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