Temple Football: Hope springs eternal

Fall football is the main course, complete with the mashed potatoes, meat and all the sides like tailgating Temple fans have come to know and love.

Spring football is an acquired taste, more like an appetizer than a full meal.

Fans starving for football love both and, for Temple fans, the menu changes starting this morning when the Owls begin a month of drills at the $17 million Edberg Olson Football Complex.

People ask me why I occasionally throw in the price tag of something that started as a significant $7 million investment in 2003 and included a $10 million add-on in 2011.

Simple.

The $10 million addition to the E-O under construction in 2010.

That kind of investment shows the commitment from the top on down at Temple to a winning football program from the Board of Trustees. There are not many current AAC practice facilities better than Temple’s if you include the indoor one at 15th and Montgomery. Add a $200 million commitment to building a football stadium on campus the Temple brass appears all-in on football.

What has happened since the neighbors pushed back three years ago today in a March meeting that was more madness than the NCAA tournament was troubling but the fact that the face of Temple leadership now more reflects the face of the community is a sign that those at the top understand the goals remain unchanged.

Now the football part.

Temple needs to win this year.

You and I and everyone who follows the program know that.

The $17 million (err, $217 million) question is whether the old guy has set things so far back that the new guy can’t make an impact his first year.

That won’t be answered in the next month, but some clues should give an insight into the future.

To me, the biggest key to winning in football is protecting your quarterback and putting the other guy’s quarterback on his ass and Temple did a piss-poor job in both areas last year and, if there is a No. 1 goal of this coaching staff in the next four weeks, it is fixing both.

To me, “simulated pressures” won’t get the second task done but D.J. Eliot deserves a chance to show that philosophy leads to real pressures.

Offensively, the Owls have some talent on the line and should be better able to protect the quarterback if they establish a running game first. Darvon Hubbard and Iverson Clement following an experienced line gives them the chance to do that. Under the last guy, the scheme to run the football behind guys who didn’t have the speed to break a long run was a failed philosophy.

New philosophies will be in place starting today. If there is a real Cherry and White game on April 9 with hitting and long runs, that will be a good sign that Temple TUFF is back.

Light a candle and pray those changes will be obvious once we see a real Cherry and White game for the first time since 2018.

Monday: 5 Newcomers to Watch

We interrupt regular programming for … sadness

Thanks to the great Steve Conjar for this photo.

Sometimes one word so perfectly describes a person you think immediately of one guy when you hear it.

Every time I heard the word raconteur I thought of John Belli.

And I smiled. He was the best raconteur I ever knew or will ever know.

No one fit that definition more than John, at least among the real people I’ve met in my lifetime:

I thought of John this morning and I was incredibly sad when I heard he passed away.

This post today was supposed to be about something much less important so we interrupt this regular programming to talk about something much more important.

The wonderful gift God gave to all of us we call John Belli.

The last I saw him–the morning of the Boston College game–he seemed to be the healthiest of our regular tailgating group. He was in much better shape than almost all of us and his mind was as sharp as always.

For most of the last 20 years, I used to see and talk to John before and after every Temple football game.

That’s why I had to take a step back away from the computer and shake my head. Not ashamed to say a few tears rolled down both my cheeks and had to reach up with my shirt to wipe them away.

This was the last person of my age group I expected to leave us so soon. It does not compute but it goes to show that you never know and should never take any day for granted.

Someday, we will find out why he passed so early but that is so unimportant now.

He was not only a friend who shared the same love for Temple football I had but a frequent poster to this site. He was THE most frequent poster.

The ONLY thing we disagreed about was politics. Football, we were Sympatico. At some point, we both agreed to not mention politics.

John followed me when I talked to Geoff Collins about Nick Sharga at the season-ticket holders party and urged him to watch the film and how Sharga led the Owls to the championship. Collins agreed with me and swore on a stack of bibles to use him more than even Matt did but, in reality, he made Sharga disappear the next season. Probably the difference between 7-6 and 10-3 but that’s on Collins and not me and John.

In the first two years of the Matt Rhule regime, we were both frequent critics of Matt (sorry, Matt) but always thought that Rhule could be a good coach if he ditched the spread and went to a fullback-oriented, play-action offense.

Low and behold, Matt did exactly that in Year Three–using a run game established by the blocking of Nick Sharga and the running of Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstrong to set up a dynamic play-action downfield passing game behind Temple all-time leading quarterback P.J. Walker.

