The lights went out with 3 minutes, 34 seconds left in Temple’s 27-17 win over host East Carolina but, to borrow a famous Don Meredith phrase, the party was over long before that.
The score was 27-10 at the time but, in reality, it seemed a lot more dominant game by the Owls than that.
It seems like first-year Temple coach Rod Carey has found the formula going forward: Heavy on the run game to open up passing lanes and light on the turnovers.
That’s the lesson of the unfortunate Buffalo loss. The Owls tried to do too much up there and, as a result, had too many turnovers and put their defense in too many bad spots.
When all is said and done, I think ECU will be a better team than Buffalo–it already owns a win over an Old Dominion team that played Virginia Tech pretty even–but that’s not as important as the Owls finding their own familiar identity.
Pound and ground and hit a few important plays in the passing game as a result of the bad guys being so intent on stopping the run. It limits turnovers, but probably doesn’t lead to some of the blowout wins we’ve seen in the past.
That’s a preview of the game plan with teams like Memphis and UCF ahead and probably the only way to win.
Re’Mahn Davis solidified my view that he’s a big-time back. He had a career-high in rushing (157 yards) and he broke more tackles on every drive than Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz has in a seven-year NFL career. He’s got a unique running style that I can’t quite pin down. He’s not as elusive as Heisman Trophy runner-up Paul Palmer nor as fast as state champion sprinter Bernard Pierce but he breaks tackles like no Temple running back I’ve seen recently. Maybe Montel Harris (351 yards, 7 touchdowns in a 2012 win over Army) is the closest comparison I can make.
I made a point out of watching Carey’s face coming off the field and it was the pained look of a guy who lost 27-17 and not won. That’s a good sign. That shows he’s a perfectionist and that’s what Temple football needs in the CEO spot. There were far too many penalties and the Owls are going to have to figure out a better way to keep the rush off Anthony Russo. To me, the best way is putting a fullback in as a lead blocker for Davis and Jager Gardner and also drop back to help in play-action pass protection for Russo. Ask Paul Palmer what helped him nearly get the Heisman and he will tell you fullback Shelley Poole. Wyatt Benson did the same for Pierce and Kenny Harper played that important role for Harris. Nick Sharga’s fullback blocks helped Jahad Thomas, Ryquell Armstead and teammates beat Penn State and win an AAC title. Temple has a long tradition of great fullbacks.
Carey will have to come to that conclusion for himself.
Meanwhile, winning a game in college football is hard enough and winning a game on the road is even harder so it is better to learn those lessons after a win than after a loss.
Prediction Tonight: Cincinnati getting 4.5 against visiting UCF. Bearcats, UCF and Boise State are the leading candidates to get the G5 NY6 slot and the Bearcats have already made one statement for it by beating Marshall, 45-17, on the road. How was that a statement? Boise struggled to beat Marshall, 14-7, at home. UCF was unimpressive in losing to a middling ACC team like Pitt in OT. Bearcats win this outright, 27-21. Last week we were 4-3 against the spread (winning with ECU and Toledo as dogs and SMU and Cincy as favorites but losing on Maryland as a dog and UAB and Wake Forest as favorites. YTD: 17-5 straight up, 13-9 ATS.
Tomorrow: Key Saturday Games