Halfway through: Horseshoes and hand grenades

Another five days to wait for a game and five more days of listening to the nation bash the Temple football Owls.

That seems to be the story of this football season, though.

If Arthur Johnson hired Stan Drayton to be the horseshoes and hand grenades head coach at Temple instead of the football one, real progress would be shown in at least five of the first six games.

Close doesn’t cut and, last week, the proverbial hand grenade blew up right in the Owls’ locker room in a 70-13 loss. Seventy points and 737 yards can’t do much for the team’s confidence moving forward and destroyed any good feelings about the team among whatever remains of the fan base.

Lot K will be taken over by Phillies fans on Friday night and much of the Temple-Tulsa in-game ESPN discussion will focus on what is happening across the street.

That’s what happens when you lose, 70-13.

Close against Rutgers when last year the Owls got beat 61-14 was a step forward, as was holding Duke to a pair of second-half field goals. Beating Massachusetts by about the same score MAC contender Buffalo did was nice but Lafayette got shut out by a Penn Quaker football team that doesn’t even have spring practice so maybe the Leopards should not have been on the schedule.

Some fans like to compare Stan Drayton’s first season to Matt Rhule’s first one, which resulted in two wins but the difference between then and now is Rhule’s team battled UCF down to the wire and UCF beat Baylor in a bowl that season and, in Week 7, Rhule’s team beat Army, 33-14.

It is now Week 7. Time to win.

A 33-14 win over Tulsa would be just what the doctor ordered but this team appears on life support right now.

The so-called national experts nailed the Owls going into the UCF game.

Bud Elliott of CBS Sports’ Cover Three podcast said: “I’m not buying that the Temple defense is any good. They have good numbers in terms of points allowed but look who they did it against: Lafayette, a FCS team; Rutgers, a team that fired its offensive coordinator, UMass, which has trouble scoring against everybody.”

Fellow podcaster Chip Patterson replied: “Did anybody say the Temple defense was any good?”

Danny Kanell, the former Florida State quarterback, said “Temple is unbelievably bad.”

The Youtuber Depressed Ginger said: “There is no salvaging Temple football. They are just so, so bad.”

This is the kind of bleep Temple fans have to listen to and swallow all season long.

And that was all BEFORE the UCF game.

You want to shoot back at those arguments but your team isn’t giving you much ammunition.

When the real season started–the league one–the Owls took two very large steps back. They lost to a Memphis team they scored 39 points on a year ago and, if you thought getting beat by 42 points to UCF last year was bad, getting beat by 57 was much worse.

It’s hard to swallow that Rod Carey did better against two league opponents in a year that got him fired than Stan Drayton did. Drayton upgraded the talent at running back and wide receiver but it doesn’t seem to have made a difference in the only metric that matters.


The only way to change the national perception is by winning but, based on a half-season of results so far, it’s hard to imagine the Owls winning another game.

Are they going to beat Tulsa, a team that hung with Cincy and Ole Miss? They better hope the Tulsa team that shows up at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday night resembles the one that lost at Navy, 53-21. If it does, they have a puncher’s chance.

Maybe Navy is another possibility but that team, unlike Temple, has improved as the season has progressed.

Temple’s coaches and players can change the narrative but the only way to do it is by winning. Being close won’t cut it anymore.

Friday: Tulsa Preview


20 thoughts on “Halfway through: Horseshoes and hand grenades

  1. Winning is the not the point of year zero. I continue to bang on this drum – anyone that saw 6 wins, 7 wins, or bowl game was ignoring the reality of this roster.

    This is a down to the studs rebuild. The best recent equivalent I see is Al Golden’s first season. Not apples to apples, but I had a friend make a good case this is similar to Andy Reid’s first season with the Eagles.

    Recruiting atrophied under Collins and Carey. Carey compounded things by causing an exodus of legit talent through the portal. Can anyone doubt the offense would be better today with Ray Davis or Jadan Blue?

    Drayton laid good groundwork of recruiting and portal acquisition in a fairly short time after his hire. There are some legit AAC-level players on this team. They need more. That will come through recruiting, portal, and coaching and development of the existing roster.

    Life support was the last two seasons of the previous coach. The patient coded. To the opposite, we see signs of life this year. Drayton needed to stop the portal exodus and set a culture for TUFB that can create sustained success. He is doing that in year zero.

    I expected the first half of the season would be rough. We should notice improvement in the second half. Progress will not be linear but the arrows are pointing in a better direction.

