Like many Temple fans who attended that rainy Cherry and White Day, a particular T-Shirt caught my eye among the many they were peddling along merchant row.
It was white with Cherry lettering and the words simply said: “Temple Football: Mayhem is Coming.” I thought the $33 price tag was a little steep for a cotton T-shirt, but I plucked down the big bucks nonetheless because this was something different in usual Temple athletic fashion wear.
Wore the shirt all summer to the gym and a few people asked me about it. I said, “Mayhem is getting into the backfield, creating fumbles and interceptions and scoring on defense. This is what the new coach is supposed to bring to Temple.”
So far, so bad.
No Mayhem, except in the coaching box.
Not that many fumbles nor interceptions from the vanilla defensive packages the defense runs nor blitzes designed to create both. After the Notre Dame game, new head coach Geoff Collins said that the embarrassing total of 49 points were on what he called “misfits” and that 90 percent of the 422 yards rushing against the Owls came on 17 plays. That begs a couple of questions. One, isn’t the nine months of practice before the Notre Dame game enough time for cleaning up any potential “misfits” and, two, seventeen plays are a lot of plays. Just the fact that the Irish gouge you for big plays does not mitigate responsibility for allowing them.
The Owls have one tackle, Greg Webb, who started against Navy and was an immovable object (against an option offense that scored 76 on SMU the week before) who seems to have fallen out of favor with this staff. The Owls showed more defensive Mayhem against Navy in that one game last year than they have displayed in two this season. The Owls have another four-star tackle, Karamo Dioubate, who the day he committed to the Owls took a phone call in Buffalo Wild Wings (Roosevelt Blvd, Northeast Philly) from none other than Nick Saban trying to get him to flip his commitment to Alabama. KD said thanks but no thanks. KD wasn’t “above the line” so he did play not at all on Saturday. KD showed flashes of that talent as a true freshman last year and looked to be primed to break into stardom by the aforementioned Cherry and White Game. KD is not hurt nor is Webb. Let’s get these two difference-makers into the UMass game.
It would seem to me if you are going to for Mayhem without blitzing it would behoove the Owls to have players on the field who are capable of creating it on their own. To me, Villanova was more appalling than even the Notre Dame embarrassment because the Owls’ defensive secondary which shined under the “Snowstorm Defense” was cut to pieces being led by a coordinator in Taver Johnson, who did not have championship level defenses in his past. Just what has Taver Johnson done to merit him being hired as DC at Temple? I’ve looked at his bio up and down and sideways and have not seen it. At least, with Chuck Heater, Temple hired a guy who was a National Championship defensive coordinator. Let that last sentence soak in for awhile. With Phil Snow, he was a great DC with Arizona State and UCLA in the 1980s. With Johnson, his most impressive credential is that he is Geoff Collins’ friend. No national championships, no history as a great DC anywhere previously.
Ultimately, as the CEO of this Temple football operation, Collins is responsible.
There seems to be a subset line of thought that “it’s only one game, give the guy a chance” excuses coming out after Notre Dame followed by “it’s only two games, give the guy a chance” coming out of Villanova. Let’s get this straight: No one is calling for Collins to be fired. Anyone who knows Temple knows this guy has a job at Temple for life, unless he wins eight games and then he lets Ed Foley coach the bowl game. Let’s not kid ourselves here. If the guy who “wanted to sign a 10-year contract” is out after year four, nobody makes it to five years at Temple with a modicum of success. By “give the guy a chance” I mean dissect if what he is telling you is bull or part of an overall plan. Give the guy a chance?
The problem with that logic is one game quickly becomes two games and, before you know it, eight games become 12 games. Hopefully, those same people are not saying “it’s only been a year” and still waiting to the kind of Mayhem Collins promised he would bring. How about it getting here by Friday? You’ll know it’s here with at least two fumbles recovered and one interception to the house. Anything less (and this is a very low standard) is a Ponzi Scheme designed to sell $33 T-Shirts.
Wake me up when Mayhem arrives. Until then, that nice $33 cotton T-shirt will remain in the closet collecting the same mothballs as the Mayhem we have been promised.
Thursday: UMass Preview