Winning a bowl game is what you practice in the snow for in February.
Editor’s Note: I met Fizz at a tailgate in the Al Golden years and immediately hit it off with him. If this truly is his last submission of the season, we thank him for his contributions. Not only a great former Temple player, but more importantly a great guy to talk to at the tailgates and we both had a good talk with Temple AD Dr. Pat Kraft together last year.
By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub
That the Delaware Valley win over Husson University (???) was on page 7 of the Inquirer, and Temple’s victory over Tulsa was on Page 9, about sums up the season. Six and six, when we woulda, coulda, shoulda been nine and three, was a disappointing beginning to Geoff Collins tenure.
For me, it wasn’t the record itself, but the questionable coaching strategies exhibited throughout the year. My doubts began at the semi-closed scrimmage at Franklin Field, before the Notre Dame game. After watching for an hour, I remarked to a former teammate, “I hope that’s not the offense.” Unfortunately, for the first eight games, it was the offense. I called it the “Broad Street” offense because everything was straight ahead. On a creative scale of 1 to 10, our offense was a 1.
There is a chance Fizz gets his swag on in Boca Raton again like he did in this photo two years ago.
Briefly, I want to comment on the Tulsa game which looked like the raggedy-ass cadets vs. the one-armed robot. I never thought I’d see a college game where a team didn’t have a quarterback, but that’s what happened. Tulsa had a wide-receiver playing QB at the end, and yet we couldn’t stop the off-tackle left and right. Their running back gained over 220 yards. Imagine!
Back in the day, did you ever meet a pretty girl, and yet there was no magic? Although his play-calling improved significantly in the last three games, Dave Patenaude has shown little magic. For example, he runs successfully three times in a row, and then wants to pass. Fine! But in that situation you throw from play-action, not from drop-back.
Next, after Tulsa almost blocked two extra-points in a row, we decide to go for a long field goal at fourth-and-three, on their thirty-four yard line. Why? The result was a blocked kick. How about the split or “cheese-steak” offensive set? Dave goes to that in the fourth quarter, and runs the same play he’s run every time before; the quick throw to Wright. Doesn’t he know they’ve seen that play on tape? If you’re going to use that formation, you pump the throw to Wright, and have the end take off deep.
But the worst call of the game came with forty seconds left. We’re on their twelve-yard line, and all we had to do was take a knee to end the game. Instead, we ran Sharga up the middle. So what? Here’s what! We had a devastating knee injury to one of our offensive linemen.
Enough about the offense… We have a former SEC defensive coordinator as head coach, and yet we’ve had a porous pass defense until the very end. Even this past Saturday, we tried to cover triple wideouts with two defenders. On Tulsa’s scoring pass play in the first quarter, three receivers were open. Later, they would send three wideouts to one side, and one wideout on the other, just to setup the off-tackle run. We never adjusted, as the stats will show. Also, we lost two games at the very end because we didn’t have an effective pass prevent defense all year, and then there were the misused time-outs in the Connecticut game.
However, to be fair, the players love Collins, we won half our games, and the team always played with great enthusiasm. Next year, we’ll be able to add recruiting into the formula.
To sum up the 2017 season, the coaching staff earned a grade of “C.”
The Past and the Future
Al Golden with Matt Rhule as offensive coordinator, was a mediocre game-day combination.
Here’s one of the worst play calls I’ve ever seen. Trailing by ten points, and with ten minutes left in the game, we had a fourth and one, at the Navy forty yard-line. Al called a time-out, and when it was over, he punted. Knowing full-well Navy might control the ball for five minutes, he punted. Game over! (And I couldn’t even yell or scream because Al’s parents were sitting in front of me, so I went back to the corridor before losing it.)
When Steve Addazio wasn’t violently cursing at the kids, he just ran the football. Fortunately for him, he inherited a massive offensive front line.
I remember walking out of the bowl game in Albuquerque, and being asked by a former Owl and NFL kicker what I thought. I said this team should have had at least two more wins.
Matt Rhule was a fantastic administrative head coach and recruiter, and a lousy game-day coach.
How many times did we watch Matt call a timeout because he couldn’t decide on the play? Then, after the timeout, run up the middle.
What I’m trying to say is, I haven’t seen an imaginative, game day coach who possesses “magic” in well, forever. It’s not hard to identify the magic, you know it when you watch the game and see the continuous flow of the offense where play calls are unexpected, and keeps the defense on their heels. Right now, Doug Pederson has magic.
So can Geoff Collins ever capture it? Maybe! Doug Pederson’s play calling after the first three games last year was lousy. I’ve seen any number of coaches turn it around after they get a year under their belt. Dave Patenaude’s last three games were head and shoulders above the beginning of the year. If he’d just done that earlier, we’d have been fine. Maybe, just to please me, Dave will run one reverse, and one bootleg at the goal-line, each game. And our defense will figure out how to rush four, play a five man zone across the field with two deep safeties on either side, for an end-of-the-game prevent.
Thanks for reading my stuff this season. Writing helped me sleep at night. – Fizz
Saturday: Bowl Scenarios
Monday: The Bowl Reality