  2. I took Temple and the over @ 2.5 wins and I don’t think I’m going to get it. The issue with a rebuild is the difficulty today versus when Al Golden was around. NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) and the transfer portal make it extremely difficult to rebuild if you are a school like Temple. Your best players are going to go where they:
    1. Get paid.
    2. Put themselves in a position to be on a team that has an opportunity to win and maybe play in front of more than 25k people at a FBS school.
    Remember as you are rebuilding any stud on your team is getting recruited into the portal. Believe me, selling why anywhere over Temple is not exactly a tough sell.
    I actually think Drayton is a good football coach, he is just in a situation where the program fell apart the same time that NIL and the transfer portal were beginning to take off. Bad timing. I think TU can beat Navy to get to 3 wins, not a huge accomplishment but all you can hope for is that Drayton and staff can recruit a few kids that are from the area and like playing in front of family and friends. If you get a few good one’s, you have to keep them and hopefully if you are decent, you can begin to pick up a few from other programs. NIL will hurt. The Temple collective “Tuff” is going to have a very hard time competing with the App State, Old Dominion’s, JMU’s of the world, forget about competing with the Rutgers or Maryland’s. I for one hope the Owls can be respectable in a few years, uphill climb.


    • I made the first actual, legal gamble of my life and took the Owls with +2.5 as well. I am confident that there has to be one more win left on the schedule. As bad as this team happens to be, it is always easy to underestimate how bad of shape another program really is.

      The next three games provide Temple with opponents who really stink. Yes, Temple may be worse, but shitty programs consistently drop games they could or should win. Temple will win one, maybe two more games.

  3. The portal should have made it easier, not harder, for Drayton to have a better first season than either Golden or Rhule. Those two guys were stuck with the players they had and Golden was stuck with Bobby Wallace’s JUCOs who brought down the school’s APR. Drayton needed to bring in 20 Power 5 transfers who could have made an impact and really he only brought in a handful. If the talent really needs an upgrade, Drayton better scour the 1,564 players in the portal this offseason and come up with the best FCS running back (a guy at Alcorn) and some explosive guys on offense and playmakers on defense. This ain’t China in 1958 or Bruce Arians in 1983. You don’t need a five-year plan to get relevant. You can do it in five months grabbing players from the portal like Liberty, UAB and Old Dominion are doing it. Drayton’s got to be realizing that now. Wish he would have realized it between December and April. Last year, the G5 programs in Texas benefited from the portal. The foursome of SMU, Houston, UTSA, and Rice brought in 43 transfers with 35 arriving from Power Five Programs (81.3 percent). Those four teams went 36-16 last season. The starting quarterback at Buffalo now is a transfer from Rutgers who was from the Buffalo area. Kyle McCord, a five-star recruit from St. Joe Prep, is third string at Ohio State behind C.J. Stroud. You think he’d rather start at Temple than be third-team at OSU? Probably. That’s one of the many reasons would have been nice to keep Gabe Infante on the staff. He at least had connections to the Catholic League and knew other portal guys looking to come home. What connections does Danny Landsdorf have that can help Temple? Colorado or Nebraska?

  4. There is not much you can say after a 70-13 blowout on national tv! Whatever hope we diehard Owl fans may have had for our team taking a major step towards respectability seems to have been dashed by that embarrassment. We are currently the Rodney Dangerfield of college football. But, most of us have been through thick and thin with this team over many years. The team will suit up for Tulsa on Friday night and hopefully put forth a much better effort. Go Owls!

    • Seriously. I’m getting too old for this shit. We need a quick fix and, with the portal, we can get it. No use in using five years to build a team (or even two) when players leave left and right for other schools. If Drayton is the charismatic recruiter everyone said he was, he can sweet-talk some of these guys into playing for Temple. Very impressed that he got Adonicas Sanders, who is a difference-maker, but the reality is (was?) that he needed to get one Adonicas at WR and guys with similar ability OL (about 3), RB (2 better than the ones he got), and pass rushers (1). By my math, that’s eight Adonicas Sanders’ level players at different positions and we only got one. Had we grabbed eight, we beat Rutgers and don’t get a 70 burger put up on us in Florida. We were 3-9 last year. Gotta get players who take you from three wins to six and I can point out a lot of three-win teams from last year who are doing better than Temple chiefly because they tapped the portal.

  5. Well, we better beat Tulsa or this season is a step back to the bad old days. I hope Drayton steps in and demands some changes in the O-schemes to give Warner a chance to shine for a whole game. Look how he was doing for 1 1/2 quarters against UCF (but I suppose UCF made some adjustments). Anyway, hope the D is back Friday night and the O improves throughout the game.

  6. PS: I saw on the Temple site that there’s 3 new recruits (o-lineman only 285 lbs. and 2 WRs). Any thoughts or evaluations?