Since Matt told me personally on the day he was hired the only way he followed Temple football the year he was at the Giants was by reading Temple Football Forever, I somehow feel Matt got the message then, too.

“Mike, Matt owes us $7.4 million bucks,” John said.

He was only slightly exaggerating because, without Sharga, Rhule doesn’t get the Baylor job.

After Temple beat Penn State, Belli whispered in Rhule’s ear: “Hey, Matt, see what the fullback can do for you?” Matt nodded and laughed.

Then Rhule leaned over and kissed 90-year-old Wayne Hardin on the cheek and gave him the game ball, telling him, “Coach this is for all the times you came so close to doing what we did today.”

John played for coach Hardin at Temple so we had come full circle.

We had a party in Lot K that night. When the cops came around and tried to kick us out at 9–almost four hours after the game ended–a police captain came by on his motorcycle and said to his underlings: “Let them be. They waited 74 years for this.”

John never got to 74, like most of us do, and that means a lot of great stories only he can tell in the manner only he can tell them will never be heard again.

Those of us who heard his stories and the wonderful way he communicated them will be sad from this day forward. The tailgates will never be the same without him.

Monday: What we had planned for today

American Underdog: We’ve Come Full Circle

Saturday night usually is movie night for me so, being a Temple football fan, I scanned through the new offerings of Amazon Prime and found out I could purchase “American Underdog.”

It was the best $19.95 I’ve ever spent, not quite bringing me as much bang for the buck as the $125 I spent for a bus trip to the AAC championship game of 2016 (that included tickets) but close. Hell, a championship is worth a million, not a mere $125.

With the signing of Elijah Warner less than a week ago by new head coach Stan Drayton, this seemed like a pretty good time to revisit the story of his dad, 2017 NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner.

In the movie, it was funny to hear coaches at several levels call Kurt “Pop” referring to one of the greatest coaches of all time who made two schools (Temple and Stanford) famous for football back in the day. We’ve come full circle now that his kid has “fallen in love” with Temple, whose President played football at Stanford. His winning Super Bowl coach with the Rams was Dick Vermeil, a West Coast guy who fell in love with Philadelphia and still lives a figurative stone’s throw away from Temple.

Vermeil believed in Kurt, a true American Underdog who was bagging groceries at the Iowa equivalent of “The Ac-a-Me” (or Shop-Rite) before the Rams signed him.

Kurt, Elijah and Brenda on signing day.

Evidently, others believe with me. The movie gets a solid 75 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, beating by almost 20 points my second favorite movie of this calendar year “Don’t Look Up” which has quite a few more A-list stars. The 98 percent rating from viewers is off the charts.

It’s easy to see why.

American Underdog was extremely well done and should resonate well here, not just because of the Temple/Warner/Vermeil/Philadelphia angle.

There are so many wired storylines in this family, Philadelphia, and Temple to shut down a Texas power grid.

Something tells me this “Warner Era” at Temple is going to work out. Elijah, like Kurt, experienced his share of rejection along the way, only to be told by other schools he was “their guy” one day who then called that they signed another guy the next day. Drayton said he liked Elijah because he had that same “chip on his shoulder” his dad did after getting rebuffed by the Packers only to prove himself in the Arena Football League and again with the Rams.

In that case, Drayton might be Temple’s Dick Vermeil.

As a big recent fan of thoroughbred horse racing, I’ve long been a believer in bloodlines of champions. The best horse in the business right now is named Flightline, who is the product of the great Tapit. Temple is the one school that has success with bloodlines. Temple NG Joe Klecko’s son, Dan, was Big East defensive MVP at Temple. Jim Bright, a 1950 fullback with the Owls, sired a 1979 Garden State bowl MVP, Mark Bright, also a fullback. Zach Dixon, a terrific 1,000-yard running back with the 1978 Owls, sired future NFL defensive end Raheem Brock.

Now we get to adopt a Northern Iowa son, just like Kurt adopted Brenda’s son, Zach, in the movie. (If the “I pick you” line doesn’t get you in the feels, you don’t have tear ducts.)

Unless the son of John Elway, Dan Marino or even Tom Brady walk through the E-O door, Temple is going to do no better from a gene pool standpoint than Warner.

Not many schools are.

I’ve never seen his mom throw a football but I’ve seen his dad chuck it several thousand times.

If Elijah wings it the way his dad does and both Tapit and Flightline run it, the Owls should be in pretty good shape.

Somewhere up there, the real Pop Warner is looking down and smiling.

