By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub
Lot’s of play-action on first down, QB keepers, and mostly pin-point passing kept Houston off-balance. It was an aggressive Temple football team that immediately took charge against a very good Houston team. Quickly, the coaching staff found that Houston’s Achilles heel was their missing all-American defensive tackle, Ed Oliver, and Ryquell Armstead went to work amassing 210 yards on 30 rushes, behind outstanding blocking. Oh, I almost forgot, he scored six touchdowns, too. Along the way, Ventell Bryant broke the Temple all-time receiving record and now has 2,277 yards.
Defensively, we contained the explosive Houston offense pretty well. Blitzes from the get-go, a blocked punt, and an assertive man-to-man pass coverage kept award-winning Houston QB, D’eric King, as much under control as possible. With 10:22 left in the game, we had a three-touchdown lead and it was time to relax; right? Not on your life.
In previous weeks, we had great coaching for 30 minutes, last week for 45 minutes, and last night for 50 minutes. We’re improving. Don’t get me wrong, it was a marvelous win, one that should get us some top 25 votes. If we win out, there’s a possibility we could end the season ranked. (It’s one hell of a long way from when I thought we might not win a game after losing to Buffalo and Villanova.) That’s important because it would mean a good bowl slot against a power-five conference team, giving us tremendous recruiting exposure – instead of playing Sarah Palin University of Nome, Alaska, who’s premier win was against the Ute’s of Saskatchewan. That bowl game, by the way, is scheduled to take place in Philadelphia, Mississippi, near the Choctaw Ridge. (Y’all remember Billy McAllister?)
So there are ten minutes left against Houston and we’re up 21 points. On offense, there’s a dilemma. Do we run the ball and the clock, or do we maintain our aggressive play calling and do some play-action on first down? Well, we did throw some, but it was our run calls that got too conservative. They were mostly just straight down Broad Street, and then we’re giving the ball right back to Houston.
But it’s the defense I totally didn’t understand. Why in the world were we still playing man-to-man pass coverage? Our pass defenders were dog tired, and we lost one of our best to a dubious targeting call. (The penalties mostly evened out, though.) In that situation, we should be rushing four, and playing various protective zones with the other seven guys, and there should always be a deep safety, last resort guy. Instead, we got beat for two cheap touchdowns on thirty-some yard passes. They should have been held to short-yardage gains which would have exhausted the clock.
Three other things as I nit-pick. We still cover three wide-outs with two pass defenders and a half of a linebacker who cheats that way. If I was throwing against that alignment, I’d go down the field with ten-yard passes. (Don’t let South Florida see this write-up.) Our coverage on the on-side kick was terrible, and we wasted time-outs on a field goal, punt, and kick-off. (I’m so glad we didn’t need them.)
However, we’re 6 – 4, with a chance to go 8 -4. The growth of this team has been remarkable and noticed by everyone connected to college football. Tally-Ho!
Thursday: USF Kryptonite