Taking Army Seriously

Montel Harris

The greatest TU performance ever against Army: 351 yards, 7 TDs by Montel Harris (8), here singing T for Temple U.

One of the themes on social media a year ago when someone looked down the schedule to a more compelling game was to concentrate on the next one.

The players even took that approach with the subtitle season slogan “What’s Next?” and that might have been a large part of the reason Temple tied a school record of 10 wins a year ago. That, and playing two more games than the 1979 team.

Before the UCF game, which was oh for the season, I mentioned to Tyler Matakevich that the great thing about him and his teammates this year was that I had confidence they were taking UCF just as seriously as Notre Dame. “Absolutely,” Tyler said, “that’s all we think about is what’s next and not what’s after that.”

What’s next is Army and hopefully these kids take the same approach that those kids did.

A good indication that they are is that the coaches are because Matt Rhule made a side trip to Air Force Academy last month to pick the braintrust there on how to stop the triple option. USAFA runs a more polished version of Army’s triple option. Temple was embarrassed against Navy’s version two years ago and did not seem to have an effective counter. A Temple defense that finished No. 4 in the country in points allowed gave up 31 to Navy that day and the loss—coupled with a 16-13 loss to Memphis—probably cost the Owls a bowl bid.

Not only is Temple making an investment in research and development, but the Owls also dedicated at least a half-hour to defending the Army triple option in spring practice. The Army game is well-placed from the Owls’ standpoint because they don’t have to cram triple option preparedness into a short work week.

The Owls are anywhere from 16.5 -22-point favorites on opening night, but they are approaching this like it’s a pick-em and that’s the best sign of all.

Monday: 5 Things We’d Like To See By Opening Day

Wednesday: Immediate Help Is On The Way

Friday: Temple Football Forever Goes On One-Week Summer Hiatus



7 thoughts on “Taking Army Seriously

  1. Maybe Army had a bad won-loss record last year but didn’t they play a lot of close games? They could be dangerous this season. Even with an “easy” schedule the Owls should still take it one at a time – it’s good practice for the mental aspect.

  2. They went into Penn State last year and lost, 20-13. They need to be taken seriously. The Temple team that rang up 63 points on them in 2012 went into that game as 2.5-point underdogs. Anything can happen. If you have a triple option team in the middle of the season, you are at a distinct disadvantage with only 1 week to prepare. Heartening to hear that we are doing something specific to prepare for this team with a 9-month head start.

    • Their game against PSU was so close because Franklin’s an idiot. Like Satterfield, he loves the sideline screen, a play that should be banned from football or at least limited to no more than three attempts a game. . A buddy of mine and I were screaming for three quarters for PSU to throw long passes and when they finally did, the game was over.

      • The Temple offense will score if they let the dogs out..,

        my concern is we need to find a designated person to whisper in Snow’s ear throughout the game, “hey coach, Army is going to run the football, did you hear me?”

  3. I’m a diehard Rutgers fan and loyal RU alum/ season-ticket holder since graduation but I think Mike does a great job with this blog (stumbled on it about 5 or so years ago and check back in every so often). I think Rutgers has played against the triple option every year since the early 90’s (with the exception of 2013) and as much as I love the tradition aspect of playing Army and Navy, I can’t say I’m too upset in us taking a break from the TO for a bit. It’s a royal pain to prepare for and the military academies just don’t quit.

    That being said, Army is still pretty early into a rebuild and are depleted. TU has clearly elevated their talent level from the ’12-’13 dip and are about 2 notches above Army at this point. Even with all that aside, all of the intangibles point your way on this one. I’ve come to believe that there’s 2 ‘good’ times to play an option team- at the beginning of the year (when they’re still working out the kinks/ getting into rhythm) or at the end of the year (option offense ballcarriers tend to sustain a number of injuries due to the constant hits/wear/tear). This is the 1st game of the year and you’re at home. Army is one of the most fumble-prone option teams I can recall over the last 6 seasons. While you have some big key losses on D and the O-line, you have a 4-year QB (basically) and some good pieces on O coming back. As long as you show up to play, I’d be shocked if you don’t win going away (or if it’s ever seriously in doubt past the 2nd quarter).

    After the ’04 Navy debacle Schiano/Rutgers really buckled down and set a sound blueprint for defending the TO (it’s not exactly rocket science but it tends to be easier said than done):

    -take away the FB dive
    -DE’s box out and hit the QB every (clean) chance they get (don’t worry about the pitchman)
    -Inside LB’s help take away FB dive and step up on anything that gets forced back inside
    -Outside LB’s/CB’s got outside contain and any pitchmen
    -STAY HOME and play your assignment (and watch the pass)

    On offense, you want to control the ball with the running game or be able to air the ball out and score a lot. Once you get up on a TO team by multiple scores in the 2nd half you’re just about there; that offense isn’t too conducive to multiple-score comeback wins. I think you’ll have to keep an eye on your new D starters (especially in the middle) but think TU likely wins this one relatively soundly.

    Joe P.

    • Thanks, Joe. Great post. It’s a joke Temple is playing Stony Brook on the same day Rutgers is playing Howard. Temple belongs playing Rutgers and neither school has any business playing Howard and Stony Brook. However, Stony Brook should play Howard. This, sadly, is the college football world we live in now. I would gladly give up the SB home game for a RU road game.

  4. Navy beat Temple because the Owls couldn’t stop the FB dive as I recall. FBL could sink that option.

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