Adventures in woulda, coulda, shoulda land

Editor’s Note: The following is an analysis of the game from Fizzy Weinraub, a former player in the pre-coach Hardin days. In the above video, he is fighting with his fellow Owls in a game against Gettysburg (hey, you play who was on the schedule). Literally, fighting in the final frame of this film.

 

weinraub

You want swag? Fizzy oozes swag.

                   By Dave (Fizzy) Weinraub

Defensively, we were not ready for prime time.  Notre Dame pretty much did what they wanted, although they got more than a little help from their friends.  Let me back-track.

Two weeks ago at the mostly closed scrimmage we had at Franklin Field, I had a chance to spend some time with Dr. Pat Kraft, our AD.  Our conversation meandered about as I couldn’t resist the opportunity to tell some wonderful Temple football stories.  Then Pat brought up the elephants in the room whenever you play Notre Dame. They are the officials, and how they had made some tenuous calls even when the game was here in 2015.  We talked about the mystique that seemed to envelop the officials, especially in South Bend.

Don’t get me wrong.  We lost yesterday because we couldn’t stop them, along with some questionable offensive strategies, which I’ll get too shortly.  However, I saw three Notre Dame running touchdowns during which holding, shoulda, woulda, coulda been called.  In addition, there was the very questionable roughing the passer called in our red zone after we had stopped them, and last but not least, the no-call when our receiver was clearly interfered with in the end zone.  If you don’t believe me, come on over as I have it on tape.  (If you come over, bring a bottle of Jack.)

Sometimes I wonder if all the offensive coordinators in college football get together over the winter and decide which plays they’re going to run.  It’s like channel surfing and seeing the same Tom and Jerry cartoon on every channel.  

Consider this, we’re behind by one, two, and then three touchdowns and mostly running the ball on first and second down.  Yes, we were trying to establish the run and not altogether doing a bad job of it. But, you have to adapt to the situation. And if you’re using the ground game to eat the clock, then you should have stayed home.

Believe it or not, there was an outside chance of winning yesterday’s game.  Notre Dame’s pass defense is only mediocre. Watch and see how they get beat in weeks to come, and I’m sure scouts will see what I saw.  We shoulda thrown caution to the winds, opened up the offense and thrown the hell out of the ball.

One last comment.  If I’m running the ball effectively, and want to go for the home run, I’m gonna do it from play action on an obvious running down.  Why would you just drop back?    

But there’s good news.  We’ve got as much talent, or more, than anyone we’ll play for the next eleven games.  Properly orchestrated, I look forward to being in the conference championship game once more.

Tomorrow: Above The Line

Thursday: Throwback Day    

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Below The Line: Collins, Johnson

Here’s the good news coming out of Notre Dame’s 49-16 win over Temple on Saturday.

Geoff Collins is not going anywhere.


You can talk about SWAG all
you want and play the guitar
in practice, bring the kids
from the band and play drums
on the E-O field, but you clock
in for three hours every Saturday
and your job performance is determined
on that day only. You can talk about
how hard you work and how tough you
are and how much Mayhem you’ll bring,
but the scoreboard on Saturday
is the final arbiter.

Here’s the bad news.

Temple might not want him nor would it matter if they don’t.

Ask anyone who follows Temple football or basketball. They can get just enough scratch together to hire a coach, but they certainly do not have the money to eat these big contracts. So expect Cheesesteaks with the coach for a lot of Fridays going forward.

I did not expect Temple to win this game against Notre Dame, but I certainly expected the Owls to give a better effort, especially on defense. In my preseason prediction, I had the Owls losing this game, 17-13, not 49-16.

My reasoning was this team has a lot of good defensive linemen and an excellent secondary. I thought those were more than enough to offset a group of athletic, but inexperienced linebackers.

Here are five other things we learned:

toldyou

This Looks Like Steve Addazio 2.0 (so far)

Collins, like Daz, a coordinator from Florida, has done a lot of very Daz-like things so far and one was burning Aaron Boumerhi’s redshirt on the opening kickoff. Again, anyone following Temple football knows the Owls had a very good kicker, Brandon McManus, followed by a very bad kicker in Jim Cooper Jr. Getting another Aaron Boumerhi or Austin Jones is not a slam dunk and it would have been nice to have Boomer for the 2020 season. That is out the window. Also have to wonder on the hire of Taver Johnson as defensive coordinator. These players are too good to give up 49 points and 422 yards rushing to anyone. Johnson has never been a DC at the FBS level. Would have liked for him to have a track record somewhere else first. At least, Daz was smart enough to hire Chuck Heater and make him “head coach of the defense.”  Temple had back-to-back shutouts under Heater in 2011. It hasn’t accomplished that since. If this bleeding continues, Collins should have Heater on speed dial. If not, give up his job as coach of the fullbacks and become head coach and DC.