    • Having not seen them play, pretty hard to judge if they are any good. Same with the guys who Drayton brought in to play RB. Thought Norwood or Hubbard would have made more of an impact. I like Hubbard more. Wish he would get more touches. It looks like we don’t have a single guy who can turn the corner but I’ll take a state track champion from Arizona as my best shot to do so.

  7. Here’s one relationship the OC helped Temple with: EJ Warner. Safe to say Warner is not here without him.

    The argument about Texas schools picking up players from the portal is a bit flawed. How many of those coaches were entering their first season in the job when they acquired those players? None. It’s clearly easier for coaches that have established their programs to acquire players.

    That’s a better comparison when Drayton enters his second and third seasons. There’s a good comparison out there right now for a coach that won 2 games in his year zero and is doing much better this season. That comparison is more realistic for Drayton next year.

    Six wins is not happening this year. It was never happening. It was never going to happen with the state of what was inherited. Drayton may have taken over the worst opportunity of any head coach in the last hiring cycle. The recruiting sins of the two prior head coaches needed to be accounted for. The culture destruction of the prior head coach had to be repaired.

    There is a chance to get to six next year. The heavy work is being done now.

  8. In other first-year coach news, Jim Mora Jr.–who inarguably inherited a worse roster than Drayton–needs only to beat Umass, Army and New Mexico State to be bowl eligible. He’s doing it with a true freshman quarterback, too, but he brought in 15 portal starters. I can see UConn beating all three of those teams. That’s a UConn team that played Michigan, North Carolina State and Syracuse.

    • Maybe. But the Huskies got hammered by those three teams. Uconn needs to find a conference to join.

      • Temple would have also gotten hammered by all three teams. UConn needs to find a conference but its schedule is tougher than Temple’s this season so Mora deserves a tip of the hat if he beats NMS, Army and UMass. I’m not sure Drayton does yet.

  9. Drayton got nine players currently on the two-deep from the portal. Deravil, Norwood, Patterson, Sanders, Scott, Thomas, Faminu, Morgan, and Stewart. and don’t forget the new FG kicker..,

    Can you imagine where this team would be w/o those nine players?

    Pat Kraft and an Interim AD did not do TUFB any favors by hiring Carey, and not firing him sooner.

    Right now, Temple has arguably the least talented roster in the AAC.

    Reality will change next year with the addition of the six new teams. Before season start, TUFB will ascend to the middle of the conference in 2023. Temple can beat four of those teams right now.

    After another good talent building off-season, the Owls go bowling in 2023.

    SMH about the support the OC is receiving.

    • Yeah, when Drayton took him to the shore to watch the Ocean City quarterback I don’t think his plan was to fire him at the craps table in Atlantic City. This Douglas kid might be better than E.J. (sorry, Kurt).

    • KJ is right on point here as is usual.

      Drayton may have inherited the toughest roster management job of any coach hired last cycle. He has done a nice job to date. He is fixing broken recruiting ties in the 250 mile radius.

      I give the OC a break considering the current situation. High potential freshman QB. Inconsistent OL. Below the line (to borrow a phrase from an old friend) talent at RB. Some talent at receiver but more needed. Mathis getting on the field and getting balls thrown at him tells you what you need to know.

      I get the frustration with running plays for Patterson. You have to try to find yards on the ground somewhere. It would not hurt to let Quincy sling one.

      We will still some ugly in the back half of the season but I think we’re going to see some good to build on as well.

  10. Neuheisel/Childers show on SXM had a factoid that 45% of the players leaving programs and going into the portal do NOT get offers, effectively ending their careers. I can’t make anything of that in so far as talent showing up on N Broad.

  11. More portal competition coming (also known as Owls)
    Kennesaw State is reportedly close to making the jump to FBS as soon as 2023. They are reported to have lined up membership in Conference USA. The Atlanta-area program began playing games in the fall of 2015 as an FCS program. The Owls have won at least 11 games every season from 2017-2021 excluding the Captain Trips season of 2020 in which they were 4-1. However, they are 0-4 against FBS teams..
    Possible portal target?: Wisconsin offensive tackle Logan Brown has been dismissed from the team after striking teammate in practice. The former 2019 5-star recruit struggled to find his way onto the field in his time in Madison. He started three games this season but only due to a rash of injuries that has plagued the Badgers’ OL.

  12. 3 more “possible” wins, including Tulsa. Tulane is quite good, no win there. Altho we were hoping for more, 2 more wins would be a step forward – hope the kids still want to fight, after that UCF debacle.

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