TU-SMU: Losing Is Fundamental

Football is a simple game.

Throw the ball. Run the ball. Catch the ball. Block. Tackle. Be disciplined to the whistle. Cover your man.

They are called fundamentals.

Temple did only one of them right on Saturday in a 45-21 loss to SMU.

Screenshot 2019-10-19 at 7.19.31 PM

The record wearing Cherry and White during the same time frame is 24-7

Quarterback Anthony Russo did all that he could to get the Owls a win but to quote Gabrielle Bundchen-Brady after a rare Super Bowl loss by the New England Patriots, “my husband can’t throw the ball and catch it, too.” After watching the game a second time (fast-forwarding through the drops), Russo would have had at a minimum … minimum, a four-touchdown, 351-yard passing game if just seven of the nine drops were caught.

That should be enough to win in college football.

It was a disappointing loss in a lot of ways for the Owls but certainly their troubles at catching the ball ranked right at the top BECAUSE this was not expected. Sure, the Owls dropped three completions that would have gone for first downs in a loss at Buffalo but the rest of the season they’ve been pretty sure-handed.

Even if it means
tweaking the spread
option by using two
tight ends to block
for tailbacks Davis
and Jager Gardner,
it’s worth it to chew
up clock and bring the
safeties and linebackers
up to the line of
scrimmage and make them
vulnerable to play-action
fakes. That’s what the
Temple TUFF brand
was built upon

They needed to continue that tendency against SMU and, for some reason, they did not. Maybe the Owls failed to pack the stick’em and left it home at the Edberg-Olson facility. Whatever the explanation, their normally dependable hands failed them, particularly early when it could have made a big difference.

Their slow start took them out of a game plan that would have served them a lot better. They should have run the ball behind Re’Mahn Davis to create passing lanes for Russo. That has been Temple’s Modus Operandi for the past few years with a variety of running backs not named Davis and it really needs to be a priority going forward, certainly against a UCF team that, like SMU, can throw the ball and put points on the board in bunches. Even if it means tweaking the spread option by using two tight ends to block for tailbacks Davis and Jager Gardner, it’s worth it to chew up clock and bring the safeties and linebackers up to the line of scrimmage and make them vulnerable to play-action fakes. That’s what the Temple TUFF brand was built upon. “We’re going to run the ball and we’re going to knock you back and there’s nothing you can do to stop us.” Not what it has turned out to be this year: “We’re going to run a read-option with a classic pro passer and hope it works.” SMU did a nice job to stop the run early, but would it have been as nice a job with two tight ends leading the way and a little jet sweep motion thrown in? I’m sold on Rod Carey but he definitely has a blind spot in this area. Maybe some bifocals will help.

The blocking and tackling also were not good nor was the discipline after the whistle, particularly after the game was out of reach and that probably had a lot to do with frustration.

Fundamentals and approaches can be worked on, though, and have little to do with the talent at hand which is good enough to win. It’s already proven to be good enough talent to beat Memphis, which just might be better than SMU.

Winning was fundamental a week ago.

So, too, was losing on Saturday.

How well the Owls address their largely correctable fundamental errors this week will determine if this ends up being a 10- or 6-win season.

Tuesday: Fizzy’s Corner



16 thoughts on “TU-SMU: Losing Is Fundamental

  1. The seven teams in the AAC with winning records are a combined 39-9. All 9 losses have come on the road.

    Beware, Gabriel is better than Buechele. UCF has more explosive plays than SMU. Temple has a choice, control the clock and win it in the 4th qtr, or score more than 45 points.

    Temple hasn’t scored more than 30 points against an FBS opponent all year. UCF averages over 44 points per game.

    Why on earth should Temple snap the ball with more than 5 seconds remaining on the play clock against UCF?

    The right game plan and Temple wins at home. Three and out in 30 seconds means UCF will score over 44 points.

  2. The only thing to say is,,, there’s nothing to say…
    This will start the downslide I fear.
    Also, why do I Think this out bound ship named THE PORTAL will look good to a certain QB we have ?

  3. When the opposition’s receivers are so much faster than our D backs how we defend against them?

      • Totally agree Mike. I couldn’t understand why we didn’t blitz up the middle to get their QB off of his spot. He just stood in the pocket all day.

      • My feeling on pass defense simply is this. If you can’t get to the quarterback with four, try five; if you can’t get to him with five, try six. Keep ramping up the pressure. Hit him enough and he’s looking to save his life rather than looking downfield. Don’t let him sit back there all day with four rushing him.

