No Defense for that loss

IF Temple fans were allowed at Navy, this would have been their reaction.

In the strangest of strange seasons, The Citadel ended its season two hours before Temple started its season.

The Citadel’s season was over about 4 p.m. on Saturday. Temple started its season a couple of hours later. The Citadel’s defense did a much better job against a much better option offense than Temple’s did.

There are no more games left on The Citadel’s 2020 football schedule. There are seven more left on Temple’s 2020 schedule and, from what we saw on Saturday night, that might not be a good thing.

No one knew that the Owls’ season also would end at about 9 p.m. but effectively it did. We will get to why later in this post.

There was no defense for what Temple did in its opener.

Literally and figuratively.

“I should have given you the ball when I won the opening coin toss. I’m sorry.”

Last week against Air Force, Navy’s perennially vaunted running game amassed only 90 yards in a 40-7 loss.

Saturday at Annapolis, the Midshipmen had 251 rushing yards in a 31-29 win. They came in averaging 157.

What happened?

We knew going in that the Temple offense was the better of its three units–offense, defense and special teams. Yet what did the Owls do? They won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.

I’d rather have won the game than won twitter

Putting the Temple offense on the field could have given the Owls a 3-0 or 7-0 lead and deflated what had been a shaken Navy team even more. If your offense is the best part of your team, you’ve got to give your offense the ball if you win the coin toss.

Did that lose the game for them?

No, but it gave Navy some hope and a defense that had four months to prepare for a triple option acted like it had four days. Sure, the Owls lost their top nine tacklers from last season but they returned players like Dan Archibong and Ifeany Meijeh in the middle. Those two guys should not have been as affected by the fullback dive as they were, but they were.

What does this mean for the rest of the season?

If you can’t beat Navy in a down year, you have no chance of winning the AAC and very little chance of a winning season. Forget about winning season, a championship should be every team’s goal coming into a season and that’s not happening because I don’t see Cincy and UCF losing more than one or two games and Temple HAD to win every game it was favored in to even have a chance.

If you can’t gameplan an effective running game against the worst rushing defense in the country, then there is little chance of gameplanning effectively against teams like Cincinnati and UCF.

Temple had the best freshman running back in the nation last year and a steady dose of Ray Davis behind an experienced and talented offensive line might have taken off 10 minutes of the first quarter and given the Owls momentum the rest of the way.

Instead, the opposite happened and Navy had the ball for the first 10 minutes.

If this is the best the Owls can do with four months to prepare, it does not bode well for what will be weekly preparation the rest of a very short year.

That’s why the season is effectively over. Does finishing 4-4 or 3-5 even remotely resemble the Temple football you know and love? Does making no (zero) impact plays on special teams for the second year in a row give you the warm and fuzzies? Were you excited that a squib kick late in the game that gave Navy the ball on the 40 was the best a Temple kicker can do?

I didn’t think so.

Monday: Fizzy’s Corner

Friday: USF Preview


16 thoughts on “No Defense for that loss

  1. Inexcusable. Russo played like a high schooler not a senior. The interception was horrendous and whoever called the 2 point play should be fired. Apart from that the ball had to be thrown into the end zone. I also was screaming when they went for two early in the 4th quarter. That manifested surrender that your defense couldn’t stop them.

    Why are running plays geared to run east-west not north-south against a defense that is outweighed and outmanned? Kickoffs also were horrible. Like Rhule before the Army game Carey wasted his time and did nothing to give his team the best chance to win. I’m wholly disgusted because this game gave me flashbacks to the bad old days.

    • Mack had to get that ball. Russo didn’t call the play so the Carey as the CEO of the organization has to take responsibility. Navy has 6-foot corners and Mack is 6-5. Just lob the ball to him and it’s 31-31 or a pass interference. Also, how does a school that requires a 5-year Military commitment after graduation recruit a kicker good enough to nail a 50-yarder but Temple is not able to recruit a guy who can’t boom every kickoff into the end zone? Two trips to Navy (one against a good UNC team and one against a poor Navy team) and Carey did not have this team prepared on defense. All he had to do was watch the BYU and Air Force film and do what they did, close the A gaps and take away the fullback. That’s not second-guessing. That’s what we wrote in a prior post. Instead, the fullback gets a buck 20. Ridiculous. Also, chasing the point on the prior score by going for the two-point conversion was ill-advised. You chase the points when you HAVE to and the Owls didn’t need the two there. Kick the extra point there, kick it on the final touchdown and it’s a tie ballgame.

      • Do you guys ever think this will change? A midget football coach would have tried something different on the 2 point conversion play. I love all you guys, but the same old stuff never ends with Temple.

  2. I completely agree with you, Mike. No reason for the 2-pt conv at that stage of the game. And how hard is it to focus on shutting down an offense that you KNOW will never throw the ball?? I’m stumped. And I disagree with Belli on Russo (no offense John!) – but aside from his traditional interception, I think this is the best he’s looked. 70% pass completion is pretty darn good, esp when you see the well-thrown ones that were dropped to no fault of his. I just worry that a loss to Navy will mess with their mindset going forward. And I think Carey stinks. Yet another lousy play caller at the helm.

    • Sorry but a QB who throws an interception essentially at the goal line because he didn’t see the underneath man when points are essential did not play a great game. He compounded the problem when he blindly threw the ball to Davis who was as covered as a receiver can be and was outside the end zone and but for a butterfingered Navy defender, the Owls would never have scored at that point because of another almost blind throw by Russo. Russo had enough class to blame himself for the two point play as did Carey who made that horrendous call. Russo’s been around too long for him to make the mistakes he did in this game. All we can hope for is that the mistakes were the result of first game jitters and the Owls will rebound.

