Now for the Bright Side

Maybe it was being spoiled by the two years BGC (Before Geoff Collins).

Maybe it was the six weeks spent in the Top 25 one year, followed by seven weeks in the Top 25 the next.

As I saw it then, Matt Rhule set up GC pretty well for the next two years. The talent level was going to be Top 25 caliber for awhile and the momentum seemed to be there to keep the ball rolling.


The major difference
between the coaching
transitions at UCF and
Temple was that Josh
Heupel did not change
a thing about the
offensive identity
of his team, while
Collins allowed Patenaude
to completely gut an
offensive identity that
worked just as well
for Temple

In the prism I look through, every year Temple should do exactly what those 2015 and 2016 Temple teams did (either compete in or win the AAC championship game). Temple is the only school in its conference playing football in the exact geographic center of 46 percent of the nation’s population and should, in my mind, be able to recruit enough great football players to dominate a league of teams from places like Hartford, Greenville, Tampa, New Orleans, Orlando and Dallas on that fact alone.

Mix in the fact that Temple is a great university–one-sixth of the nation’s professionals are educated here–in the only World Class City (as named by the International Heritage Foundation) in any college football league, either P5 or G5. Stir another tidbit,  that most “regular” students in all surveys prefer a city environment for college to a rural one for their college experience, and Temple is in a most attractive position for recruiting.

Temple should dominate this league.

Something happened in between and, in my mind, it was abandoning the offensive scheme that these players were recruited to excel under (three-down fullback, two tight ends, establish the run and use play-action fakes for explosive plays in the downfield passing game).

birmingham

Birmingham still remains in play as a possible bowl destination for the Owls

It won’t dominate the league this year because its much-ballyhooed defense on Thursday night couldn’t tackle a drunk fat guy stumbling out of a bar at 2 a.m. It won’t because its offense could score only six in the second half after scoring 34 in the first half and the OC seemed more satisfied with the first half than disappointed with the second one (see video at the top of this post and thanks to Bob for supplying it). It would seem to me that scoring more than six points in the second half against the 91st-ranked rushing defense in the nation should not be all that hard, especially with backs like Ryquell Armstead, Jager Gardner, and Tyliek Raynor. Give those guys a caravan of blockers in the form of H-backs, fullbacks and tight ends in motion and it’s a pretty good bet that the Owls don’t have the red zone problems they suffered from in the second half.

Now you say it’s still mathematically possible for the Owls to win the league but too many difficult things need to happen. First, the Owls have to run the table. That’s the minimum. Second, either Navy, Cincy, and/or USF would have to beat UCF.  Central Florida would have to lose twice. (I could see Cincy beating UCF but not USF or Navy.) Cincy could run the table and have the same loss in the AAC East that Temple has and Temple would be playing in the title game, but that’s not happening.

So what is the bright spot?

sharga

The bright spot is simply this: Even IF the Owls had won the AAC, there is probably no way they would represent the G5 in an NY6 bowl and, if you win the league, you should probably go to an NY6. The Owls forfeited that slot with two brutal opening losses where they were outcoached by a team that started 0-4 in an FCS league. Nobody is going to pick a G5 team with an FCS loss for any New Year’s Six bowls.

So what could happen?

A strong argument could be made that Temple could even lose to Houston and win the next two and still be in the same kind of bowl game with a 7-5 record that it would be with an 8-4 one. Hell, Temple could have probably won the league and not received a better bowl with a 9-3 record that it could with a 7-5 one.

That’s the bright side. The league would probably allow the Owls to pick from the either the Military Bowl (where they could play a beatable ACC team like Syracuse or Virginia Tech) or the Birmingham Bowl (where it could play a 6-6 SEC team) and that would probably be the best bowl matchup for Temple since UCLA in 2009.

And probably a lot warmer in Birmingham than Annapolis.

Next year, we can all get back to looking into that tunnel and demanding that the Owls take their first games as seriously as they are taking the last few and play in the same championship games they did in consecutive years before the current staff got here. The major difference between the coaching transitions at UCF and Temple was that Josh Heupel did not change a thing about the offensive identity of his team, while Collins allowed Patenaude to completely gut an offensive identity that worked just as well for Temple.