Friday: The Case For the Defense

Difference between USF and Temple: Commitment

The proposed new stadium at USF was unveiled to the press last month .

All you have to do to figure out the difference between USF and Temple football is look at the national perception.

USF head coach Jeff Scott was hired a full year and a month AFTER Rod Carey yet Scott is listed as No. 1 on the coaches hot seat site and Carey is nowhere to be found.

The perception there, at least from those who run that site is this: Scott’s seat is warm as hell because USF won’t tolerate a poor season coming off a one-win fall and Temple will.

There’s a lot to that because it’s true.

USF has fired two coaches since Al Golden performed CPR on Temple football and Temple has fired zero coaches. Sure, one of the reasons was that it was successful enough not to need that option, but The Rod Carey Error will provide the first real test to Temple’s commitment for fielding a winning team.

If the team loses to USF, it will be magnified.

Proposed site of new USF stadium. Neighbors live across the street and to the right.

USF displayed its commitment to football last month when the President announced plans to build a new stadium on campus while Temple, having already approved the funding for its own stadium three years ago, allowed no more than 20 or so neighbors to shut down the project.

Temple appears to have thrown up its hands and given up without even trying alternative methods like moving the site from 15th Street or marketing the new stadium the ” North Philly Tribute Center” and telling the community the stadium will be for them 359 days and the university for just six. Temple already has a large area for athletics at Broad and Master and has met no community opposition there. Maybe moving that to 15th and Norris and putting a stadium closer to Center City could satisfy all involved.

South Florida, like Temple, also has on-campus neighbors who objected to getting a stadium done. USF believes the stadium is the greater good and, once built, the community will realize it as well. Unlike USF, Temple allowed a few loud voices to table the project. USF’s interim president said “we’re going to get this done.” Temple’s new president, Dr. Jason Wingard, deflected a similar question when he said the school was committed to its deal with Lincoln Financial Field.

USF plays in a pro stadium, too, but realizes even a crowd of 20 or 30K rattling around a 70K-seat stadium looks horrible. It looks closer to 10 people than 70,000 and, if the perception is your product is not successful, that’s even more important than whether it actually is. USF has come to that conclusion. At one time Temple did, too. That ship has apparently sailed.

The latest evidence of national perception came on Sunday night when the books set USF as a 3.5-point favorite. That despite the fact that USF entered its game on Saturday with only one touchdown pass on the season and Temple, coming into its game at Cincinnati, had the No. 1 pass defense in the country. (A misleading stat because Temple plays a three-man front and often drops eight into coverage, allowing opposing running games to gouge the Owls on the ground.)

What can be done to turn around that perception?

The only thing that solves anything in big-time college sports: Winning. If Temple isn’t favored to beat the only team it defeated in a one-win season last year, just when will it happen?

Not this year. At least not unless Temple rips off a winning streak starting now.

Temple has to beat USF to begin to change minds, then come back and complete the Florida sweep against UCF at Lincoln Financial Field. It should not be that hard.

The fact that few nationally believe it will happen is in and of itself a big problem for Temple.

Friday: USF Preview

New Beginnings: Recruiting

National high school coach of the year Gabe Infante would be my first choice to replace Rod Carey should the wheels fall off this year.

Maybe after nearly three years of banging his head against a wall Rod Carey has figured out a way to succeed at Temple.

Better late than never.

For MOST of the first two years, he relied primarily on his Midwest recruiting connections.

Some nice players out there but, when they get to 10th and Diamond, there has been a history of culture shock.

Not every intersection is for everybody.

The good news is that there are literally thousands of urban kids–good players from good families–who are not only used to the urban environment but prefer it.

The Owls have an established gem on the Pennsylvania side of the river in Gabe Infante. Great head coach with multiple state championships under his belt and the kids love him.

Now they have Preston Brown.

Lose one Camden Brown (Fran), gain another.

Two-time South Jersey state champion Preston Brown (holding trophy) would be my second choice to replace Carey. If Carey goes 10-2 this year, I vote for Carey to remain at Temple.

I would argue Carey got the better Brown.

Hear me out here.

The Brown who went to Rutgers was never a head coach and never won squat as a head coach.

The Brown who Temple hired this week not only won one but multiple New Jersey championships as a head coach at Woodrow Wilson.

The kids love the Temple Brown as much and maybe more than the Rutgers Brown (no relation).

Plus, Carey has now surrounded himself with legendary state championship high school coaches in the very fertile recruiting ground (Southeast Pennsylvania and South Jersey) any Temple head coach must dominate. There are more FBS players in the fourth-largest market in the country than there are in 10 of the next 35 markets.

