The beauty of college football is that often a less talented team can beat a more talented team due to brains over brawn.
Take Louisiana’s Group of Five win on Saturday against Power 5 and No. 23-ranked host Iowa State.
The Rajun Cajuns won because of several well-designed plays. Iowa State relied too much on Brock Purdy’s arm and trying to run over the G5 team.
A few well-designed plays can be the difference between evenly matched teams and many more can be the difference in an upset. That was evident not only in Louisiana’s win, but Coastal Carolina’s 35-17 win at Kansas and Arkansas State’s 35-31 win at Kansas State.
There’s no way to convince me that the three winning teams had more talent than the three losing ones so it had to be coaching.
Such was the case on Saturday and such should and could be the case for Temple going forward this season. Under Wayne Hardin–and, to a lesser extent, Bruce Arians–Temple was able to win a lot of games by outsmarting teams.
Hardin used things like the wraparound draw, the halfback pass, the shovel pass (which worked for a touchdown for Coastal Carolina on Saturday) and the tight end to completely fool the opposition.
The times it didn’t work usually came against teams with overwhelming talent but most times it did because the Owls were 80-52-3 under Hardin.
Arians brought his own style of innovation to Temple and the play above where he completely fools Rutgers in 1988 was a perfect example. Arians had the tailback block down, leaving the fullback completely open in the flat for a touchdown. Because fullbacks usually block for tailbacks, and not the opposite way around, Nelson Herrera was left unaccounted for in the flat.
That brings me to Temple football recently which has been more like checkers than chess, a lot more brawn involved than brain. With only slight exceptions, I don’t remember Temple outsmarting many people in recent years. The First Philly Special–a throwback from wide receiver John Christopher to P.J. Walker–worked for a crucial first down in the 2015 Penn State game. The throwback pass to Kenny Yeboah in last year’s game was another and the fake out to Ventell Byrant (that resulted in Yeboah being wide open for six) in the 2018 Maryland game was a third.
Hopefully, the current Temple staff is using this extra time to go over some old innovative plays in the Edberg-Olson archives.
Putting them to work this season could not hurt and probably could help checkmate a few foes.
Of the things we want to see improvement on this year, innovation in the play-calling is near the top of the list.
Friday: 5 Ways This Season Will Be Different