Fizz: Great win, but still work to be done


Ed Foley has consistently had the Temple special teams near the top of the NCAA stats but was sorely missed on Saturday.

Editor’s Note: Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub is a frequent contributor to this website and former Temple football player and, later, a high school coach. These are his observations on the 20-17 win over Maryland.


Fizzy here at the Boca Raton Bowl.

By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub

In Texas, the sun is shining

In Waco the skies are blue,

But if your name’s Ed Foley

You’re really pissed off too.

Raising my right hand, I would like to forthrightly say I’m thrilled with the win over Maryland. Obviously, the defense was spectacular.  Four goal-line stands are the most I’ve ever seen and against a previously scintillating offense.  Defensive coordinator Jeff Knowles and every defensive coach and player deserve any and all the accolades you can muster.  It was a fantastic performance by very talented guys.


Boomer now kicking for Boston College while Connor Bowler is punting for UNC-Charlotte.

Now, let’s see where we can improve.  Wait, did someone mention special teams?

With the help of the Inquirer’s Mike Jensen, I totaled nine bad plays made by the not so special teams.  Besides the penalties, shanked kicks, bad snaps, missed field goals,  and a blocker running into a bouncing ball, there was some coach’s strategy I need to have explained.  After the bad snap which resulted in a safety, why would you kick-off and not punt where you’d get better hang time?  On some punts by Maryland, why did our receiving team do nothing?  I mean they didn’t try to block the punt nor try to set up a run back; they just stood around.

Now I know it’s Isaiah Wright, but common sense should tell you that when fielding a punt or kickoff on one side of the field, you don’t waste three or four seconds trying to get to the other side to find a lane. All that does is allow the defense to get further down the field.  straight upfield and one block could get the lane he’s looking for.  So before we leave the not so special teams, Coach Carey’s removal of Ed Foley as special team’s coach looks terrible right now.

Now, a few things regarding the offense.  One big negative is the four times Russo tried to throw a hook just over the first down marker, the same receiver never turned around.  How does that happen four times?  Why would you keep going back to that play?

In the first half, Wright would run a late-developing pattern across the middle.  It was open both times, but Russo didn’t make accurate throws.  Why didn’t they go back to that play in the second half?

Despite the fumble in the second half, Gardner looked to be the much stronger runner over Davis.  Why didn’t he get more carries?

On one of our drives down the field in the second quarter, we were chewing up the yardage on the ground, gaining nice chunks almost every play.  Suddenly, there was an incomplete first-down pass and the drive stalled.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

On a few fourth and ones, our play call was a handoff five yards deep against a stacked defense, allowing them penetration.  We have a 6′ 4″ quarterback who weighs around 230 pounds.  Certainly, a quarterback sneak is preferable.

I was surprised to learn from Jensen’s article that our two long bombs for touchdowns were from check-offs at the line of scrimmage by Russo.  Perhaps the coaches should let him call more of the plays.  It’s good, however, he’s allowed the freedom to change the plays.

With 2:25 left in the game and Maryland’s offense in disarray on fourth down, why would we call a time out?  It did turn out rather well though, didn’t it?

All in all, though, the offense is way more efficient than ever before.

So, Defense gets an A+, offense gets a B, and special teams an F.  Thank you Football Gods.  We should be among the top 25 this week.

Thursday: Questions and Answers

Saturday: Game Day


Rest of Season: Brace For Impact

About four hours after the first Temple players appeared in many of the post-game tailgates on Saturday afternoon, an asteroid about the size of the Empire State building missed the earth by “only” 3.3 million miles.

(That’s considered pretty darn close by Asteroid miss standards.)

One of these days we won’t be as lucky and we will be bracing for impact, but that makes appreciating days like yesterday even more important. (Err, hopefully, that day is 100 years or more away.)

Screenshot 2019-09-14 at 10.34.24 PM

Yesterday was a fun day to be on Planet Earth and at Lincoln Financial Field.

Maybe the most fun day.

