This game turned the season around.
If anyone deserves a shout out for nailing Temple’s season, it is The Sporting News which bucked the trend of most publications and predicted the Owls would win the overall AAC championship.
This site also felt that was an achievable goal and insisted all along the accepted notion that Temple would “take a step back” from last year’s 10-4 record was not only the incorrect but preposterous.
Since Cherry and White Day, our usual benchmark for getting a feel for the fall, we’ve been beating the drums that the Owls would win the overall AAC title despite the fact that most so-called experts had Houston and South Florida in the title game. We also thought that this team would set the school record for wins (11) and they probably would have had they had a full coaching staff over the last three weeks leading up to the bowl game.
Several months later, The Sporting News agreed with us and picked the Owls to win the whole thing.
The reasoning was simple. The areas where the Owls lost NFL talent (line, linebacker and wide receiver) were the three strongest areas on the team. In fact, the entire speed of the defense was significantly upgraded and, since the Achilles Heel of the 2015 Owls was mobile quarterbacks, we thought the overall speed of the defense would be enough to contain the mobile quarterbacks.
That’s exactly what happened.
… On defense, the players
were still looking to the
sideline for a defensive call
when the ball was snapped.
Obviously, the result of the
defensive coaches missing eight
practices between Dec. 4 and 27.
Those are breach-of-contract
numbers, but there probably
is nothing the Temple
administration can do
about it now. Those bandits
have already left for Waco.
Any overall analysis of the season has to be viewed from that backstory. It was a championship season in a pretty good league and that achievement can never be taken away from these Owls. (For all of the bowl failures, do not forget that Houston clobbered Louisville and Oklahoma and AAC also-rans UConn and ECU registered Power 5 wins over Virginia and North Carolina State, respectively. Navy beat Notre Dame as well. This is a great league.)
In our analysis, we were also realistic calling next year the “Step Back Year” and not this one. We’ll get to that in a later post, but “know-it-alls” on the other boards simply saw the names Temple lost and did not know about the talent in the system was already there to replace them. People who were close to the team knew, as did reporters who did their research like The Sporting News’ guy.
It was a season that had the greatest “drive” in Temple history, a 70-yard one with 32 seconds left and no time outs that resulted in a 26-25 win at UCF. From there, the Owls steamrolled everyone, including a USF team that beat South Carolina, another P5 team, yesterday, and a Navy team that was coming off consecutive games where it scored 75 and 66 points. Navy did not lose its best player until it trailed, 21-0, but even Roger Staubach wasn’t taking that team back from three touchdowns against that defense.
Really, the team Wake Forest saw wasn’t the same team because coaching means so much and, no matter how highly anyone thinks of Ed Foley, he is a 7-15 FCS head coach for a reason. Even Stevie Wonder can see you run your two backs who gained 918 yards each behind your fullback following your NFL first-round tackle, not to the weak side of the field. For some reason, Foley ran all the running plays to the weak side of his line and, as a result, they were mostly stuffed. On defense, the players were still looking to the sideline for a defensive call when the ball was snapped. Obviously, the result of the defensive coaches missing eight practices between Dec. 4 and 27. Those are breach-of-contract numbers, but there probably is nothing the Temple administration can do about it now. Those bandits have already left for Waco.
This was a season that saw P.J. Walker orchestrate a 70-yard drive with no timeouts and 32 seconds left that resulted in the first win of a seven-game winning streak. It saw a kicker who had a nation-leading 17-straight made field goals go down, only to be replaced by a freshman who was money. For the Owls, it was like Joey Coyle finding all that money that fell off a Brinks’ Truck as it, too, it was totally unexpected.
Nothing that happened this week should take anything away from that. It was a championship season, THE championship season. We’ll have to wait until next year to see what TSN writes, but we’ll try to get a feel for the 2017 season in the months ahead. Meanwhile, TSN can say they told you so.
So can we.
Sunday: The Three Things
Tuesday: The Coaching Staff