Divided Loyalties

P.J. has got to put the ball near a receiver’s hands on the final play.

After Temple won the AAC championship, we wrote that the Owls already had the cake and the bowl game would be the Cherry on top of the cake.

There will be no Cherry thanks to a bunch of Baylor defensive coaches who thought they could serve two masters.

Now we have seen three Temple teams win 10 games and there can be no doubt the 1979 team is by far the best team of the three, having finished No. 17 in the nation and being only 15 points away from a 12-0 season against a significantly tougher schedule than the last two 10-win teams. An 11-win Temple team might have an argument, but that point is moot now.

What ailed the Owls the last two years is the distractions of the haves and have-nots in college football’s hierarchy.

G5 schools, specifically AAC schools, have had to deal with these distractions while the P5 schools do not. Temple stumbled to the finish line last year because it had to hear rumors about its coach leaving prior to a league championship game. Houston had no such distractions and won the title. This year, the Owls won the league title largely because head coach Matt Rhule was able to keep any discussions between his agent and Baylor quiet until after the title was secured.

The distractions, though, caught up to the Owls in the 34-26 bowl loss to Wake Forest. The No. 3 defense in the nation should not be allowing 34 points to the second weakest offense in the ACC.

We now know why because the defensive coaches missing eight practices between Dec. 4 and now was a huge red flag. It was obvious that Dave Clawson coached the pants off Temple, specifically in finding the vulnerability in the Owls’ defense to seam passes to the tight ends and the fullback early. A defensive staff out recruiting for Baylor had no answers for that on game day because there was nothing going on in the days leading up to game day.

Coaching means more in football than in any other sport. The team that is better-prepared will beat the team that is lackadaisical in preparations every time. On offense, the Owls have a first-round pick at tackle and they insisted on running the ball to the right side. Since the first-round pick lines up on the left side, the running game was going down the wrong way on a one-way street. As a result, the Owls had a minus 21 rushing yards.

That’s coaching and that is very poor coaching.

The difference between the 1979 team and these last two 10-win teams was that they had no such distractions to close out the season and a masterful coaching staff totally dedicated to helping the Temple kids and not with their minds elsewhere. Twenty six points should have been enough to beat this team.

When the field is tilted one way, nights like last night in Annapolis are going to happen.  It is a shame it is going to cost the school a precious Top 25 finish.

If Geoff Collins can do the kids one favor next year, it will be to allow them to finish the season under a coaching staff that gives them undivided attention and love and let the results fall where they may.

Friday: Season Analysis

Sunday: The Three Things

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17 thoughts on “Divided Loyalties

  1. Kinda glad Rhule wasn’t the coach bcuz I know this site would have killed him over this game. As too the game, our OL got manhandled. if we can’t run the ball then its over for us. the defense didn’t start tackling until the 2nd half.

    one thought that we may never know…..was Wake Forest actually better than their record? having the opponents know the game plans definitely hurt them.

    • Rhule probably would have deserved the criticism since he probably also would have been out-coached by the guy Temple could have had instead. I have to agree with the major point of this post that it is hard to serve two bosses at the same time. Foley had zero help of the defensive coaches. Can’t blame Foley was this one.

  2. Agree, could not believe how their 3 man DL front stifled the rush. Even when Sharga led the runner it didn’t yield much. Yet despite that, the game came down to specialty team errors: the muffed punt and the long KO return after closing the deficit to five. Walker’s reluctance to throw the ball away and endure sacks of >-10 yards killed drives as well.

  3. I feel the “coaching distraction” was one of the biggest contributors to yesterday’s performance. I don’t know what “normal” preparation is for a game but it just looked like Temple wasn’t ready some of the things Wake Forest threw at them. With the small number of staff left to conduct the practices I have to think their hands were full with basic game preparation, maybe not enough scouting of the opponent and film study, etc. Wake Forest was putting 8 men in the box a lot along with looking like they were prone to over pursuit. Yet we didn’t seem to have any counters, don’t think I remember any screen passes, jet weeps, etc. On defense, WF was running a lot of inside traps with the fullback but the defense still kept the tackles wide and the LBs off the line. Overall the play calls coming from the bench seemed slow. Several time I saw Alwan or Reddick trying to shift guys around based on WF formations at the last second, and for all the blame a lot of folks on other boards are dumping on Walker, plays consistently were coming in from the sidelines with only 15 seconds or less on the clock. Plus more than once, I saw Walker turn to the sidelines with his hands up waiting for a play. Also, don’t really know what the “Baylor Bunch” brought to the table by coming back to “coach” the game.
    To your point Jdoman, I don’t think we lose this game if Rhule were coaching and the team had their normal game preparation and practices.
    With all of that for me, I’d rather be discussing the disappointment of a bowl lose after a second 10 win season than Dickerson quitting after the Pitt game, Bobby Wallace heading to the Gulf Coast as soon as the season ends or post game Beach Boys and Monkees concerts.

  4. Gee whiz Mike,

    I’m not sure if I could disagree more with you about this game. I’m aware that you are especially careful not to criticize the kids on this team, and I to a large degree understand your point of view with that.

    HOWEVER, there’s nobody to point a finger at without starting with the players. What a completely embarrassing, humiliating effort by the TEAM. Aside from the first two minutes of the game, they sleptwalked.

    In what will be the defining moment of his career, Phillip Walker played miserably. One could even say choked , in my opinion. He had no clue yesterday, just how did the defensive coaches distract Walker? Yesterday’s game more typified his career instead of serving as an exception.

    Where was Hassan Reddick during the game? Chandler? The entire defense played the game with their heads up their butts.