As Wayne Hardin used to say, the only fun is winning and there was plenty of fun on the Owls’ side of the field.

Temple’s 20-17 win over No. 21 Maryland has to rank in the top three HOME wins in the Lincoln Financial Field Era. No win will ever top the 27-10 win over Penn State in 2015 because the Owls were pushing that rock up a hill for 74 years.

Screenshot 2019-09-14 at 11.02.53 PM

Some observations from a game thread on a Maryland message board

Still, the win over Maryland has to rank right behind it because this was a very good Temple team beating what could be a Big 10 contender. The third biggest LFF win had to be handing another No. 21 team, East Carolina, a loss in 2014 but that Temple team finished a mediocre 6-6.

All signs are pointing to the fact that Temple will be much better than that this season. Consider this: The Maryland team Temple beat had a 42-13 lead at halftime over Syracuse. Last night, No. 1 Clemson could only lead ‘Cuse, 17-6, at a similar juncture.

Every game is a different entity but that’s pretty rarified air.

Temple’s defense really won this game with a big assist from the fans, who were involved and as loud as they needed to be from the coin toss to triple zeros on the clock.

Last week, Maryland had its own win over the No. 21 team in the country, Syracuse, and that catapulted the Terrapins into the Top 25.

Logically, that SHOULD mean that Temple moves into the Top 25 but the same level of logic and fairness that applies to Power 5 teams rarely applies to Group of 5 teams. The Owls will probably have to keep winning into October before getting their own chance.

Their defense should be able to keep them in every game and their offense has enough playmakers to do serious damage. The one area they have to work on is punting and placekicking but, sadly, special teams’ coach extraordinaire Ed Foley is working in Waco now. How nice would it be to have Aaron Boumerhi and Connor Bowler back?

That’s water under a bridge that needs to be repaired now. I fervently hope his plan is not this one:

So the task of fixing that third of the team has fallen on the CEO shoulders of Rod Carey, who is now an impressive 5-2 against Big 10 teams.

Unless he faces one in an NY6 bowl, he won’t get another chance this season so let’s hope he gets another chance. After yesterday, such a prospect doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.

Hell, it appears at least five more incredibly fun-filled home games are left.

Brace for impact and we mean the good kind.

Tuesday: Fizzy’s Corner

Thursday: Questions and Answers

Saturday: Buffalo Game Day



Temple Nation Needs to Show Up

The Temple fans made LFF a house of horrors for Penn State in 2015.

The first time I ever heard the phrase Al Golden uttered it a few years into probably one of the most impressive rebuilding jobs I’ve ever seen:

“Temple Nation needs to show up,” Golden said.

The coach really was four years into the rebuild and the place to show up was Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington, D.C. for the Eagle Bank Bowl in 2009. It was the school’s first bowl in 30 years and it was against a marquee opponent and since one school was 200 miles away and the other 3,000, bowl organizers were counting on a big walk-up from Philadelphia.

If Temple Nation needed to show up then, it certainly needs to show up even more now. Full disclosure: This post wasn’t scheduled to be published until Thursday but we felt this plea was important to make early in the week to set the wheels in motion in the school and in the alumni ranks for a big home crowd against Maryland (noon, Saturday).

I don’t know what the crowd is going to look like but if the Owls got a legitimate 35,004 against Army in 2016 (and they did) and a legitimate 35,786 against Tulane in 2015 (and they did), and a legitimate 33,026 for Cincinnati last year (and they did), they are going to have to move that needle close to the 40,000 range for Maryland.

The stakes are that high.

The Owls–who received two votes in “others under consideration” in the Top 25 coaches preseason poll–can crack the Top 25 with a win over Maryland on Saturday. It’s not all that outrageous that a win puts the Owls there. Last week, Maryland was outside the Top 25 when it beat No. 21 Syracuse. This week, Temple is outside the Top 25 when it hosts No. 21 Maryland.

