Temple football: Expect a turnaround

Last two games don’t appear on this graphic.

Somewhere on the Walt Whitman bridge around 5:37 p.m. on Sunday, Joe Girardi was banging his head on the steering wheel.

Phillies fire him three games ago and, under the new guy, win all three games against a Los Angeles Angels’ team that came into town with a winning record. Joe probably doesn’t like the perception right now that he was the problem.

Coaching change makes a difference

Now I don’t expect Rob Thomson to be manager of the year, but I do expect him to do much better than the 22-29 Girardi did.

Sometimes a change at the top is necessary and what’s good for the Phillies probably is 10x better for Temple football.

That’s because while the Phillies clubhouse hasn’t been good place to be over 10 games prior to Girardi’s dismissal, the Temple football clubhouse was absolutely toxic by comparison over its last 10 games.

More players left under the last guy than came in and new coach Stan Drayton has not only reversed that trend, but the players coming in have largely been an upgrade over the players leaving and that could not be said of the Owls for the last couple of years.

That’s why in this early-than-should be projection we have the Owls at 6-6 and making a bowl game. Last year we saw enough in February to predict in this space that the Owls would win two games.

They won three.

Large contingent of Temple fans make the game at Navy seem like a home one for the Owls

If the Owls win one more than projected, I will be very happy considering what has happened the last two seasons.

Here’s our game-by-game predictions as of June 6:

Sept 2.–Temple 24, Duke 21 _ Adonicis Sanders reprises his role of a year ago, catching a touchdown pass from Quincy Patterson in the final play of the game to beat Duke. Owls carry Stan Drayton off the field. A quality control coach at Indiana bangs his head against the steering wheel when he hears the final score on the radio.

Owls 1-0

Sept. 10–Temple 62, Lafayette 7 _ Owls do to Leopards what they should have done to Wagner a year ago. They only have to throw five passes all day as they score long touchdown runs on their first four handoffs. Elijah Warner gets in the game in the second half as Patterson rests after the first quarter and Dwan Mathis throws a couple of touchdown passes on the second.

Owls 2-0

Sept. 17–Rutgers 34, Temple 14 _ Owls stay close for three quarters but avoid the mistakes on special teams that allowed last year’s game to get out of hand.

Owls 2-1

Sept. 24–Temple 35, UMass 21–Owls jump out to a 28-7 lead at halftime but are spotty in the second half. “We lost our focus and I got on them about it,” Drayton says afterward.

Owls 3-1

Oct. 1–Memphis 38, Temple 21–Tigers get revenge for losing the last two games in Philadelphia. “When I saw it was a home game, I knew we were going to win it,” Memphis quarterback Sean Henigan said. “Philadelphia is a house of horrors for us.”

Owls 3-2

Oct. 13–UCF 28, Temple 17–Owls put up a good fight but fall late. “Their speed was too much for us,” Drayton said. “I was proud of the way we competed.”

Owls 3-3

Oct. 21–Temple 31, Tulsa 21–Drayton said a big part of the win was showing the team game film of a 44-10 loss a year ago. “I made them watch it every damn day,” he said. “My message to them was that it was an embarrassment to lose to a school that has 3,865 full-time students when we have 39,645 full-time students.” Drayton also credited the Temple students: “Great turnout for the ESPN Friday night game and our kids stood up and cheered on every third down. That made a difference.”

Owls 4-3

Oct. 29–Temple 21, Navy 20–Drayton gives the game ball to defensive line coach Antoine Smith. “Our D-line stopped the fullback and, when you stop the fullback, you make them go sideline to sideline and they don’t have the speed to do that.” Drayton also gave a nod to the Temple fans who made the trip. “The 3:30 start really juiced up our fans,’ he said. “They were quite, shall we say, lubricated when the gates opened and it sounded like a Temple home game.”

Owls 5-3

Nov. 5–Temple 37, USF 20–Temple clinches a bowl bid with three games remaining. “We had this circled for a number of reasons,” Drayton said. “They pushed us off the ball last year for 5-7 yards every play. We weren’t strong enough then. Now we are. We lifted two hours a day, 300-plus days, and our mission was to return the favor and that’s just what we did.” Trey Blair got the Owls off to a good start with by returning the opening kickoff 92 yards for a score. “You won’t see us ever fair catch,” Drayton said. “That’s not Temple TUFF. We make things happen.”

