You needed to look no further than down the dial to see the current state of two Group of Five programs on Friday night.
On one ESPN channel at halftime, G5 Old Dominion was taking care of business at ACC power Virginia Tech with a 10-7 lead.
On another ESPN channel at the same time, G5 Temple was floundering like the fish out of water Rod Carey was here in a 24-0 deficit against ACC cellar-dweller Duke.
The Owls lost that game, 30-0, but many of the same problems that existed in a 3-9 season a year ago for this once-proud Temple program surprisingly resurfaced in the first half.
We thought it would be different but it wasn’t and that’s the saddest takeaway from Friday night. Surprisingly, because we were told by the players and the coaching staff that the whole vibe has changed but on the most important day, game night, it was a rerun of a year ago. Lackluster with no energy.
D’Wan Mathis demonstrated–pretty much like he did in a 3-9 season a year ago–that he was not particularly bothered by multiple three-and-outs. That kind of laisse fair attitude spread like a pandemic to the rest of the team–special teams, defense, and offense.
You are only as good as your leaders are and that includes both the quarterback and the head coach.
To me, the first mistake of the Stan Drayton Era was sticking with Mathis after a scoreless first quarter.
I mean, why do you bring in another four-star quarterback like Quincy Patterson to compete with Mathis and settle for multiple three-and-outs in a real game?
If the competition is open in practice, you should be able to lose the job in a game if you don’t turn the scoreboard into an adding machine.
At the end of one quarter and multiple three-and-outs, you bring in Patterson. Send the message both to Mathis and the rest of the squad that failure in any aspect of the game is unacceptable by this new staff.
Maybe he rallies the team around him. Maybe he doesn’t.
But you don’t sit there and get your ass beat because your starter can’t make plays to keep drives alive.
After five-straight three-and-outs near the end of the first half, Drayton went over to Mathis and patted him on the back. I wouldn’t have done that. I wouldn’t have hit him in the head but I would have told him to take a seat and let Quincy see what he could do. (Nick Saban would have hit him in the head.)
The point is that if you give Mathis five three-and-outs, to be fair, you have to give Patterson the same kind of rope. Mathis cannot be the starter forever if he keeps putting up zeros on the board.
You light a fire under him and you light a fire under the rest of the team.
On the other side of the ball, you don’t let the bad guys’ quarterback sit back and pick you apart with a base defense. If you can’t get to him with four, you bring five. If you can’t get to him with five, you bring six. If you can’t get to him with six, you bring seven. Bring the entire team on passing situations. At some point, you have to make him eat dirt and like the taste.
That’s Temple football.
At least it has been in the past.
Maybe it can be in the future but, judging from Drayton’s disappointing debut, that future is a lot farther off than we previously thought.
Sunday: The Compelling Case for Quincy Patterson