Temple should have a huge advantage over the Cincys, Memphises and Tulsas and at least rival the UCF/USF Orlando-Tampa market. No Temple fan has been harder on Carey than me but, if anything, I’m objective.

There is no reason (none) that Temple should not compete for the AAC title every season.

The fact that Carey doesn’t feel threatened by the existence of Brown and Infante so close to his office speaks volumes for Carey’s confidence in himself and that he can do the job here.

Since I’m much more a fan of 10-2 than I am of 2-10, I hope Carey’s faith in these two great men pays off sooner than later.

Time is running out for Carey, but it is definitely on the side of Gabe and Preston. The fact that Carey doesn’t feel threatened by either guy makes me respect Rod more today than I did yesterday. Rod, I hope to hell that you succeed because 2020 reminded me more than anything that I hate losing more than I love winning.

Monday: WWGCD?

Temple’s near national title miss

Musing about how rigged college football has become in this space last week makes you appreciate how fair it once was.

One such year was 1979.

Only two teams finished unbeaten that season, eventual national champion Alabama (12-0) and runnerup USC (11-0-1). Pitt was 11-1.

Had Wayne won another wrestling match with Paterno at Beaver Stadium and found two more points in a 10-9 loss to Pitt, the Owls would have probably played Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and maybe won the national title.

Temple, with any luck, could have played Alabama, maybe beat them, in the Sugar Bowl and hoisted that national title trophy instead of the Crimson Tide.

The Owls played a much-tougher schedule then, lost to Pitt only by one and led Penn State by a point at halftime before inexplicably going away from a run game that worked in the first half to a passing game that didn’t in the second half of an eventual 22-7 loss. The crowd at Beaver Stadium that day was the largest ever to watch a Penn State game to that point. (They would eventually expand the field from 82,986 to 100K plus shortly after that.)

Even to this day, a couple of the offensive linemen who played for Temple that day told them Penn State defenders came up to them and said, “Why did you guys stop running the ball?”

Water under the dam now but, if the Owls had scrounged up 17 more points they would have finished unbeaten and untied.

A couple of interesting scores that year indicate the Owls would have been more than competitive against the Tide had a game materialized.

Tennessee, a team that lost to Rutgers, 13-7, that year, gave Bama a relatively competitive game in a 27-17 loss. Temple smoked that same Rutgers team, 41-20, on the road.  Temple beat California, 28-17, by a greater score than that USC did (24-14).

You can take comparative scores with a grain of salt, but those scores indicate Temple’s 1979 team had nothing to fear from anyone.

Only the 1934 squad could put up an argument that it was better than the 1979 team but I will take the 1979 team all day long. First, the 1934 Sugar Bowl team lost. The 1979 bowl team won. Back then, everybody was Power 5 and Temple was in the elite of that group.

finalpoll

The 1979 Owls captained by Mark Bright and Steve Conjar not only beat every team they were favored to beat but pulled a couple of upsets in a big way. They were not favored to beat Syracuse–with future NFLers’ Art Monk, Joe Morris, and Bill Hurley–but they destroyed the Orange, 49-17. They were not favored to win the Garden State Bowl but beat California, 28-17.

Consider that: TEMPLE winning a National Championship in football. It was thisclose …

Those were the days in college football when there were no participation trophies. You had to be really good and not just one of the best 80 teams to earn a bowl bid. Only 30 teams were extended bowl invitations.

There are now 40 bowl games. In 1979, there were only 15. Temple won one of them. The Owls finished ranked No. 17 in both polls (then, UPI and AP).

Screenshot 2019-10-11 at 1.20.42 PM
That’s it. The entire list of bowl games in 1979

On a cold January afternoon in 2021, the mere thought of that 1979 team is a warm one. It might be as close as Temple ever gets to playing on an even field in this sport again.

TU Fans: Enjoy the win

In the waning days of Andy Reid’s tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, his team did not look good.

Mostly losses, and even the wins were sloppy.

After the unimpressive wins, Reid would walk into the press room and brush off legitimate questions with one phrase: “Enjoy the win, fellas.”

That’s pretty much the message to Temple fans today.

This is what Temple has looked like on special teams

Enjoy the win because this might be the last one of this strange season.

It’s not hyperbole.

I can’t find a single team remaining on the Temple schedule as bad as USF was and is but the Owls had to struggle mightily to beat the Bulls, 39-37. In fact, they needed the USF quarterback, Jordan McLeod, to inexplicably put the ball on the carpet for a scoop and score that pretty much gave Temple a gift win.

