Did the Purple People Eaters ever give up 52 points in a single game?
How about the Monsters of the Midway?
Or The Steel Curtain, Killer B’s, Orange Crush or Fearsome Foursome?
No, no, no, and no.
Yet Temple’s not-so-famous “Darkside Defense” has now given up 52 points and 45 points in two separate games.
It’s getting pretty close to infamous.
Time to hand in that nickname badge at the door unless the team does something spectacular to earn Temple head coach Geoff Collins’ given nickname for his defense, like shutting out a high-powered Houston squad on Saturday night (7 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
It used to be back in the not-so-olden days that you had to do something to get a unit nickname, like, you know, earn it. The 2011 Temple defense that posted consecutive shutouts under DC Chuck Heater probably deserved a nickname. Based on the body of work so far, this one does not. You can make all of the nice graphics about defensive statistics, but the one that should count the most is points allowed and, in two important games, this defense has come up short.
Now Collins hands out nicknames like candy and The Dark Side is appropriate only if you were a Temple fan watching the gloom and doom of UCF scoring 24 second-half points on it.
The Owls, who by and large had been a sure-tackling team this season, got no pressure on the quarterback and gave a clinic on bad arm tackling in the second half that should be put on a DVD and sent to every high school coach in America to show kids how not to tackle.
Make no mistake, there is plenty of talent on this defense but there are no sadder words than what might have been. Could you imagine a Temple front four of Karamo Dioubate (6-3, 295) and Quincy Roche (6-4, 235) at the ends and Freddy Booth-Lloyd (6-1, 330), Dan Archibong (6-6, 285) and Michael Dogbe (6-3, 280) clogging up the middle? Imagine is something you’d have to do because the Owls have rotated in two smaller ends and played High School All-American DE Dioubate out of position as a DT. As a result, they get pushed around too much in the middle and are vulnerable on edge rushes.
It would seem to me that keeping the “good guys” in the game should be a priority going forward. I’d rather have a “gassed” Dioubate, Roche, FBL, Archibong and Dogbe in there than some of the “fresh” other guys, so maybe that’s something the rookie defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker has to take a look at.
Rotation is supposed to be to keep the guys fresh but when the above playmakers are in the game, the Owls are a pretty good defense. They get into trouble when the smaller starters are in to get more easily blocked or the less talented backups. It all starts up front.
That’s part of the reason the points continue to pile up. Another could be a departure from fundamentals.
After a similar poor-tackling game against Pitt in his rookie year, Bruce Arians called a 6 a.m. practice where everyone put on full pads and hit for three hours. “Rookie coaching mistake,” Arians said of the Pitt game. “I let up on them because we had some injuries and we were not nearly physical enough. We hit in practice for enough hours until I was satisfied with their tackling. We really got after it and that was our most physical practice of the season. The kids got the message. People who played us the rest of that year had a lot of bruises and bumps and injuries in the training room the next day.”
Collins loves this team to death, but maybe some tough Arians’ love is in order now.
There is enough quality on this defense to finish out the season strong, but probably not enough quantity. The Owls should ride the quality as long as they can.
Until then, let the nicknames be earned, not given.
Friday: The Houston Side
Sunday: Game Analysis