That’s the Top 25 baton the Matt Rhule staff handed off to the Geoff Collins’ one and, so far, it’s been dropped twice.

How many times do we have to say “maybe next year” for a return to the Top 25?

Wednesday: The Dark Side

Friday: The Houston Side

Sunday: Game Analysis 

21 thoughts on “Now for the Bright Side

  1. Nailed it as usual. Where’s the identity? UCF has a spread identity that works for the speed in that state. Navy has a triple option identity that makes it a hard team to prepare for. There’s a great Matt Rhule quote at the top of this blog that says Temple became a very hard team to prepare for when it went to a fulltime fullback and two tight ends. That’s the Temple identity. This staff wasted the contributions that both Nick Sharga and Rob Ritrovato could have given them. Having Nitro as a tailback is really a joke when he helps the team as a blocking fullback. Sharga proved a three-down fullback could lead Temple to a championship. GC and DP chose to ignore all that and they’ve been stumbling around in a dark room like a guy who can’t find the light switch.

    • the two-point conversion to Jager was a metaphor on the whole season. I never like a 2-point play where you don’t throw the ball 3 yards into the end zone in the first place but, in the second place, Jager should have had at least two blockers in front of him if he was getting the ball short. Instead, they asked him to do it all on his own. It was not a well-designed play in a season of poorly-designed plays.

    • yes that has been the question since MR left. What is the identity? CC says Temple Tuff all the time but he doesn’t know what he is talking about..,

      He has failed in the attempt to re-define what had been established.., by comparison look at UCF, the new coach came in and played the cards he was dealt brilliantly…, imagine where UCF would be if he came in and decided to run the pro-set, or I-formation?

      this staff doesn’t get it…., yes the last two years has been mayhem

      • Yeah, when they advertised Mayhem I wasn’t expecting this kind. Very optimistic when he came in and the optimism went down drastically when he didn’t bring in FBS level coordinators like Golden, Daz and Rhule did. Chart has gone downward since. Both Collins and Patenaude seem like nice guys, though.

    • I’ve been saying the same thing on this blog and everywhere since Collins took over that running a pro set knock you on your rear end offense is as unusual as running the triple option. The prevalence of the read option has caused teams to go to five d-backs, smaller players who cannot stop a power team. BC is finally having success with it because Addazio finally has a serviceable QB. I think TU has a great pro set QB, one much better than BC’s, who with a power running game would be that much more effective because play action would work incredibly well. While PJ was a better runner (before he took a cheap shot to his shoulde during the 2015 PSU game), Russo is a far better passer and with a half-second to a second longer to find a receiver that a fullback or blocking back would give him, he would be unstoppable.

      Patenfraud is clueless as the video shows. Had TU scored 34 in the second half then no one would here be complaining. He scored six. As Herm Edwards said, “You play to win the game. ” Patenfraud seems satisfied with winning the yardage title instead of winning the game. Unbelievable.

  2. There’s a temptation to give the coaching staff some credit for the 700 yards of offense DP talks about in the interview video. But a lot of those drives were continued because of Russo running for big gains when plays broke down. Russo simply had a great game as a leader, a passer and running. Russo’s elevation to starting QB seems to be more accidental than intentional. At the end of last season, I thought this kid was more likely to transfer than return to TU given the situation he was in at that time. By that I mean this coaching staff didn’t seem to think all that highly of him.

  3. What SEC teams think about the Birmingham Bowl.

    • Funny stuff…girl is cute, though

    • Funny stuff…girl is cute, though…
      In other news Collins missed t he teleconference today due to “unforseen circumstances”…rumors on social media are that he’s in Maryland. Why would he be in Maryland on TEMPLE’s dime? I hope it’s recruiting for Temple

      • Hope it’s true. Tired of his shtick-money downs, above the line, no socks, clam diggers on the sideline, the team DJ and the rest of the nonsense. The only line I want to see the team above is the top of the Eastern Conference of the AAC, which it could have been had he followed the tack taken by the UCF coach and left everything in place and hired D-1 coordinators. Collins is stealing money and will compound that felony if Maryland hires him. He and his staff have lost at least seven games over two years. Too bad the school can’t claw back money when his coaching is below the line.

