Going into Saturday, the Temple football team had one job to do.
Win. The. Game.
They didn’t have to look pretty doing it, like they did in a 49-6 win over East Carolina a month ago. They didn’t have to even cover the spread.
They just had to win the game.
It wasn’t pretty and it didn’t cover the spread and the offensive coordinator and his enabler did some more head-scratching things in a head-scratching season, but the defense and Isaiah Wright bailed the Owls out again and Temple won 27-17.
Meanwhile, they lost about 10,000 potential season-ticket holders with heart ailments because if this trend continues into next year, the doctors will write a prescription to watch the home games on television instead.
The main head-scratcher was giving Ryquell Armstead no support in the running game. Last week, the Owls gave Armstead a caravan of blockers in the form of tight ends and H-backs in motion. This time, they fell back into old habits by lining him up in an otherwise empty backfield and asked him to try to beat 11 guys all by himself.
Worse, this is the first time since the Rutgers’ game of 2013 that the Owls went to a shotgun on fourth and less than a yard.
Just like that Rutgers’ game, they did not get the yard on a handoff out of the shotgun. You learn in Geometry 101 that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and there was no reason to line up quarterback Anthony Russo in a shotgun. Armstead following 6-1, 330-pound Freddy Booth-Lloyd was the higher percentage call in that down and distance situation followed by a handoff to Freddy Love himself or even a sneak by your 6-foot-5 quarterback. If you go shotgun with inches to go, at least make a pass part of the option. You are only helping out the defense by running out of a shotgun.
The Sainted Wayne Hardin said that many times. There is a reason why he is in the College Football Hall of Fame and Dave Patenaude is not.
The lowest percentage call is what the Owls went with and that was a deep handoff against an overloaded defense.
That seems to be the new normal for Temple offensive football, though. Figure things out one week, then lapse into old habits the next.
Fortunately, the Owls are going to a bowl and probably will win eight regular-season games but you get the nagging suspicion that this season could have gone much better with a more disciplined and focused offensive approach.
That’s a job for another day, though.
Tuesday: Fizzy’s Corner
Thursday: Opposing Fans
Saturday: The Answer Right Underneath Our Noses