    Temple found themselves in an unenviable position going into the game, but they should have been able to beat that team with you holding the clipboard and whistle.

    I suppose we will all recover and start talking about next season real soon, but this loss leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. The players let us all down this time.

    • I cannot criticize a kid who played with a dislocated finger and threw for 400 yards. I just don’t understand the last throw. You don’t essentially throw the ball away when it’s fourth down. That’s something you do on first and second down. Maybe the ball got away from him. I will give him the benefit of the doubt since I saw doctors working on his hand on the sidelines every Temple defensive series.

      • There was a mix up between him and the receiver.

      • I was not aware of Walker’s injury being as big a problem. I watched the game at a bar where the sound was turned off. Yes, you could tell that he had an issue with his hand,but…..

        And he threw for close to 400 yards because they ran the ball only 14 times!!! 15 if you count Sharga’s plunge into the line. Walker missed more opportunities than he connected on and the sacks he took….he had -54 yards rushing, come on.

        Wake Forest defense was better than its offense during the season, but hardly insurmountable. Every aspect of yesterday’s game was just awful. They dropped a game to a far inferior opponent.

      • PJ was hurt by all the fan criticism and it had a negative impact on his play all year.., check out his post on Instagram., shocking

  5. First, the team was overconfident. Second, Snow’s body was here but his mind elsewhere. Third, they reverted to Satterfield’s empty backfield offense again. Thank goodness Foley was never considered for the job. To Walker’s credit he didn’t throw interceptions while under assault, Fourth, thought I was watching the Toledo game again with the red zone ineptitude. Where was the throw back to Booth or the option they used against PSU and ND? Fifth, the defense could not tackle. Although the team should have known that WF was almost guaranteed to run with the second team QB they couldn’t stop them. Sixth, the punt fumble was the real dagger. Seventh, why wasn’t Thomas used on screens, wheel routes or in the slot? Eighth, the AAC can’t play bowl games. Either the teams are not that good or the teams don’t know how to prepare. Ninth, overall, it was very good year. In the last two seasons the Owls won more games than they did between 1991-2000. Tenth, Cherry and White will be here before you know it.

    • surprised so many running plays (I’d say at least 13 of the 15 or so) were run to the right and our NFL OT lines up on the left. Temple did a lot of head-scratching things. Got to get Jahad behind Dawkins and Sharga to give your running game a chance, not just Sharga.

  6. That last point is important. This was a disappointing end to a potentially record breaking season, but it is not the end of Temple football. I assume Mike will be covering the hiring of the new staff and the completing of the recruiting class. Then comes Cherry and White day and another season starts. This is much better than when seasons would end and there was no real hope for next year.

  7. I felt the defensive coaching staff was asleep until late in the first half when they called that time out in the red zone and held Wake to a field goal. The rest of the game they were fine as the only second half points came off the Big return. They did adjust in the second half but the damage was already done, I almost felt like the coaching staff just assumed because they were good all year that they needed no prep and could focus on Their new gig. Wake Forest respected us and they were ready for us. You are so right about coaching. On this day the better team lost but the better coached team won. The only shame with the current AAC bowl alignments even if we have a great 2017 no guarantee we will get a P5 bowl opponent which is so important. We had a chance to prove ourselves and lost to an average 6-6 P5 team.

  8. IMO, this was a loss because of the coaching situation and not the players. With no coaching staff changes, this is a win. But so much Confusion on both sides of the line. I don’t blame Foley. Other coaches’ heads were somewhere else. OL blocking was bad not because of effort but because Wake had total preparation for 3 weeks. Yes Walker should have thrown the ball away. But more often, he had a Wake kid in his face before he could get set to throw. That kid has heart and tried to make plays. But the Wake kids never missed a tackle and our kids frequently did. Maybe WF was really an 8-4 team rather than 6-6 WO the play information leaks. Who knows? But very embarrassing for the AAC. And my worse feeling was hearing the WF chanting “ACC, ACC” knowing this TU team and other AAC can compete with those teams.

    But I’m looking forward to another chamionship run under Collins. And if he’s gone in 4 years, then I’m guessing it will be after winning one as with Rhule. My hope, though, is that he actually plans for positioning one of his coordinators as a successor if the program is maintaining a similar level of success. (I understand there is a level of due diligence required and a current staff coach would have to get the HC on merit.). But this conference’s champions and other successful teams face the possibilty of going into their bowl games with their HC having been hired away. I just want to see a way where the AAC kids aren’t handicapped because of the coaching situation like our kids had.

  9. Heard rumors that practices were a joke. it was almost as if there was a substitute teacher and the students took advantage. Kids had to feel that they were abandoned and didn’t give it all they had or would have if Rhule stayed. By the way, Foley as special teams coach is a joke. The entire season kick offs have been a problem and until the final TU kickoff return of the season they had no memorable returns. Also putting a kid back to return punts who had done it rarely killed the Owls. Don’t know if anyone caught this but when the WF kid muffed the punt, instead of stopping in front of the returner as he was about to catch the ball our gunner ran right by him. Had he stopped in front of the kid like he should have, he would have likely recovered the fumble. Also on the big kick off return WF had, two kids ran out of their lanes, opening a hole a truck could have run through. This game reminded me of the Maryland game several years ago where a valiant comeback fell short. Sad to see the o-line coach leaving because until the last game. the line improved every game. One more point, UConn will not remain the doormat they’ve been now that Edsell’s back. Unlike the old coach, he knows TU, and not USF, is his primary rival when it comes to recruits and he likely still has connections to local coaches. Kids like Wright won’t be leaving Connecticut anymore.

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