  4. If Collins is interviewing for the Maryland job it could be a blessing in disguise; slide al golden back in here with Russo and if al runs the same offense he did here the last time Temple wins the next 2 aac titles

  5. Why would Maryland or any other school want Collins based on what he’s done here so far? Maybe as a cheerleader, cause he’s certainly good at the rah, rah stuff. Or is there something we’re all missing?

    • Simple answer: Perception. Nobody in Maryland believes that Temple could ever beat them. We know better. They don’t. So they come to the conclusion that Temple must have the second coming of Vince Lombardi as the coach who pulled off this impossible feat and they want some of that knowledge. Pretty much think they are sold on Collins so far. Some might want to wait to see if he can go 7-5 for affirmation but most don’t. Remember, the SMU coach got the Arkansas job–a plum SEC job–after going 6-6. These P5 schools want proven head coaches at the G5 level they can project P5 success without scandals. I think Maryland would offer him tomorrow.

  6. and to someone who said I was crazy for thinking Temple could beat Syracuse, if you look back to what I wrote I said ‘Cuse was “beatable” not that Temple would definitely beat ‘Cuse. Pitt lost to UCF 45-14 and beat ‘Cuse. Temple gave UCF a much better game than Pitt. ‘cuse barely beat UNC, 40-37, a team that got DESTROYED by East Carolina, 41-19. Yes, the same East Carolina that got boat-raced by Temple, 49-6. Does this prove that Temple would definitely beat ‘Cuse? No. Does it prove that ‘Cuse is beatable? Yes. Let’s not get crazy that ‘Cuse is all that better than Temple.

  7. let us pray he takes the OC with him, perhaps we’ll get someone to bring the brand back…, thus was a great hire Mr. Kraft, not!

  8. Don’t really want Collins to go away.
    Just want some one or group to do deep review without prejudice on the Offense: schemes, plans and personnel use.
    I certainly don’t have that skill, but would like to know if the OC does a poor job or another issue at play. Is it possible this is ‘as good as it gets’ for this team ?

    • Collins will go away; it’s just a matter of time so I don’t know if wanting means anything. Yes, the OC does a poor job. Anyone who scores 34 in the second half and can be schemed down to 6 as the result of a halftime chalkboard lesson and have no answers himself on the fly is a very bad coordinator.

  9. We’ve already seen much better offensive coaching recently. Pat’s resistence to change and to continue to force his notions of offense when it’s obvious it isn’t working is the problem – oh yeah, and Collins not doing anything about it.

    Mike, Your assessment about Maryland (maybe) wanting Collins is the only thing that makes sense. Daz moved on after a losing season. Collins had a very mediocre first season but did win a bowl game, as did Daz. So I guess SOME success in a program that is viewed as, how should I put this?, inconsistent is perceived as being successful from the outside looking in. If this happens I just hope Kraft forgets this P5 coordinator stuff and goes after a proven G5 HC from like maybe the MAC this time. Or as you suggested get Golden back even with his faulty game-day coaching. He does everything else reall well. Does Temple have a buy out clause with Collins leaving early or did they screw that up too?

  10. I am not a fan of the OC but you put 40 on the board with over 600 yds of offense should be a W. Can’t pin this one on the offense, The d was a disaster giving up big play after big play. UCF drives on average lasted under 3 minutes and they ended with TDs, not 3 and outs. Let’s point the finger where it belongs for this L.

    • That’s the subject of tomorrow’s post, so you are a bit ahead of me. Apollo made a great comment that you can’t score 34 in one half and then lay a 6-point egg in the second half. Give me 17-20 points in that second half and we have a clear path to the championship now, even with a loss at Houston. Central Florida DC figured out Patenaude at halftime and Patenaude couldn’t think on the fly. Can’t sit on 34 when they have 28.

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