A season that began with the good guys winning 56-12 ended with the bad guys winning 55-13.
Temple made Bucknell look like, well, Bucknell way back in late August and, in late December, North Carolina made Temple look like, well, Bucknell.
It did not have to be this way.
How about fitting an offense
around the skill sets of guys
who were recruited to run another
type of offense? That novel concept
doesn’t seem to have ever occurred
to these guys and that’s one of the
many things that was sad about this
season. If you are a professional
coach, you adjust your schemes to
fit the talents of your players,
not trying to force your players
to fit your schemes
Every single North Carolina game was a lot closer than yesterday, with the exception of Mercer (56-7). Even the thumping of North Carolina State (41-10) that made the Tar Heels bowl eligible was closer.
Where does that leave Temple?
Stuck in neutral and probably not moving forward any time in the foreseeable future. Sure, the Owls should enter next season as one of the AAC favorites but with their top players declaring early every year (Matt Hennessy was the latest and soon will be followed by Quincy Roche), the Owls really cannot move forward to the point where they can beat one of these mediocre Power 5 teams in a bowl. With Hennessy and Roche back, the Owls go in as a prohibitive AAC East favorite next season. That’s not happening.
Now they are just another contender and will be lucky to repeat the two 8-5 seasons they just consecutively finished.
The goal any program should be to improve and the Owls just have not shown one iota of improvement in the last couple of years. Eight and five and eight and five speaks for itself. At least with Golden you saw 1-11, 5-7, 9-4 and 8-4 seasons. Rhule had 2-10, 6-6, 10-4 and 10-3. That’s an improvement. You could see it coming with Al Golden and Matt Rhule but, really, can you see it coming under this staff?
The only thing we saw coming was a loss. This is what we wrote in this space way back on Dec. 13:
The reason is simple. Temple had 63-21 and 45-21 black marks on its resume and UNC had no such black marks.
UNC runs a system that fits its players. Temple does not.
Temple had a “Temple TUFF” brand of football that set it apart from other teams in the “Golden Rhule” Era. Golden believed in great defense, special teams and shortening the game by a running game that opened up the passing game.
That set Temple apart stylistically from every other team in two leagues and made the Owls just as tough to prepare for as, say, Navy is to everybody else.
Now, under the current NIU staff, the Owls run the same style of spread and read/option offense everybody else in college football runs. Incomplete passes stop the clock and, with each stoppage of clock, the bad guys get a lot more possessions with the ball than they would have under Golden or Rhule. Special teams are not even an afterthought; they are a nightmare. Rhule and Golden made certain that the special teams got the head coach the offense and defense did in coordinators and did not treat it as a group effort.
No one here is calling for Rod Carey to be fired–Temple never does that nor does it have the money to–but a little flexibility next year in the organizational structure would be nice. Hiring a proven successful special teams coordinator would be even nicer. A renewed emphasis on a power running game to set up the passing game–and not vice-versa–might be nicest.
The style of offense Temple runs does nothing to help its defense and the Owls, frankly, do not have the personnel to run such an offense. Offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich said something telling when he talked about signing a new quarterback, saying that this quarterback’s skill set is more suited to the type of offense they run.
How about fitting an offense around the skill sets of guys who were recruited to run another type of offense? That novel concept doesn’t seem to have ever occurred to these guys and that’s one of the many things that was sad about this season. If you are a professional coach, you adjust your schemes to fit the talents of your players, not trying to force your players to fit your schemes.
Even sadder is a team like Eastern Michigan–with 1/10th the fanbase, talent and facilities of Temple–was a much more competitive team in a bowl game against a better AAC team (Pitt) than UNC was.
Eastern Michigan has an offense and defense suited to its personnel, not one where a new coach forces his own schemes onto players ill-suited to run them.
In other words, it has a clue. Not so sure we can say the same thing about Temple anymore.
Monday: Season Review