People have to get up on whatever equates to a soapbox at the Student Activities Center, the Bell Tower, the Olympic Complex or whatever place on campus to get a significant portion of the 40,000 fulltime students to attend on Saturday. A solid representation of the 279,000 alumni–almost 200,000 who live within an hour’s drive of the stadium–have to be accounted for as well.

If it can happen for one school, it can happen for another.

Temple Nation?

I never heard of the concept until two weeks before that Eagle Bank bowl.  Hell, Temple isn’t a state or a city let alone even a nation. Yet whatever Temple Nation was responded to that call when an estimated 20,000 of the 23,000 fans in the old baseball stadium cheered their throats out to see the Owls lose to 30-21 to UCLA.

“There were so many Temple fans here I really hated it,” a UCLA vlogger said afterward.

A year ago, Temple handed both Maryland and Cincinnati their first losses of the season. It didn’t need a home crowd to beat Maryland, but it did need a very loud one to beat Cincinnati.

“I couldn’t hear because of the crowd,” Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ritter said after fumbling a key snap in overtime that allowed the Owls to win.

The Owls will need that crowd again on Saturday and it will have to be loud and involved to help them crack the top 25 this early for the first time ever.

Even if it’s a mid-size nation, it can still make an impact on the college football globe in a few days.

Saturday: Game Day

Owls Know The Way to Beat Maryland

Perhaps no score in college football surprised the so-called experts more than Maryland’s 63-20 win over Syracuse on Saturday.

Sure, Maryland was a 2-point favorite at home against the No. 21-ranked Orange but Hurricane Dorian-type level of devastation was the thing that opened some eyes.

One thing the Terrapins established is they are a quick-strike team with plenty of speed on offense.

While Maryland has revenge
motivation that can’t be
discounted, Carey has all
the cards in his pocket in
terms of strategy. As a head
coach on the FBS level,
Carey is 53-30; as a head
coach on the FBS level,
Maryland coach Mike
Locksley is 5-31

Those three hours gave Temple head coach Rod Carey a pretty good template for devising a game plan to beat the Terrapins.

Like the old Dean Smith four-corners pre-clock era basketball offense of North Carolina, play keep-away.

The way to control a big-strike type team, as Maryland is, is to run the ball, control the clock, bring the safeties and the linebackers up to the line of scrimmage, and hit some key third-down plays in the play-action passing game. Keep the ball for at least eight minutes of each quarter and score some points and that limits the opportunities Maryland has to touch it.

While Maryland has revenge motivation that can’t be discounted, Carey has all the cards in his pocket in terms of strategy. As a head coach on the FBS level, Carey is 53-30; as a head coach on the FBS level, Maryland coach Mike Locksley is 5-31. Plus, the Owls had an extra week to prepare so Carey knows what the deal is. Last year, the Owls put their tight ends in motion as blockers for NFL fifth-round pick Ryquell Armstead, got some turnovers on defense, and came away with a 35-14 win.

All  Locksley has to go by on Temple is a game film that showed a spread offense without a fullback or two tight ends and that’s pretty much what he’s planning to stop.

If Carey came out in two tight ends, and a fullback, pounded the ball behind running backs Jager Gardner and Re’Mahn Davis (with a healthy dose of Isaiah Wright misdirection), that’s something Maryland coaches would definitely not be prepared to face.

Running the ball behind extra blockers was also that strategy that Steve Addazio employed to beat Maryland, 38-7, in 2011:

As a bonus, it is also the best strategy for Temple in that the Owls’ strengths as a team are their offensive line, quarterbacks and linebackers. If Wright is the full-time running back, you could also say that position would be a strength of the team as well.

With Josh Jackson instead of turnover-prone Kasim Hunt at quarterback, this is not the same Maryland team that lost to Temple 35-14 a year ago in College Park, Md.

This isn’t the same Temple team, either.

It’s better-coached than it was a year behind a guy who is 4-2 against the Big 10.

Whether he goes 5-2 will be determined by his willingness to adjust his scheme to exploit the weakness of his opponent.

We will find that out in six days.

Tuesday: Owl Nation

Saturday: Game Day