marchi

Marchi, Marchi, Marchi

I thought he did OK but what happened to this talk about all four quarterbacks playing? Did he do “OK enough” to not see another quarterback? No. They must not be enamored with Frankie Juice, either, to leave Logan in the game for four quarters. I think Marchi deserves the start against Villanova, but it’s the quarterback’s job to put points on the board in bunches so any series without points against that squad should mean the other guys get a chance and fast.  Anthony Russo is not a great practice quarterback, ala Vaughn Charlton, but he’s certainly a proven big-game quarterback in his high school past and he’s closer to Adam DiMichele in ability than Charlton. The other three guys are not. He deserves a chance to play in a real game if the Owls struggle to move the ball again.

Do the talking on the field

Any chance the Owls had of Notre Dame taking them lightly went out the window when two of those rookies, who shall remain nameless here, basically said the Owls were going to “kick Notre Dame’s ass.” That works only if you back it up. Collins should zip all pie holes going forward.

Temple summer practice, football,

What Could Have Been

Temple dropped two sure interceptions for touchdowns and, on the Mike Jones’ interception return, he EASILY could have scored had he waited for Sean Chandler to block the remaining fat and slow Notre Dame offensive lineman. Instead, he took a route to the sideline. All he had to do was cut it inside, where Chandler was setting up to block, and he would have had six. Also, Jacob Martin was held on one of Notre Dame’s touchdowns and the AAC refs did not catch it. Closer, but the way this defense was playing, it would have made the score window dressing. Say, 49-34, instead of 49-16.

Below The Line

You can talk about SWAG all you want and play the guitar in practice, bring the kids from the band and play drums on the E-O field, but you clock in for three hours every Saturday and your job performance is determined on that day only. You can talk about how hard you work and how tough you are and how much Mayhem you’ll bring, but the scoreboard on Saturday is the final arbiter. The offense scoring 16 points was not unexpected (we had them scoring 13 in a 17-13 loss). The defense failed to meet even minimum expectations and, for that, both Collins and Johnson fall below the line this week. Here’s the bottom line with this below the line grade. With a much worse group of players, Matt Rhule and Phil Snow went into Notre Dame and gave up just 28 points in a 2-10 year. Good coaches get the most out of their talent and Rhule and Snow did that day, but Collins and Johnson did not on this one.

Unfortunately, on this depth chart, there is no one above them. Right now, just a big blank space above a Cherry and White line.

Monday: A Former Temple Player’s Take on The Game

Tuesday: Above The Line

Thursday: Throwback Thursday

Spaghetti Midwestern

midwestern

Watching the so-called “Spaghetti plots” over the last few days that plotted the projected path of Harvey, one of them had the storm directly over Indiana by “Saturday PM.”

Temple and Notre Dame both seemingly have dodged a bullet because subsequent plots have put the remnants closer to, say, Philadelphia than South Bend.

While rain is considered the great equalizer on the football field and a nightmare for Las Vegas, if Temple would be fortunate enough to win on Saturday in a monsoon the narrative would have been it wasn’t a fair fight and the Owls won due to the elements. This is like one of those old Spaghetti Westerns, so named because they were mostly made in Italy. They all had a simple plot. Good guy versus bad guy and a lot of action with a satisfying result at the end.

spaghetti

This is how close Harvey came to helping out Geoff.

Call this a Spaghetti Midwestern, where the bad guys depend on which side of the economic tracks you are on in today’s modern day college football reality. It’s really hard to imagine that, unless you are Irish, Catholic or a Notre Dame fan for life why you would be rooting for anyone but Temple in this one.

People who follow this blog usually know in this space the day before a Temple game we talk about the matchups, how the Owls should attack and expect to be attacked.

In all honestly, we don’t know Jack this year. New quarterbacks, mostly new coaches, new coordinators for both teams. Of course, the returning head coach, Brian Kelly, presided over a 2016 team that lost to a Navy team that could not get within a sniff of Temple in the most important game of both team’s seasons. (Apologies to Navy, but winning the AAC title game is still more important than an Army game that you’ve won 10-straight times.)

This we do know: Temple has a GREAT defense and will smack you in the mouth. Whether those body blows result in a TKO or Mayhem turns into touchdowns the other way, we will find out Saturday. In this space, and at this moment, we will focus on the larger picture.