      • Obviously Russo was far from flawless, no one will argue that. And his mistakes were glaring, since they were made at the most inopportune times. But his stats were still better than average. I can think of at least 2 solid tosses that were missed by receivers, so those alone could’ve been game changers.

        The Defense lost this game for them far more than the Offense did. They played Navy for Pete’s Sake (not Alabama or Clemson!) and they couldn’t stop the run?? Even though they knew that’s ALL they were going to do?? Unprepared, unadaptable and utterly frustrating.

        Wolff’s right: Carey isn’t a fit here. Kraft was trying to put lipstick on a pig and make them prom queen. Or a tux on a bullfrog and make them prom king. Or a tiara on a tiger and claim them royalty. Whatever. Pick your favorite. Bottom line: Carey stinks.

  3. Not a personal attack on Carey, but as I have stated last year, the guy is not a fit here. He came from a second rate conference, can’t win a bowl game and was embarrassed last year multiple times. This is not a good Navy team. They are down. If you can’t beat Navy this is going to be a bad year. You cannot go down the road w/ Carey any further. It’s going to be a tough year to make a coaching change, but waiting another year is just putting off the inevitable. The fact that you had so much time to prepare for Navy and were unprepared, the fact that you have obviously not fixed your disastrous special teams is a glaring indication of a coach in over his head. Just looking at Carey on the sideline you can see the guy’s body language is not that of a successful coach.

  4. Crap! Where do you start? Temple has too long a history of “helping” other teams, such as breaking school records or, as in yesterdays game, breaking out of slumps to clobber us. Well, as bad as we played, it was still winnable. Right down to the last poor-decision throw by Russo – his receiver was behind the defender and he throws a bullet instead of lobbing it over the defender for the 2-point conversion. Defense: Ironically, TU did ok on the side to side defense but stunk on the straight aheads, up the guts – Navy just pounded it up and down the field. I thought our D-linemen were supposed to be stout!? And there was NO penetration (except at the very end) and Navy hardly had to punt all game long. Offense: We moved the ball quite well and scored easily but “threw” away some opportunities that would have won it. Yes OwlFever, Russo had a good passing day statistically, but was inaccurate and made bad decisions at the most inopportune times. Same ol, same ol. Oh well, it’s going to be a looong season unless Carey pulls something out of his you-know-what! At least that horrible loss to UNC last bowl game doesn’t look quite as bad seeing them in the top-10 yesterday blowing out a #18 team. But Greg Stine, you’re right – the same old stuff with Temple. Crap!

  5. My enthusiasm for Carey diminished as last season moved on and cratered bowl game. I had lower hopes for this season in any recent memory. I had a hunch there would be problems with the Navy game.

    It’s hard for me to have any confidence in him or his staff at this point. The team and the program continue to gravitate away from the Tuff identity of the past decade.

    Perhaps Roche and Yeobah knew more than they were letting on when they made their exit.

    • I couldn’t understand why they left at the time. I’m getting it more and more now. No identity at all on special teams and that used to be a Temple hallmark. IF a defensive coordinator can’t slide the middle to clog the A gaps and stop the fullback, that’s not a great defensive staff. At least Phil Snow learned from the Army game of 2016 to the Navy game of the same year that gap integrity was crucial. He adjusted.

  6. Owls needed a tune up game. 100% correct. Mike nailed it weeks ago. I’m actually pleased that the game was close considering rusty, dusty, and musty players coaches and fans. Blame this 2-pt loss on Philadelphia City Council, Corona, and the Acting AD.

    • Thanks, Dave. Here’s the link to that suggestion. I think if Fran Dunphy would have taken it, the Owls would have been much better prepared for the triple option and won the game they needed to win. They had plenty of time to prepare for a 10/3 game against triple option Citadel. John Belli and I after the first two years of the Matt Rhule regime pleaded for the guy to ditch the spread, go fullback, two tight ends, play-action and that’s exactly what he did. He did none of that in the two years prior and all of it in the two years after. Every week during the 6-6 season, we hammered those points over and over in this space. He had a complete philosophical change and adopted all of those points. Coincidence? I think not. It made Matt $7.4 million but, more importantly, put Temple in consecutive championship games. Here’s the link to Joe Daniel’s treatise on how to stop the triple option (duh, stop the fullback by closing the A gaps and stringing out the option sideline to sideline). Did Temple even TRY to do any of that? No. They left the A gaps wide open and never adjusted. Both BYU and Air Force sold out to stop the fullback and, as a result, held Navy to 3 and 7 points, respectively.

      • Mike. are you still waiting for your Rhule money like I am for giving him the key to his success? LOL.

  7. Not holding my breath, John…. but after every game in the 2014 year, I can remember you posting here “why doesn’t he use the fullback?” … “why four receivers when they can’t get pass protection in that set?” … “why not use two tight ends to jumpstart the run?” … “why not use play-action?” … It just made sense to anyone with a football mind who was around Hardin for so long that was the prescription for success. Rhule did none of the above in 2013 and 2014 and ALL of the above in the two 10-win seasons. Not a coincidence. Just read the Rhule quote at the top right that is linked to a USA Today story.

    • What irked me more than anything was that Rhule continually called quick outs to receivers who weren’t quick and also couldn’t block his first two seasons. It made absolutely no sense and they called that play five-ten times a game.

      I’m currently resigned to to mediocrity because Carey didn’t have enough brains to fill the center guard gaps even though he had three Navy game films where the opposing coaches shut them down doing just that. Unbelievably sad.

  8. Sad game a very sad game. I have little hope for major improvements for this team now. Is coaching going to be an ongoing issue now and forever with this group ? Is it the players, the plays, coaching or just plain old bad luck ?

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