Owls 6-3

Nov. 12–Houston 38, Temple 30–Having clinched a bowl bid, Temple suffers a letdown. “We competed but it wasn’t good enough,” Drayton said. “This program is going to a bowl game. That’s just the first step back to getting this thing to the way you guys are used to seeing it.”

Owls 6-4

Nov. 19–Cincinnati 34, Temple 7–Bearcats wear down the Owls. “They’ve recruited at a whole different level than us for the last four years but those days are over,” Drayton said.

Owls 6-5

Nov. 26–East Carolina 28, Temple 14–In 32-degree temperatures, Owls fall to a team that has beaten them soundly three-straight years. “Fortunately, our next game will be a lot warmer,” Drayton said.

Owls finish the regular season 6-6, doubling their win total of last season.

That qualifies as a turnaround. Not quite the turnaround we all want, but it is one step forward after taking two steps back.

11 thoughts on “Temple football: Expect a turnaround

  1. Mike, Quite a synopsis. The anecdotal notes for each game were terrific. Great thoughts and personal insights. Do not know if you saw the kid on TV at the Phillies game in the 9th, praying for Stott to get a hit for a comeback victory? Then watching Stott’s homer. The charm of that moment is the charm we hope and pray for this fall for our Owls. Like your opening statement, about that guy, you know who, banging his head on the steering wheel, after Temple gets bowl eligible this November? I cannot wait for that moment. I sit here on Monday dreaming for another Bowl trip, but this time WITH our coaching staff and head coach! I know you remember sitting with me and my sweetheart at the previous bowl games, watching our team, getting burned by Duke {and Wake Forest} and guys “yucking it up” on the sidelines. We both felt that there was a lack of leadership and pride. What an unbelievable let down as an Owl. Let’s dream of our young men being focused and taking it to our Bowl opponent, like in New Mexico against Wyoming. { I know that was with Dazz as coach, but they were Al’s players. If they get to 7-5 this fall, and a bowl victory, I would be crying with joy like that kid yesterday as the Phillies enjoyed that walk-off victory. Dreams can come true.

  2. Mike, Just a note. I asked why our uniforms have become “red” instead of “Cherry” last month. It was due to the manufacturer not having the Temple Cherry color available. I hope this staff gets this fixed as well.

  3. I like it! This would obviously be a major turnaround, but I’m feeling good vibes with Coach Drayton and staff. There appears to be sufficient talent on this team to go 6-6 and get a bowl invite. Go Owls!

  4. Mike,

    From what you are predicting, and from what I see as well, it could very well be that the Duke game is the most important on the schedule. A win at Duke really can give the team a chance at 6 wins and a bowl game. How often does a teams season possibly rest one the first game of the season?

    I might add that we know they will win one we don’t expect and lose one they shouldn’t. Those last three games are a tough stretch, but wouldn’t be nice to pull out a win at Houston or East Carolina?

    • Every year they win a game I didn’t expect them to and lose a game I didn’t expect. Even their best team lost as a 14.5 favorite. This year maybe…maybe..they just win those six and steal the Rutgers game. 🙂

  5. Love the optimism. I think 4 wins is a good finish considering the work that needs to be done. Was able to chat with two people around the staff and general consensus is every area of the roster needs upgrade. The word “rebuild” was used often. Good vibes around recruiting and work being done in the portal. Possible a QB from the Sun Belt may come in to add to the competition.

    • If Carey can get three wins, I won’t accept four as an upgrade. He was beyond putrid. Give me at least six.

    • “roster needs an upgrade” is an understatement. In just over six months Drayton has already out-recruited Carey. He has accumulated more talent than Carey did during his entire tenure.

      • Watched as much film as I could on Quincy Patterson over the last two weeks. Kid is a flat-out stud and exudes confidence. Team will rally around him. He’s worth more than one extra win in and of himself.

  6. I look for a 7+ wins season for the OWLS , and starting soon as the days wiz by. Why ?
    Look at our Phillies and see a common factor and that’s when the HC ‘ ain’t ‘ that wonderful or loved or respected, and same was with old TU HC Cary, (RIP). Temple players may well have a new reason to play at a higher level. Several of the same dud players of TU last year will have that extra spring in their steps. Wasn’t that old term DESIRE, part of winning ?
    It’s what I expect.

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