Watching Army march down the field a couple of weeks ago, a thought occurred to me even before the Cadets scored the game-tying touchdown. The defensive players were looking around for someone else to make a play instead of taking that bull by the horns themselves.
Losing is an attitude and it appeared as if Temple adopted that mindset early on in the season, but especially during the UConn game.
John Chaney wrote a great book called “Winning is An Attitude” with Steve Wartenberg about Temple basketball but this Temple football book appears headed for a less happy ending unless the Owls truly embrace the principles that gave them consecutive double-digit-win seasons.
Late in both the Uconn and the Army games, you could see the Owls—especially the defensive players—look around and wonder how their hearts would be broken now.
Instead of grabbing the game by the throat and sacking the quarterback, they allowed a 59-yard draw to a slow-footed Huskie quarterback and gave comfort to a triple option team that was very uncomfortable at throwing the ball by playing a prevent defense.
As Harry S Truman once said, “The buck stops here” and the buck of this losing attitude has to stop at the desk of Temple football CEO.
If Geoff Collins were to write a book about the 2017 Temple football season, its title would be “Losing is An Attitude” and the subtitle might be “How I Turned Temple TUFF Into Temple MUSH in 8 Games.”
Other possible titles might be “Unfulfilled Promises” or “Undelivered Mayhem” because Mayhem–which really is attacking the quarterback relentlessly—would have probably gave Temple wins, not losses, in the last two games.
Basically, this whole attitude was established from the first weeks of Collins’ tenure when he gave the offensive coordinator job to a spread offense guy, Dave Patenaude, who gave only lip service tribute to the Temple style of play which produced consecutive 10-win seasons. You knew this thing was headed south when, in January, Patenaude said he was going to run the tailback behind the fullback but also incorporate spread principles into the offense.
You can’t do both.
At least not effectively, and Patenaude has strayed from what the Temple personnel if best-suited for—run a great tailback behind a great fullback—to the point where the great fullback seldom even plays. The running game always set up explosive downfield plays in the passing game for Temple, making great use of play-action. The spread lends itself to punting on 4th and goal, which is exactly what the Owls did in the Houston game.
Defensively, the pressure on the quarterback we’ve been promised and subsequent backfield fumbles and interceptions returned the other way (Mayhem) has been MIA for eight games, even in the wins.
There are four more games left. It’s up to the CEO, not the OC and the DC, to order that the Temple offensive brand be restored in full and give the home fans at least a hint of the Mayhem he promised nine months ago.
Thursday: Navy Preview