  4. By rushing the qb a team limits the distance a receiver can run down the field. Get to the qb within 3 seconds the farthest a receiver can get down filed is less than thirty yards. More time more distance. That’s why I am not a fan of the prevent defense. It gives the O and the QB too much time. Second, SMU’s coaches employed good schemes that TU’s coaches weren’t ready for. As soon as TU’s coaches saw that they were looking for 1 on 1 match ups, Tu should have gone to a cover 2 zone to keep everything in front of the safeties. In any event, Memphis showed that they are a very good team. They decimated Tulane. Hope the Owls come out with same resolve and grit next week. Cinncy showed that UCF is not invincible. The season’s not yet lost and if the Owls run the table they will be in the championship game. With a little luck if they do and Memphis beats SMU the championship game will be here. By the way, if a team has real speedsters at receiver, no defense, regardless of how good it is can stop the bomb as PSU showed last night. No one would say that Michigan’s D-backs are slow and yet they were embarrassed three times last night.

  5. While I was hoping the score would stay within a 2-TD loss (or even 10 pts.) a loss is a loss even if by only one point. So, if we’re going to stink it up I hope they got it out of their system. I figure we still have a chance at a 8-9 win season. Going bowling should be in the bag. Winning a bowl, any bowl, is important for the program.
    Russo did his job, the recievers didn’t. Those kind of incompletions when the ball is on the money, should be counted against the recievers not the QB. The run game didn’t produce like it needed to. At least we increased our 20-points a game streak. SMU is really good, but we surely could have made it a closer game without so many faupas. Oh well……

  6. Mike, you answered the question I and many others were thinking: What would’ve been the outcome had those dropped passes been caught? We’ve seen our share of overthrows by Russo with that rifle arm, but pretty much all of his throws yesterday were on the money. And the drop by Wright again on the punt return was the kicker to it all. We can all excuse a drop. Maybe two. But this many?? Inexcusable. Wright seems to have lost his edge this year.

    Now I’m not saying Temple would’ve definitely won that game had the majority of those passes been caught, but obviously we would’ve been more in the game than we were.

    On the flip side, Buechele was phenomenal. Almost every pass was solid. I followed some of that Elite 11 comp back in 2015 since two local boys were in it. Buechele was robbed of the MVP title for that class. From what I recall, his stats led the comp each day. He is a top notch, stellar QB.

    Why we continued to run the ball was frustrating. But I guess when your receivers aren’t doing the catching………

  7. Refreshing freshman from UCF, a teenager who is articulate, Hawaii cool, calm, collected and poised. Temple D will have to really amp it up to rattle this kid:

  8. Tackling was poor. How many first downs did they get after breaking a tackle. SMU tacklers were solid.

    Hard to keep up with the speedy receiver once he got a head of steam. Thank goodness SMU didn’t call more posts for him, especially since the coverage seemingly never changed.

    Without the drops, offense keeps the ball out of their hands for who knows how longer?

  9. I’ve got some concerns about how this team shows up for road games. They haven’t looked as sharp as they do for home games.

  10. How did SMU beat Temple . Simple. Its called the NCAA transfer portal. Sonny Dykes has used it very well, since his arrival at SMU .

    ‘As it happened, SMU signed more of those players than almost anyone. Fifteen to be exact. The Mustangs began the season against Arkansas State with a graduate transfer quarterback (Shane Buechele, Texas) and a graduate transfer corner (Brandon Stephens, UCLA). SMU also drew heavy contributions from an Auburn (Richard McBryde), Arkansas (Chevin Calloway) and Rice (Zach Abercrumbia) transfer.

    Don’t forget SMU’s starting punter (Luke Hogan, West Virginia) and kickoff specialist (Russell Roberts, Middle Tennessee).

    Tally it up, and the Mustangs added five former four-star prospects through the transfer portal. That’s four more four-star prospects than the Mustangs had on their roster for the 2018 season, leading to a jump from 78th to 67th in the 247Sports Team Talent Composite Rankings.


    • Bingo. Teams who sleep on the portal forego the opportunity to improve dramatically overnight.

      Yes, traditional high school recruiting will always be number 1. The portal is now 1A.

      Ohio St, Oklahoma are two of the top teams in the nation via portal QBs.

      Temple has much to offer, especially to local kids who want to come home.

      Makes little sense to wring hands, prolong, and ponder the new reality.

      Adapt and conquer!

      • We got Hand and Monroe, both starters. We really need to get some linebackers and pass rushers next year. Scary to think what would have happened if us, like SMU, got 13 more portal transfers in addition to those two. I’m sure Fran Brown’s got a list of guys.

  11. More talented players on SMU’s team than on Temple’s team. Not matter how much Rod Carey coaches up his players,

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