This is Temple TUFF offensive football. Owls need to get back to it.
Since Temple football emerged from the dark ages around the year 2009, there have been some pretty good Homecomings.
Maybe the top one in my memory–and perhaps the best including the crowds of 70K for Notre Dame and Penn State games at Lincoln Financial Field that season–was the 35,711 fans who showed up for a 48-14 win over Tulane in 2015.
That’s because literally no one came from Tulane and the lower bowl of a 70K-seat stadium was filled entirely with Cherry and White fans. Thirty-five thousand and seven hundred eleven exceeds the capacity of many of the AAC stadiums so it was a tremendous crowd. Plus, it was 4,000 more people than attended the previous game, a 30-16 win over Central Florida at LFF on the preceding Saturday night (a much more attractive time for a home game).
That’s what being 6-0 and ranked nationally will do for you.
That is also the situation visiting Cincinnati (6-0, ranked No. 20 in the AP poll) finds itself in when it travels to Lincoln Financial Field (noon) on Saturday for Temple’s Homecoming game.
The numbers indicate that this should be a crowd that slightly exceeds the 30K mark, probably not quite up to the 32K mark for Temple’s home opener this season so it should be a special Homecoming. Every Homecoming is special because it attracts the same kind of softcore fan base that usually attends only Temple home openers. For the last eight Homecomings, for instance, the Homecoming Game drew an average of 7,654 more than the previous home game.
Will this be as special as Tulane?
Only if the Owls emerge with a win and the people in Vegas are counting on it. The line opened at 3.5 points on Monday and moved slightly up to four points on Tuesday and now back to 3.5 again Wednesday. Last week’s Temple line at Navy opened with the Owls as a 4.5-point favorite on a Monday and that moved to 5.5 on Wednesday before eventually settling on seven points by Saturday morning.
The Owls won, 24-17.
If nothing changes, expect Temple to win, 24-20.
Still, the game is played on the field and not in Vegas and Cincinnati has a formidable 12th man.
The Temple offensive coordinator has somehow managed to turn a team with a pretty good line and dynamic players like quarterback Anthony Russo, fullback Rob Ritrovato, tailback Ryquell Armstead, and explosive downfield wide receivers like Ventell Bryant, Isaiah Wright and Branden Mack into the 89th-ranked total offense in the country.
That’s a pretty hard thing to do but when you have a great fullback you never use as a fullback and, by doing so (err, not doing so) you pretty much pull the lynch pin out of this grenade and blow the whole offense up. Run Rock behind Nitro, establish the run, set up the play-action pass and Bryant, Wright and Mack become 10x more effective than they are now.
Also, both Patenaude and head coach Geoff Collins have been quoted as saying the reason they don’t run the ball on first and goal is because of the defense the bad guys are in dictates the Temple play call. That’s ridiculous on face value. From the time Walter Camp invented football, it has been the offenses, not the defenses, who dictate the play call. Do you think Matt Rhule EVER cared what defense Cincy was in the video at the top of this post?
If Temple is truly calling
passing plays on first and
goal based on the alignment
of the defense
across the ball, then the
coaching here is worse than
any of us ever thought and,
for the last two years, many
of us think it is appallingly
bad. An offense with these
players should be ranked
in the top 10 in the country
in total offense, certainly
not ranked No. 89 as it is now
If Temple is truly calling passing plays on first and goal based on the alignment of the defense across the ball, then the coaching here is worse than any of us ever thought and, for the last two years, many of us think it is appallingly bad. An offense with these players should be ranked in the top 10 in the country in total offense, certainly not ranked No. 89 as it is now.
That’s an indictment on the brain trust.
Somewhere in Waco, both Glenn Thomas and Matt Rhule have to be shaking their heads because you know they are laughing at Patenaude’s play-calling and personnel groupings. Knowing how much they love these kids they recruited, there are probably a few tears being shed as well.
We will ever see the Temple football Owl fans have come to know and love? That is an every-down fullback (Nitro) leading the way for an elite tailback (Rock), setting up explosive downfield plays in the play-action passing game to receivers like Bryant, Wright and Mack? Probably not as long as Collins is the enabler to this spread crack addict named Patenaude.
As Temple fans, we can only hope the talent overcomes the coaching or these coaches take a good look at the video at the top of this post and the light bulb finally goes on in their collective heads.
Saturday: How Good is Vegas?