Scott Frost has taken an 0-12 team with none of his players and succeeded.
Just one night this season, it would be a perfectly welcome change to win without having to make excuses.
The Owls have played on two prior nights and there has been no wins to show for it, but plenty of excuses. Somehow the kids got blamed for the Army loss, even though the defensive scheme to stop the triple option was horrific because there was none. The Owls played good defense for the first half at Memphis and good offense for the second half but forgot to put a complete game together.
Greatness might not quit, but it certainly has brain farts in one loss and incomplete halves in the other under the bright lights.
Now the Owls play a third night game tonight (7:30 kickoff) at UCF and maybe the third night is a charm. Temple started as a night school and played plenty of night games in its football history, dating back to the 1940s, so the tradition of playing well at night should be there. At one time in the late 1960s and early 1970s, almost all of the home games were at night and were televised live in Philadelphia (Al Meltzer play-by-play, Charlie Swift color).
Night has spooked this version of the Owls and there is no better time to turn that around than tonight because the Owls find themselves in the revolting position of going 10-4 in one season and being a 3.5-point underdog to a team that finished 0-12 the same year. UCF was impressive with a 47-29 win at East Carolina and a 30-24 loss to Maryland. Temple lost to an Army team that gave Buffalo its only win in a 1-4 season. Any way you cut it, that’s pretty bad.
What has been the difference?
Certainly, UCF players are pretty much the same guys who went 0-12 a year ago and Temple, despite four big losses to the NFL, has MOST of its players back, too. Four key players leaving for the pros should not bring this kind of swing in the fortunes of the two programs, but it has because former Oregon offensive coordinator (and Nebraska quarterback) Scott Frost has been a coaching upgrade and, quite frankly, the Temple coaches have not done a very good job this year.
They have a better-than-average rollout quarterback in P.J. Walker who they insist on jamming into the square peg of being a Tom Brady type. He fits more nicely into the Russell Wilson hole. When will the Temple coaches ever learn? It better be tonight or the excuses might be the sacks Walker took dropping back or the tipped ball by a charging 6-foot-5 lineman that turned into a game-changing interception. Rolling out P.J. gives him better sightlines and a better chance at success.
Give the kid a chance.
On defense, the Owls have had problems with the occasional run being bust for long touchdowns against them despite having two proven defensive run-stoppers, Nick Sharga and Brian Carter, playing basically non-essential roles on offense. Will we see either or both players where there is a greater need for their skill set? It would be nice to see that type of personnel fix at least tried, but do not hold your breath.
Greatness might not quit, but it also should not be too stubborn to resist adjustments that need to be made.
Maybe tonight, but opportunities for hope are running out.
Picks this weekend:
TOLEDO giving the 31 over visiting Bowling Green (BGSU lost, 77-3, to Memphis; Toledo beat Maine, 45-3, and Maine took UConn into OT)
UMASS getting 14.5 over visiting Louisiana Tech (UMass lost to Florida by only 24-7 and Mississippi State, 42-35, two teams better than LT)
PITT giving the three at Virginia (which lost to Richmond, 37-20)
WESTERN KENTUCKY getting the 2.5 at MTSU
Tomorrow: Game Analysis