Anyone who has watched Houston football the last couple of years knows Clayton Tune is an NFL quarterback biding his time in college football.
Nobody who throws 30 touchdown passes–as Tune did last year–escapes the notice of NFL scouts. Tune has the size (6-3), arm and escapability that the NFL is looking for but he was outplayed in a statistical sense by someone who is going to be a very good college quarterback and might never get a sniff from the NFL.
Yet Saturday’s 43-36 win by Houston over Temple showed the difference between a very good college quarterback and an NFL one. E.J. Warner, whose size will keep him out of the NFL, outdid Tune in every area but the most important one.
Tune almost single-handedly led his team to the win and hit on a clutch touchdown pass that won it with 42 seconds left in regulation.
That was the story from the Houston side.
From Temple one, this game showed that the Owls have a lot of “fine-tuning” to do before the Owls can get the signature win that has escaped them so far in the Stan Drayton Era.
I was confident Temple would cover the 20-point spread (see my exchange with “College Football Picks” above). I wasn’t as confident the Owls could take this across the finish line. I was right both times but would have gladly accepted being half-right if the Owls could have avoided the loss.
After taking a 36-35 lead with 1:22 left in the game, Job One for the defense is to keep everything in front of you. How the Owls let a guy beat their defense by 10 yards for the game-winning touchdown was a real head-scratcher.
Had that guy caught a pass over the middle, broken a couple of tackles, and made his way into the end zone would have been one thing. Letting him get behind the defense cannot happen.
Period, end of story. Can’t happen. Shouldn’t have been allowed to happen.
Drayton called it a “misfit” and we have not heard that word since the run-game defense was torched for 300 yards in the 27-16 loss to Tulsa, It’s not just the kids. It’s the coaches. Some terrible play-calling on a first-and-goal from the Navy 5 cost Temple a win two weeks ago.
Another “coaching misfit” came on Saturday when the Owls, up 7-0 and driving, decided to call a bomb on a 4th-and-2.
You need two lousy stinking yards to move the sticks. That’s a simple pass-and-catch from E.J. Warner to Adonicas Sanders. If the Owls call that, they might go up 14-0 and put themselves in a better position to win than going down 14-7.
Before this, there were a lot of “misfits.” There were at least a couple in other areas at Houston. You can’t fumble a kickoff, which the Owls did. You can’t miss an extra point, which the Owls did. You can’t go for two early in the game, which the Owls did. You can’t do it and expect a win that would send a message to the nation that Temple football is back.
All those things can’t happen going forward and it’s one of the things that Temple is going to have to fine-tune before it can register a signature win.
There are two opportunities left to achieve that goal.
The next one is Cincinnati.
Eliminate the turnovers and the coaching and player “misfits” and that’s just the kind of fine-tuning that will finally put Temple back on the national football map. Cincinnati is good but, like Houston, beatable.
Tune won the last game. Fine-tune and Temple could win the next one.
By Saturday, we should know how far away.
Monday: One Priority