Certainly, all of the Group of Five schools will be rooting for Temple. They’ve been dealt a bad hand by the BCS Power 5 schools who have engineered a hostile takeover of college football and dictated to the NCAA what the rules are and who should be in their title game. They have made it a virtual impossibility that any G5 school ever make it into a championship.

Fortunately, the basketball side of the NCAA has avoided that doomsday fate but the P5 is certainly positioning itself for a hostile takeover of that wonderful tournament as well.

A win for Temple in this game will not cure all of those ills but would certainly be a step in the right direction. Certainly there have been other high-profile wins by G5 schools over P5 schools, with Houston beating Oklahoma last year, Memphis beating Ole Miss in 2015 and Temple beating Penn State in that same year.

None of them have moved the needle closer to fairness because those schools are still have-nots in a sport of haves. A win here would be slightly different in that the Owls would do this in the first week of a long season before a national television audience and, if they were to keep the momentum for as long as they did in 2015, they would have to be mentioned as a possible playoff team by the highly paid talking heads. One of those talking heads this year is a Temple grad, Kevin Neghandi, who will run the college football show for ESPN this fall.

That kind of platform is not available for any other G5 school and Temple will at least build the stage with a win on Saturday. It is helpful that Hurricane Harvey does not make a visit to throw a caveat into what would be such a glorious victory.

Sunday: Game Analysis

Tuesday: Above The Line

Thursday: Throwback Thursday

 

When Home Is Enemy Territory

The 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State game was the first “Game of the Century.”

When I was young enough to discover this thing called college football, I kept hearing about “Game of the Century” for a full week in the fall of 1966. There have been only two subsequent centuries but the hype would be similar for 20 or 30 games after that one.

In my mostly Irish Catholic Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood, the talk of the sports world that time was the game between Michigan State and Notre Dame.

diggingit

From oddshark.com, a Vegas betting site with an outstanding record for picking upsets. Do not know how Notre Dame scores the .2 tenths of a point, though.

Nobody was rooting for Michigan State.

To me, as a kid, I never understood what the big deal was. I always rooted or the local teams, the Phillies, the Eagles, the Sixers.

“Is Notre Dame local? I can’t get into it.”

Others, though, did partly because I guess they thought rooting for the Irish would get them the necessary plenary indulgences to get through the back door of Heaven.

It was about that time I started watching Temple football every Saturday night on Channel 17, the UHF station. Al Meltzer handled the play-by-play and Charlie Swift the color. I started getting into it. This was MY college football team from MY hometown.

Football played a big part of my decision on where to attend college. The fact that my favorite college football team also had a journalism school attached to it did not hurt, either.

Little did I know the team representing that school would ever play a team that was involved in the college game of the last century, but that’s where were in 2013, 2015 and a couple of afternoons from today.

The residue of that first game of the century are still around today in Philadelphia, where Notre Dame claims a much larger fan base than even Penn State and Temple.

Hard to believe Harry (Donahue), but Notre Dame has a large “subway alumni” fan base in Philadelphia. They helped fill Lincoln Financial Field in 2015 and were mostly gracious to the Temple fans around them.

templebar

No one will be rooting for Temple at The Temple Bar on Saturday in Dublin, Ireland.

When Will Fuller, a four-star wide receiver from one mile down the street from Temple (Roman Catholic High), beat a walk-on named Will Hayes for the game-winning score, a steady line of these fans shook my hand walking out the stadium and told me things like, “congratulations, your team played a great game.” For someone who probably puts too much emphasis on winning, it was only mildly consoling.

I’m like Vince Lombardi. Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.

In bars and taverns all over Philadelphia, there will green-glad Irish fans who are expecting the winning thing to happen as a normal course of events. You could probably walk out of Two Logan Square, where Temple is having its official Watch Party, and duck into every Center City bar within a four-block radius and see it packed with Golden Domers. (Heck, at The Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland, the kickoff will be at 8:30 p.m. and no one will be rooting for Temple.)

It would be nice to crash one of those parties late in the fourth quarter on Saturday.

Temple finally shook off 74 years of frustration a couple of years ago in beating Penn State. Oddly enough, to me, the greatest satisfaction was not seeing the final seconds tick off but the entire fourth quarter watching a steady stream of glum Penn State fans exit the stadium because that game was over some time in the third quarter.

Those Penn State fans entered the stadium around 3:30 that afternoon thinking a win was in the normal course of human events. Notre Dame fans walking into taverns all over Philly on Saturday probably have adopted the same mindset. Few things would be more satisfying than to see similar assumptions disabused by the real hometown team this Saturday.

Catching those green-painted faces file out of those parties in my hometown with sullen looks would be just as satisfying. It might not be The Game of the Century, but it would be close enough.

