That old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” certainly doesn’t apply to Temple football these days.
Based on one game, Temple football is broke. The evidence certainly was there for all to see in a 31-29 loss to Navy on Saturday night.
We will find out soon if the season is broken tomorrow, though. There’s no team worse in the AAC than USF and, if the Owls can’t beat the Bulls, there’s serious doubt that they can beat anyone else. That game will be played in front of family and friends (about 500) at Lincoln Financial Field and on TV (ESPN+) with the rest of the Owl fans watching from home.
Consider this: USF is coming off a 44-24 home loss to an ECU team that itself was coming off a 20-point loss to Georgia State. Not Georgia or even Georgia Tech, but Georgia State. Even coming off that loss, ECU was able to post its first win over USF since 2014, the year it was ranked No. 19 nationally (and lost to Temple).
Temple certainly went into the season thinking it was better than both ECU and USF but the Navy performance raised some doubts. The Navy game was the second in a row that the Owls underperformed from the standpoint of national perspective. In the bowl game against North Carolina, they entered as a 6.5-point underdog and lost, 55-13. Against Navy, they were anything from a 3-7-point favorite (depending on the day of the week) and lost, 31-29.
National confidence is still there in the Owls as they entered this one as a 10.5-point favorite but, no matter how much talk there is inside the Edberg Olson Complex about pad level, fans know what they saw with their two eyes:
One, the defense couldn’t stop the run;
Two, they couldn’t make the most obvious of two-point conversion calls in the red zone (a lob to a 6-6 wide receiver against a 5-10 corner).
Three, they saw on the film that Navy couldn’t stop a fullback all season but Temple refused to improvise and adjust enough to use one in order to win an important game because, you know, that’s not the way we did things at NIU.
Any one of those adjustments would have probably made Temple 1-0 at this point. Making none of them bordered on coaching malfeasance.
That’s the definition of broken.
Maybe the first part, being overwhelmed physically in the run game, had a lot to do with the second because the scheme to stop that run game was also designed by the same coaching staff that decided on a horrible two-point conversion call.
Whatever, the responsibility for the defeat lies at a well-paid coaching staff that didn’t do its job well enough. Other well-paid coaching staffs, at BYU and Air Force, were able to take similar talent and perform at a higher level against Navy than Temple was.
After the game, that same coaching staff talked more about pad level on the field than the coaching ability off of it.
Right now, as I see it, that’s the broken part. Pad level, schmad level. The braintrust will need to be fixed first. We will find out if they can adjust the head level soon enough.
Late Saturday: Game Analysis