I had to laugh at a few of the exchanges I saw on social media Saturday. After the game, former Owl Barry Jenkins correctly noted these Owls were “soft on defense” and “couldn’t stop the run.”

To that, a familiar face on the sidelines for the last couple of decades responded: “Adam (Klein) was hurt. We’ll be fine.”

My response: “He was talking about the defense. There was nothing about the defense that spelled fine unless you are talking about Larry Fine of The Three Stooges.”

If the defense was the only problem, that would be one thing. Defense is only one-third of the team. Offense is another third and special teams is a third.

That was the Al Golden Mantra. Defense one third, Offense one third, special teams one third. The way Rod Carey has prioritized special teams since his arrival has made it abundantly clear that he considers special teams 1/10th of the team, defense nearly one half and offense nearly one half.

That’s a losing football mentality.

The sad thing was that he had the best special teams coach in the country, Ed Foley, and let him slip through his fingers. If there was anyone who was a Temple lifer it was Foley. Coaches from Al Golden to Steve Addazio to Matt Rhule to Geoff Collins were smart enough to give the keys to the special teams car to Foley and know that he would not wreck it. Foley had that thing shiny and clean and purring like a kitten and he changed the oil and filter every 3,000 miles.

Since Carey let Foley go because he “wanted to get an extra defensive coach on the field” the Owls have looked like the Keystone Cops on special teams. They can’t block kicks (they used to routinely lead the country in that department), they can’t return kicks, they can’t cover kicks, and they can’t even kick it into the damn end zone. They even have a hard time recovering onsides’ kicks. Anthony Russo doesn’t even hold on field goals any more and defenses consequently don’t even have to account for a possible fake, which makes it much easier to block field goals.

Other than that, they are doing great on special teams.

Yet, for some reason, Carey thought getting an extra defensive coach on the field was a higher priority.

How did that extra defensive coach work out against USF on Saturday? He probably had a lot to do with USF, a team that was shut out by Notre Dame, scoring 37 points.

Not good.

Enjoy the win, though, fellas. It might be the last one because two-thirds of the team looks remarkably like all thirds of The Three Stooges.

Monday: Fizzy’s Corner

Fizzy: We’ve Come a long way, baby

Editor’s Note: Great job by Fizzy here. Made only one edit to change the name of Memphis running back Daniel Tyce to Kenny Gainwell.

By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub

Late in the first quarter, I stood and slowly looked around the stadium at the sea of over thirty thousand people wearing cherry and white.  Finally, I thought, we got a perfect day for homecoming and just look at the crowd.  Then, I sort of merged the vision of the acres of cars and people happily tailgating in the vast open spaces in the parking lot and laughed to think the school had considered trying to shoe-horn a small stadium with no parking into North Philadelphia.  We were playing a ranked opponent, but our guys looked to be more than an even match on the field.  Wow!  If you couldn’t step back and smell the roses on this perfect Saturday in the fall, well, maybe you needed help.

weinraub

Then I flashed back to a mere sixty years ago, 1959 to be exact, and we were getting ready to play Bucknell.  We were scrimmaging under the lights in the old Temple stadium when I tore up my knee.  The scrimmage couldn’t continue because I had been the twenty-second guy, and we didn’t have any more players.  On the field in front of me, on Saturday, however, there were about seventy guys dressed for the game and a host of others standing by.  We’ve come a long way baby!

Oh, I almost forgot.  Let’s talk about the Memphis game.  The wisp of nostalgia has blown away.

Screenshot 2019-10-14 at 9.08.27 PM

First, I want to congratulate the defense.  Each week, they stop the opponent on third and/or fourth and short, and each week a different hero emerges.  This week, it was Harrison Hand who was simply outstanding, supported by lots of other guys. Why would any coach playing Temple try to get a first down by going with a straight, up-the-gut handoff?  On the downside, there were lots of missed tackles vs. outstanding Memphis running back Daniel Tyce, and some miscommunications which left Memphis receivers wide open in key situations.


