TU-UMASS: Road to relevancy begins here

The next step for the Temple defense: Recover fumbles and take interceptions to the house

Quick, jot down this number: 119.

That’s where Temple football got rated nationally after nearly beating a Big 10 team last week. Moving five lousy stinking spots up the national ladder isn’t going to make anyone outside of Philadelphia notice.

Quick, jot down another number, 20,111.

After 33,297 attended Homecoming, that’s probably the number–give or take 1,000–that Temple will announce after tomorrow’s game against visiting Massachusetts (2 p.m., ESPN+).

The needle after a 16-14 loss to Rutgers hasn’t changed things much. Temple Homecoming fans are usually not football fans, but Temple fans. If Temple had won, they would keep coming back. If Temple had lost, they were gone until next year. That’s what the numbers show based on past history and those numbers never change. Temple lost so it’s tough sledding getting those fans back.

Homecoming fans are not nuanced enough to know there is real improvement in Temple football this season. Regular fans?

Definitely.

Temple could have, probably should have, won, except for a fluke tip interception that went the other way.

The perception to those of us close to the program has changed. Obviously, nationally, Temple football has a long way to go.

Kyle Hunter, one of the nation’s best prognosticators, wrote, “Temple-UMass is the sicko game of the week.”

To many nationally, it is.

Sad, really, how far the program has sunk from an outside perspective thanks to the last guy.

To Temple, though, this game represents the starting point of the road to relevancy.

If Temple wants to make the right turn, it needs to hammer UMass tomorrow and start a winning streak now.

Something on the order of 31-19 would do the trick (49-7 is preferable) and maybe wake a few national people up. Even that won’t move the needle much. To get even a couple thousand of those Homecoming fans back, Temple will need to win at Memphis the next week.

Our picks this week

First things first, though.

The SP+ 2022 computer model has Temple winning 31-19, and has Temple has one of its four best locks of the week. The computer has a 76 percent success rate against the spread. That’s a higher success rate than IBM’s Watson had against Brad Rutter on Jeopardy (72 percent).

I really believe Rutgers would beat Toledo and Toledo hung a 55-10 number on Massachusetts.

Still, UMass fans think they can win and, you know what, the Minutemen definitely can. Put it this way: If freaking Incarnate Word can beat both Nevada and Southern Illinois and Southern Illinois can beat Northwestern, UMass can beat Temple.

If the Owls play on defense like the mad crazed dogs they did against Rutgers, UMass won’t. Rutgers is about 50 points better than UMass. Had D’Wan Mathis not put the ball on the carpet twice, Temple probably could have been 50 points better than Lafayette. Had he not played so poorly in the first half against Duke, that might have been closer. We will never know.

It’s a new beginning now for Temple.

UMass will not come into the Linc with the Owls receiving the same kind of frenzied support from their fans as they did a week ago. So maybe the Owls won’t pummel the Minutemen like they should. The Owls will have to create their own atmosphere by making plays and those of us who are there wearing the Cherry and White will have to pump up the volume.

The blueprint for this trip is clear: Temple must run the ball better than it has in the first three games and its defense must take the ball away.

UMass will try to run and, if the Temple defense plays the way it did a week ago (and in the second half against Duke), it will be forced to do something uncomfortable: Pass. When that happens, Temple defenders must treat that ball like it is theirs.

Temple hasn’t really had a stud running back since Bernard Pierce but it doesn’t need a Pierce this year. It needs a Ryquell Armstead and, in Darvon Hubbard, he has shown that more in real games than any of the other backs. If he or Jakari Norwood is back against UMass, one of those two need to dicate the tempo.

It will be nice to see what D’Wan Mathis can bring to the receiving game and that piece should be available for all to see on Saturday.

It’s too bad the casual fans won’t be there. Some of them will be back if the Owls rip off a modest winning streak that starts here. If it’s an immodest one, all of them will be back.

Picks this week: Went 2-2 last week and, after a 3-2 start against the spread two weeks ago, sit at 5-4 against the spread. We like two underdogs (Duke at Kansas and JMU at App. State) getting a touchdown and Houston’s Rice Owls getting 17.5 against crosstown rival Houston. Also like two favorites, Memphis laying the 12.5 against visiting North Texas State and Eastern Michigan laying the two field goals against visiting Buffalo.

Update: A 2-3 week (missed a push in the Kansas game by a point). Won on JMU and Rice and lost on Memphis, Duke and Eastern Michigan. That puts us at 7-7 for the season.

Sunday: Game Analysis

Monday: Optics

8 thoughts on “TU-UMASS: Road to relevancy begins here

  1. TUFB has come a long way in just a short period of time. Drayton got SEVEN starters via the 2021-2022 signing period: Deravail, Hill, Hollins, Sanders, Stewart, Thomas, and Warner. Plus another 3 on the two deep.

    The dude didn’t wait. He came in, made an assessment, and drove on. Seven new starters from one recruiting/portal class is Mel Tuckerlike. Can Drayton get another 7 starters via next yr’s class?

    My gut tells me ‘the process’ will work.

    • He’s got a good plan. Needed a quarterback and he brought two in to compete with the prior guy and both are ahead of him now. Needed RBs and he brought two in who are better than last year’s holdovers. Needed a good DL coach and he brought in one of the best. Needed to upgrade the strength program and he brought in a couple of Ohio State guys. That is evidence the guy uses his head for more than a hat rack.

  2. I had a chance to watch a recording of the Rutgers game. Impressive effort. I did not expect another 45 point blowout but also did not expect a 2 point loss that could have been a win. The body language of this group is much improved since RC left.

    This week is a good test. Can they establish an offensive identity? Can they run the ball effectively? Can the defense maintain the intensity? I recall criticism when the DC hire was made but his unit is in a better position than I would have expected at this point of the year. Important to get a win here as they will be much tougher to come by after this game.

    KJ has good point on Stan signing a good number of starters. He should get credit for the work he did in the portal. He has done well in improving the talent level. That needs to continue for the next two years to get back to a prominent level.

    Best wishes to Iverson Clement. The prior staff did him wrong. Hope he finds a place to get a fresh start.

    • I hope he finds a place where he can play running back. Had 7 carries for 32 yards in the Cherry and White game. Not a big enough sample. Obviously, Hubbard, Saydee and Norwood were ahead of him.

  3. I am a novice TU fan because my daughter is now a student. I do follow the team without the history of others. I was at the game on Saturday and was impressed with the effort of the team. They seemed all in and likely would have won the game without some of their key injuries. I thought Tre Blair looked the best at running back on Saturday. He always left the play ending forward.

  4. Temple wins nice game today, by at least 13 points in the victory. Our QB will have a clinic day and the RB’s will be able to do something. Defense will again have many stops against UMASS. This is a good final tune-up for the Leage AAC startup next week.

  5. Look for Drayton to replace the OC next year, or sooner. The offense is terrible compared to the Temple defense and the talent level is similar.

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