Editor’s Note: Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub played football at Temple and has watched the Owls for longer than most any single fan. He’s seen a lot of bad and some good, so he knows how to separate the two by now. Here is his latest contribution.
By Dave (Fizzy) Weinraub
Well, we’re 2 & 1, just like everyone thought we’d be at the end of the exhibition season. But I’m not ever going to curse the football gods again because it’s a very deceptive 2 & 1. Consider this, if Villanova receivers hadn’t dropped five balls, and the Massachusetts kicker would have made his three “gimmes,” we’d be 0 & 3.
There was some improvement vs. Mass. A new quarterback came in with an option offense for a few plays, and Marchi ran a few options, and a two QB draws. There was more throwing on first down than previously, but still from straight drop-backs and not play-action. However, there still is the same run the ball on the first two plays in the red-zone philosophy (first possession), and run the ball up the gut on the first two plays, even after passing got us into Mass. territory in the fourth quarter. Once more, probably for the second time in college football history, our offensive coordinator shut down our passing game on the opposition’s forty-something yard line and ran the ball on second and third downs to set up (this time) a fifty-two yard field-goal attempt. Who does this? Even in the NFL they don’t do this unless it’s the last few seconds of a tie game. Are you kidding me?
Time management was again brought to question. For the second week in a row, we had to call time out after an injury time out, to get the play in. Hello!
Almost every coach says “we’re gonna play smash-mouth football.” The strength of this year’s team, however, is in the accuracy of our QB’s arm, and the wonderful skills of our receivers, both in catching and running after the catch. This offense should be based on throwing the ball, short and long. This team has to pass to set up the run. Gun and then run! We don’t have a Paul Palmer or a Khalid Thomas to bail us out. If we don’t play to our strengths as all great coaches do, it will be a long season.
Alas, and woe is me. For the third week in a row, our pass defense was porous. Even though we blitzed a lot more, and it helped, we got burned when the backs came out, grabbed a short pass, and ran to daylight. It’s obvious our linebackers are mostly lousy on pass defense. They are slow to recognize their responsibility, and slow to cover. Be aware though, this is one of the toughest responsibilities in defensive football.
After three weeks of pass defense failure, this tells me we need to add a different type of defensive scheme. My suggestion is to have the four down-linemen and the middle linebacker be responsible for the run and pressure on the passer. Then, I’d have four defenders in a zone across the field at ten yards deep, and two deep safeties, one on each side. This way, the defenders can see who’s coming out, read the QB’s eyes, and see the ball in the air. (Please remember, I’m 92% accurate in my play-calling from the stands. I keep my own stats, by the way, so trust me.)
AND NOW WE WAIT TO SEE THE WIDE-OPEN OFFENSES IN OUR CONFERENCE
P.S. – Call me crazy, but I don’t know when in football history and which defensive genius decided to have the pass defenders chase the receiver with their back to the QB. We were always taught to stay behind the receiver until the ball was released, for many obvious advantages. Maybe after all the offensive coordinators got together and agreed to run the same plays, the defensive coordinators met and decided this was a good thing. Wait; I know. It was the officials, so they could call more interference penalties.
Tomorrow: The Lost Letter
Thursday: USF Preview
Friday: USF Game Analysis