Friday: Spaghetti Western

Sunday: Lessons Learned

 

 

Eye Of The Needle

needle

In Mark 11-23-27, a God-like figure who goes by the initials JC and is not John Chaney said, “it is easier for a Camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Whew.

I guess you and I dodged a bullet by not winning that $700 million lottery on Wednesday night, simply because eternity is just a bit longer than the 50-100 years we get to live on this planet and, if you had to chose one, you’d chose eternity.

What has proven to be just as difficult, though, is for a Group of Five team to enter the Kingdom of College Football Heaven. That’s how corrupt college football has become in an era where the Power 5 sets the rules and the Group of Five must follow or go home.

The bad news is that Temple is PROBABLY not going to get into Paradise this year. The good news is that it’s possible should this scenario occur:

  1. Temple beats Notre Dame
  2. Notre Dame beats everyone else
  3. Temple beats everyone else

Crazy, because crazy things rarely happen. Yeah, we know that’s pretty nigh impossible but, on the eve of a college football season, we can dream, can’t we?
Really, the MOST crazy part of this equation is if Notre Dame loses to Temple, it’s hard to see the Irish run through the rest of a schedule that includes teams like Southern Cal and Georgia. Still, after losing to Army in the opener last year, did you ever envision Temple winning the toughest G5 Conference?

I did not think so.

So say both Temple and Notre Dame run through their regular seasons unbeaten. It would be pretty impossible for even a P5-stacked selection committee to pick one-loss ND over unbeaten Temple for a slot in the Final Four given the fact that the unbeaten team won at the one-loss team.

There are not many G5 teams that have a similar pathway into the Final Four because they have not scheduled a marquee team.

If the G5 is ever going to crash this rich man’s party, then this year is the year and Temple is the G5 team and the first step is winning at Notre Dame.

Somewhere, the real Touchdown Jesus would probably look down and at least crack a smile if that happens.

We can pray Notre Dame does its part. The Owls will have to handle their part on their own accord by winning three more games than we predicted them to two days ago.

Can’t happen?

Yeah, probably, but as long as both teams are unbeaten (and both are now) we will dream our dreams and others are free to dream theirs.

Monday: Game Week (Can You Believe It?)

Tuesday: Enemy Territory

Perception Versus Reality

touchdown-jesus

Father forgive them, for they know not what they say.

Very few things surprise me these days, but I will have to admit I was surprised by this post that appeared on OwlsDaily.com by a Notre Dame fan who has been trolling that site all summer:

ndfan

That Notre Dame fan could not be more wrong.

“Both defensive end starters?”

Hmm.

Jacob Martin, one of the replacements, has a single digit for a reason. His teammates consider him one of the nine toughest players on the team and they have for the past two years. The other defensive end, Sharif Finch was a starter for the THREE previous years before being injured a  year ago and was the key defensive playmaker in a 2015 win over Penn State. He is also one of the nine toughest players on the team as voted by his 105 teammates.

Funny, I looked very hard for that qualifier in the Notre Dame fan’s post but could not find it.

He just assumes that because Temple lost two DE starters, it will have a dropoff in that area. Sorry to disabuse him of the notion, but it is not happening.

The same can be said for his other incorrect assumptions regarding the rest of the interior defensive line. Freddy Booth-Lloyd was not a starter at nose tackle/DT but certainly logged as much time as the starter, Averee Robinson. Michael Dogbe and Greg Webb were starters, as well as Karamo Dioubate. This line might be better than last year’s group.


In another post, the same
Notre Dame guy says,
“the more I read about
this game the more convinced
I am that it will get ugly early.”

In another post, the same Notre Dame guy says, “the more I read about this game the more convinced I am that it will get ugly early.”

There are no such assumptions from the Temple side, even though the Owls entered the last two bowl games ranked in the Top 25. The only expectation that the Owls bring  is that they will be ready for a street fight and really that’s the only way to approach this one. Respect everyone, fear no one.

What the linebackers lack in experience, they more than make up for in talent. Linebacker coach Andrew Thacker said the two units are so talented, he might run in two sets of starters. We all know the secondary is the strongpoint of the defense. Even the ND fan will admit that.

Of course, the quarterback situation is a bit of a concern but the same could be said for Notre Dame’s starter, Wimbush. Nice QB, with a high pedigree, but the Owls have a guy in Anthony Russo, who was recruited by LSU, and, if he’s beaten out, they will have more than a capable replacement for P.J. Walker.

If perception versus reality is an indicator of how things will go on 9/2/17, I like the Owls’ chances. I really like from a psychological standpoint how this game is shaping up for the Owls. There are a lot of guys who think this game will get ugly on their side and a lot of guys on our side who will be ready to go to war.

