Memphis-TU: Can anyone here play defense?

Hold this team to 28 points again and it’s a Temple win.

Temple football came back from the dead with an injection of special teams and defense and a little binder of men written by Al Golden.

Right now, it doesn’t look like the special teams are coming back but maybe the defense will.

Temple has the best all-time record in conference play (since championship play began in 2015) and Memphis can tie with a win on Saturday.

That’s really the only hope 13.5-point underdog Temple has for winning Saturday’s noon showdown (only on ESPN+) at Memphis.

Full disclosure here: I thought going into the season that Temple’s offense was going to be the better of the three units (special teams, defense, offense) and had little hope for the special teams to improve.

Defense, I thought, was going to be a different story. I thought the defense was going to be an almost equal partner in any success the 2020 Owls would have.

So far, I’m wrong but it’s only two games.

Sure, the Owls had to replace their top nine tacklers but they had star quality players returning in tackles Dan Archibong and Ifeanyi Maijeh, linebackers William Kwenkeu and Isaiah Graham-Mobley and safety Amir Tyler along with four solid corners.

One of those corners, Ty Mason, opted out due to COVID-19 concerns on his part but three–Christian Braswell, Linwood Crump Jr. and Freddie Johnson–have plenty of solid starts under their belts.

There’s no way a team with this much talent should have given up 31 and 37 points, respectively. That has to turn around if the Owls are going to have a chance this week.

Maybe they will play up to their potential on Saturday, maybe they won’t. Maybe the first two games were the result of lack of hitting due to City of Philadelphia restrictions. Maybe the fact that the current staff never faced a triple option had to do with Navy’s success.

There’s no excuse, though, for what happened against USF and that’s concerning.

Maybe our expectations for this group are way too high but we should find out by Saturday at 3. Temple has to hold Memphis in the high 20s or low 30s for the win and score in the mid-30s.

I think they have the talent to do it but they have to start putting pressure on the quarterback and force fumbles and interceptions.

The good news is that Memphis doesn’t play any defense, either, so it should be an entertaining game nonetheless.

When Golden got here in 2005, he understood the fastest way of getting Temple from the Bottom 10 to the Top 25 was to build the defense first and then make plays on the special teams. His reasoning was that if you could keep the bad guys off the scoreboard, you could stay in every game and, if you can stay in every game, you can steal a few maybe you shouldn’t.

Stopping the run and getting after the quarterback were the hallmark of Golden’s teams. The binder of men had to do with Golden’s Eastern recruiting contacts developed as an assistant at Boston College, Penn State and Virginia. Golden went out and got physical, tough, defensive players who were mostly captains of championship high school teams.

That leadership developed the culture.

Something has happened in the last couple of years to stray from that culture. Special teams have become suspect and defense has suffered a noticeable decline. There are a lot of good players on defense but they have to play up to their potential.

What we do know is the physical and tough Temple defense we expected to see early in October has to show up now that November is just around the corner.

Or that one win we saw on Saturday might be it.

Late Saturday Night: Game Analysis


26 thoughts on “Memphis-TU: Can anyone here play defense?

  1. I’m having hard time finding a reason to be positive on this game. This is a major test for Carey. I hope he is up to it.

    This is another ESPN+ game. The other games on ESPN+ tomorrow are UTEP at Charlotte and ULM at South Alabama. Is that really the level we are at now?

    All other AAC teams are on an ESPN channel or CBSSN. Cincinnati at SMU is a prime time game.

    I don’t see how this is good for the profile of the program. I don’t see how this helps recruiting. I do see it as an indicator on the state of the program.

    • ESPN is losing money hand over fist and putting games on ESPN+ is their attempt to make some money. TU’s game likely would have been on ESPN online in any event because of better games to broadcast. I’d like to know how many people are signing up for ESPN+ just fr football games.

      • I’ve had it from the jump because I could watch any obscure college football game I wanted for $4.99 a month but I noticed on the message boards a lot of Temple fans are first hearing about it in the last couple of weeks. A guy I went to school with who has a nice job with a big cable company posted on Facebook: “Where’s the Temple game?” last week. I responded on ESPN+. He said: “But that costs money. I’ll just listen to the radio.” That’s an indication of our softcore fan base. Guy goes to one or two home games a year, watches if it’s convenient on TV. John and I are (were) more of an example of the hardcore base.

    • Wish I could offer a counterpoint, Jim. Guys who I thought were real good players on our defense haven’t done a damn thing this year. They are just out there. It’s not good enough to be on the field. Gotta make plays, sacks, force fumbles, tip balls, get interceptions. I thought it would change after the triple option fiasco but it got worse the next week. Fool me once … fool me twice … not being fooled again.(I think a former President said that.)

  2. Tulsa is having no problems with USF, a team Temple had plenty of problems with … not a good sign for tomorrow at noon.

  3. Mike, any opinion in the SMU v Cinci game?

    • Because Cincinnati could only score 28 on a team Temple scored 39 on, I’d have to think SMU will win. This is the least attractive card of games from a betting standpoint but, if I were betting, I’d pick BC over GT, SMU over Cincy, and Navy covering the 14 against Houston (don’t think Houston is going to get enough possessions to win by a big number). Georgia State (a much-better team than people realize) is getting a FG against Troy (which lost to BYU 48-7) and I like Georgia State.

  4. Thanks. Regarding BC v GaTech, Tech probably shattered mentally/physically after Clemson debacle. Maybe for rest of season

  5. Red zone is Owls’ dead zone.

    • Patenaude-level play-calling on the drive with a first and goal at the 10. Run up the middle, followed by a QB draw and then throwing to Mack short of the goal. First play I’m going for Mack in the end zone. Guaranteed I get a TD or a PI to put the ball on the 1.

  6. When Ed Foley left, did Carey replace that coaching position!!!!!! Bad

  7. Shaping up as a woulda, coulda, shoulda game. Hope I’m wrong.

  8. 3rd and 6 and he throws a 2 yard pass.

  9. The dopes did it again. Need 6 and throw it two. Like I said woulda, coulda, shoulda.

  10. You were all over it Mike: Hold Memphis to 28 and TU wins.

  11. I guess we can forget about seeing any Temple “Tuff” football this year. All I’ve seen through 3 games is “Soft & Sloppy”.

  12. It’s a Bobby Wallace redux era.

  13. #18 is a turnover machine. Temple will be great again when the QB owns the team, and is awarded a single digit.

    • Good to hear from kj again. Blue had a fabulous game. Thought Mack was underutilized. Should have gone to him on first play after turnover gave us ball on Memphis 10. Two runs there is stupid.

    • Do you mean #15? I’ve been thinking that it’s strange that the QB is a 3rd year starter yet still hasn’t been voted a single-digit player. Shouldn’t he be the unquestioned leader of the team now that Bradley is gone?

  14. Thinking about the game today I concluded that Carey has a decision to make. He’s trying to run an RPO offense with a pro type drop back QB who cannot run with any skill or ability and also someone who is really not accurate enough to run a pro set offense for a couple of reasons including a lack of time to get his feet set and a recklessness about him. All the teams I watched today that use RPO offenses successfully have QBs that can and do take off three or four times a games and regularly get first downs and TDs. Not Russo though and it’s not his fault that he can’t because he’s not built for it. The decision Carey has to make is whether he should go with a QB with the skills to run the offense he wants to run instead of a QB who does not have the skills to do it. No team and no coach can be successful unless they utilize the skills their players are blessed with to the fullest ability of the players. Carey better realize this soon because not only this season but the rest of his Temple career depends on whether or not he stops trying to put a square peg of a pro set QB into the round hole of an RPO offense.

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