 real breakdowns for Walker and he needs to do better down the road for this to become another very good season. Go Owls.

  14. Yeah EasyOwl, on the 2nd interception Walker had an open field to run but threw it instead. That’s ok, but why didn’t he throw it out of the endzone instead of into close coverage? Then they probably would have scored on the next downs they had. And I do think 35 zip would be better and still wouldn’t be “dumping” on Diaco – 50, 60, 70 points is dumping it on.

    • Yes, after the first 14 plays, I thought it might be 43-0. Then I heard Matt’s perfectly reasonable explanation afterward (“thought it would be better to run the ball, limit turnovers and win the game” type quote) and totally agreed with him. Interesting that Shawn Pastor asked him about the “style point” issue before he answered that way and Matt said “I don’t think about it.” That’s probably the way to approach the last two games. Get the kids in the hot tub and the ice baths this week, then prepare for Tulane next week, win both games (however you can) and let the chips (and hopefully championships) fall where they may. I think now Memphis has a good shot at knocking off USF and who knows what will happen with the Navy vs. Tulsa scenario

  15. John: Agree that he should throw it away as you noted. What I hope to see is Walker making better decisions in those situations in a conference championship and/or bowl game to include having a green light for keeping and running for the needed yardage or touchdown. One of the above comments was about his running ability being over-rated. I’m not expecting him to run for 150 yards in those games. But he’s a good enough runner to make something good happen either: 1. by design with an early play where he keeps it to give the opposing DC something to think about; and, 2. or making a play with his feet when the passing play breaks down. And if they win those big games, it wouldn’t surprise me if there there were a few of those Walker runs. Just some wishful thinking on my part that the kid goes out with a couple of great games.

    As an aside, Frank Caliano (sp?) appeared on one of the college pre-game shows and I thought he was great. Especially doing Lou Holtz. It’s worth looking for on Utube or wherever.

  16. You can see the Caliendo bit on SB Nation

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