A minority but certainly vocal opinion on social media this season from some Temple fans can simply be broken down into this one sentence:
“We’re not Alabama or LSU and we’re going to have seasons like this and we’re not going to go to a bowl every year.”
There are a couple of flaws in that logic.
One, few championship teams in the short history of the Group of Five returned as much talent as the 2017 Temple Owls. The best fullback in the country (who is seldom used this year) and the best running back on an AAC championship team (not used enough this season) and the best group of receivers in the history of Temple (only lately used) are among that group. Even more returned on the defensive side of the ball.
Two, “we’re” not playing the same schools Alabama or LSU are.
Why can’t “we” be the same type of program as Navy, which has been to 13 bowls in the last 14 years? Why can’t “we” be at least as good as Ohio (not Ohio State, mind you) and be bowl-eligible in the last eight years?
The answer is no reason at all.
When someone asks you what “Temple TUFF” means, show them this …
The jury is still out on Geoff Collins but, if he cleans up the mess of the first nine games over the final three, there will be hope for his future here. Ryquell Armstead had 151 yards against an Army team that shut out Air Force and getting him more involved would be a good place to start. Certainly, getting him involved to close out a 34-13 game is a must that this coaching staff demonstrated it does not understand on Thursday.
Navy, despite the loss to Temple last week, represents being the kind of program that produces the kinds results Owl fans should expect. Bowl every year, playing for a championship every few years. Consistently, Ken Niumatalolo gets the most out of his talent and there is no reason Temple fans cannot demand the same standard. Ohio is the same way under Frank Solich.
If the Owls cannot win at least two of three, this season will be deemed an abysmal failure ruined by a coaching staff not competent enough to leave well enough alone and take the principles that created back-to-back 10-win seasons and, err, run with them. Instead, they are all over the place on their offensive philosophy. One week, Armstead gets 151 against Army and, the next, they refuse to use him to close out a 34-13 lead.
Defensively, the Owls were all they can be for the first three quarters against Navy, then lapsed into the bad habits that caused them to be 3-5 coming into that game. It’s hard to believe that three defensive backs who looked so terrific under a different coaching staff a year ago have lost the ability to cover the pass under this coaching staff. To be all it can be, maybe this defensive coaching staff—specifically head coach Collins—needs to take a look at the pass defense concepts taught by Phil Snow and apply that fix over these next three games. Clearly, “Mayhem” has not allowed the Owls to defend the pass in the fourth quarter of the last two games.
If the Owls be all they can be, they can win the two of three required to make a bowl game with honor.
That’s all the fans ever wanted to begin with.
Thursday: Cincinnati Throwback