Someone needs to show this film to Geoff Collins
Editor’s Note: Bill Maher takes off the entire month of July. We’re only taking off the first week. In this space, we are filling it with a “best of” TFF. (Not our picks, but readers choice by page views of from 2018 and 2019 posts capped with our most-viewed post of all time on Friday.) This story after the Villanova game had 38,788 unique page views and ranked No. 3 all season in that category.
The routine practice here is not to post about a game until a full day has passed so as not to let emotion get in the way of calm and rational thinking.
It usually works.
Not this time.
No matter how many hours pass, nothing will change what we witnessed on Saturday, an Epic Coaching Fail that will rank with some of the worst days of The Unholy Trinity of Temple head coaches (Jerry Berndt, Ron Dickerson and Bobby Wallace). Don’t blame offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude or defensive Andrew Thacker, either.
This one falls squarely at the sockless feet of Geoff Collins, who is the CEO of this football operation and the buck clearly stops on his desk. He certainly either does not know how to utilize the talents of his best tailback or simply refuses to do so. Rob Ritrovato can pick up where Nick Sharga left off and lead the way for a successful running game, which will be the key to opening everything else up.
Collins hired Patenaude to run an offense ill-suited to the personnel recruited by Matt Rhule, the previous coach. Rhule said that the Owls did not experience the kind of success he envisioned until he went with his instincts, which were power I with a fullback to clear the way for a running back, bring the safeties and linebackers up to the line of scrimmage, and use play-action fakes to pass over their heads. In that kind of offense, Temple wide receivers were so open that quarterback P.J. Walker often had a hard time choosing which one would be on the receiving ends of his passes. In this offense, nobody fears the run and, as a consequence, nobody gets open in the passing lanes.
Clearly, Patenaude stubbornly wants to force this square peg into a round hole and it’s not working nor probably ever will.
This is what we said in our preview two weeks ago:
Yesterday, guess how many opportunities Ryquell Armstead—a downhill back recruited to run behind a fullback—got to run the ball behind a fullback?
As in none.
Instead, Armstead got limited chances in an empty backfield and that’s a recipe for disaster.
Someone—maybe Ed Foley, maybe Adam DiMichele—who understands the meaning of Temple TUFF and how it applies to offensive football, should take the film at the top of this post into Collins’ office this week.
Defensively, this is what we wrote about the Villanova game plan on Aug. 8, meaning roughly that the Owls had one full month (really, nine full months) to get ready for this:
“Villanova is going to throw to the tight end—a lot—and going to try to throw crossing underneath patterns to backs coming out of the backfield” _ TFF, Aug. 8
What did Villanova do?
Throw the ball to the tight end a lot and also gained the majority of its 405 yards total offense on crossing patterns to the running backs.
Then there is the matter of defensive ends or lack of them. That stuck out like a sore thumb when the “above the line” depth chart was released a few days ago. It’s not that the Owls lack defensive ends, it’s just that they have two really good ones—Dan Archibong and Karamo Dioubate—playing on the interior of the line where they are already set with tackles Michael Dogbe and Freddy Booth-Lloyd.
The Owls got pressure from only one end, Quincy Roche, when they could have both Roche and Dioubate meeting at the quarterback on a regular basis. So to get to the quarterback, they had to blitz, which resulted in a game-winning touchdown on 4th and 9.
When you don’t have to blitz, you can move your other defensive resources elsewhere and stop some of that crossing pattern bleeding. Plenty of questions, very few answers, on that backbreaking play. The first is what idiot forced a lefty quarterback to run to his left–and most comfortable–side, when the rush could have been set up to flush him to his right make the more difficult throw across his body? Could that have been none other than The Minister of Mayhem?
If that all of those errors weren’t grievous enough, Collins proved that he was very bad at math.
With Temple up, 17-13, with 6:52 left and a 4th and 2, he went for a field goal that was missed. Forget the fact that it was missed. Remember that, up four, a field goal does you absolutely no good because a Villanova touchdown wins the game either way because it sends a deflated Temple into overtime in a game the Owls knew they frittered away. Conversely, a Temple touchdown there probably wins the game. A FG missed or made does zero good. Simple math. People in the stands were saying that before the kick. If Joe Blow knows it, a guy who is paid $2 million per year to make those decisions should know it, too.
Collins needs to get better in a whole lot of areas but going back to Temple TUFF power football with a fullback and a tailback would be a good place to start. If Patenaude doesn’t like it, he can go back to Coastal Carolina. We hear they like that brand of football there.