As someone whose image is plastered in one Notre Dame end zone once said, “Father Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Or, in this case, say.

Monday: The Final Scrimmage

QB Dilemma: Nutile Looks Like The Guy

gelbster

Zach Gelb at the EO interviewing Chris Coyer’s kid back in the day.

Make no mistake, Geoff Collins has a quarterback dilemma.

Not necessarily a quarterback PROBLEM, but certainly a dilemma.

A “problem” is picking between Chester Stewart and Vaughn Charlton. Both came to Temple with dubious credentials, with Charlton throwing for only nine TDs as a high school senior at Avon Grove. The Strath Haven assistant coach who called in track results to the Philadelphia Inquirer had this to say about him: “Mike, what is Temple thinking? That guy blows.”

A little harsh, but Charlton was never a high-end FBS quarterback. Or, in my humble opinion, a quarterback you could win a FBS championship with under center.

These four guys new coach Geoff Collins has to work with all had much better high school careers than Charlton or Stewart and these are four guys Temple can win a championship with now.

This group of guys is a significant upgrade from those days.

The press is allowed only to see the last 10-15 minutes of every practice, so the appearance of the Zach Gelb Radio Show on campus recently gave some clues about what will happen. Two hours of unfettered access on one day tells you a lot more than 10-15 minutes on every day.

Gelb, a Temple grad, got really the first unfettered press access but, despite his pleas of “it’s my birthday” Collins wasn’t going to give him the icing on the cake with a premature anointing of a starter.

Suffice it to say that a parade of guests—heard through the prism of what sounded like someone stepping on the transmission lines—indicated that the guy throwing to the ones (Keith Kirkwood, Adonis Jennings and Ventell Bryant) the most this summer camp was Frankie “Juice” Nutile.

juice

In other words, there is a scrimmage on Saturday at Franklin Field and Nutile (pronounced NEW TILE) would have to throw about three interceptions to cause the quarterback depth chart to shift.

Combine that with the fact that Collins himself let slip the quote “the team seems to move the ball best with him in there” and the unmistakable notion is that in the next week or so Nutile will be named the guy.

Is that reading too much into it?

Perhaps.

True freshman Toddy Centeio also has received high praise from his teammates, but he unmistakably is running with the third team and throwing against third-team DBs. He appears headed for a redshirt.

That leaves Anthony Russo and Logan Marchi and those two mostly with the “twos” (in other words, Jager Gardner is the back he hands off to most, while Nutile hands off to Ryquell Armstead).

Collins told Gelb a lot will depend on this weekend’s scrimmage at Franklin Field (closed to the public) and how they do against live bullets. He also told Gelb that this isn’t a “gut” decision and that he and offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude (pronounced Patton Nude) have set up a baseball-like metrics system that tells them which quarterback moves the team better. That’s comforting to know the decision won’t come down to pulling the name out of the hat.

Other gems from the interviews:

kid

Stadium: All talk, no action.

 

Pat Kraft (Temple AD):

Gelb, who asks the best questions of any of the Temple media (hell, Pravda could learn a lot from his questions), started out by asking Dr. Kraft what he knew about the stadium situation and Kraft said: “You know more about it than me.” Not an exaggeration, since Kraft has been taken out of the loop because, as he explained, a “subcommittee of the Board of Trustees is handling all of that now and that’s where it is.” So, in short, the stadium is all talk and no action.

Scott Walcoff (Temple associate AD): 

The intro at the stadium on the Jumbotron will be new and improved, but he could not spill the beans despite Gelb waving the birthday card. Also, people going to the Billy Joel concert the day Temple plays will get into the Temple game for $10 by simply showing their Piano Man ticket.

Delvon Randall (safety):

Said that no Temple player sits and “chills” during practice, like they did with Matt Rhule, but that the drills going on can look like a cluster. “You want to add another word after that, don’t you?” Gelb said. OK, we’ll say it: Cluster Fuck. That might not be a good thing for game-day preparation, but we shall see. All I want out of Temple practices this year is so much concentration on detail that we will never again see a 120-yard penalty day like we did at Penn State last  year. Matt Rhule screwed the pooch with his preparation the week of that game and it cost Temple a win over a P5 champ.

projectmayhem

Collins:

Said the best thing about being a Temple coach is “being around these kids. They are the best group of kids I’ve been around as a coach anywhere. They are competitive. They love to practice. They love to compete and they love to be coached” and that he doesn’t want to put the pressure of getting another 10-win season on them but “I want to take all of that on myself.”

Monday: Quarterback Casting