“Then I flashed back
to a mere sixty years
ago, 1959 to be exact,
and we were getting
ready to play Bucknell.
We were scrimmaging under
the lights in the old Temple
stadium when I tore up my knee.
The scrimmage couldn’t continue
because I had been
the twenty-second guy, and we
didn’t have any more players”
_ Fizzy Weinraub
 

Correspondingly, why would Temple go straight ahead with Davis, in a fourth and short situation?  Alternatives are a QB sneak with a 6-foot-4, 235-pound man:   A fake dive quick slant, a fake handoff, and pitch to the outside or inside reverse, etc. etc.  How about a hard count and then a play if it didn’t work.  C’mon coach Uremovich, open up the playbook in those situations.  However, Uremovich’s call for a pitch right – throwback left to QB Centeio, was a thing of beauty.  Centeio though, took his eye off the underthrown ball which resulted in a bobble and then a strip.  Also, we did a lot more pitches to the outside, some were sort of a half-reverse, and we saw Centeio playing some wide receiver which adds another offensive threat.

Next,  should it be two, or not be two, that is the question.  (See, I went to that English Lit class.)  After Temple scored its last touchdown, they were up eight points.  If Temple kicked the extra point, it would be nine points.  If they were successful going for two, they’d be up 10 points. If not, they’d still be up eight.

Throughout the last quarter, I thought we were going to lose the game by one point.  Memphis has an outstanding field goal kicker, and I didn’t think it was possible we’d keep him out of range.  There were two times this year when we needlessly went for two (my opinion), and this time we didn’t.

I would have gone for two, to make it a 10-point spread.  If we didn’t make it, Memphis would still have to make a successful two-point conversion to tie, after a TD.  What I’m trying to say is a Memphis TD and field goal could only tie us, not beat us.

As it turned out, the UNCATCH saved the day.  When I got home, I played the UNCATCH back ten times.  I thought the view from the backside showed a lack of control and the point of the ball forcing a bounce up and to the right.  So I thought the call was correct, but it could have gone either way.  This time we lucked out.  Remember back when Al was coaching and we scored a winning TD against Connecticut in the back of the end zone. The catch was disallowed because the replay didn’t show the receiver’s foot coming down.  Gee, lucky we were still playing at the Linc and had all those NFL cameras.

Now, after the UNCATCH, I thought our play calling was chicken shit.  We just ran straight ahead and tried to run the clock.  All we need was one first down to seal the game, but Memphis used their timeouts to force a punt.  This was the time when we needed an imaginative, but safe play to close out the game.  Memphis only needed to get to kick from our 45, to have a chance for the winning field goal.

Last, let’s talk about QB Anthony Russo.  I was asked before the game for a prediction.  I said if Russo has a great game. we’ll win.  Well, Russo had a good game, but he still missed two guys open for TD’s.  He has a terrific arm but I’m still waiting for that great game.   Also, I think bringing in Todd Centeio is a great changeup.  But I still ask the question why Russo can’t run sneaks, keepers and bootlegs.  There were times he could have scored using a walker.

Thursday: Reasons For Optimism Against SMU

Friday: Game Day Minus-1

Temple-Buffalo: Humble Pie

Screenshot 2019-09-21 at 9.44.40 PM

As far as desserts go, Pumpin Pie for some reason has always been my favorite followed closely by Boston Cream Pie and Lemon Meringue Pie.

Humble Pie, not so much.

Temple got a sour taste of that on Saturday in a 38-22 loss at Buffalo.

College football is a funny (odd) not funny (hilarious) game sometimes and Saturday was one of those times.

When Sam Franklin scooped up an apparent fumble to put Temple supposedly up 14-0, I was a pretty happy camper. Then the replay came and (rightly) the Buffalo runner was ruled down by no more than an inch.

Game of not inches, but maybe an inch.

That’s how fast a college football game can change.

Did Temple need a taste of humble pie?

humble

No.

Does it kill the Owls’ season?

Also no.

Saturday proved that Buffalo after leading Penn State at halftime can go on the road and get clocked by Liberty, 35-17. It also proved that Temple can beat Maryland at home and lose to Buffalo on the road.

The road is a pretty dangerous place and that’s probably why I don’t spend a fortune following my beloved Owls there.

What the hell does this all mean?

I think–and I feel confident in saying this–that Maryland will end up being a better team than Buffalo when all is said and done.

I also think that Temple will be a better team than the one that lost to Buffalo and that the Owls will take care of business against Georgia Tech.

Beyond that, who the hell knows anymore?

Rod Carey was 5-0 against Buffalo with a fraction of the talent he had at his disposal yesterday so this loss really does not compute. 

The Owls got a little full of themselves this week with all the praise they received and were served a heaping hot helping of humble pie.

Plenty of things to fix starting with the special teams. Yeah, I know punter Adam Barry got two bad snaps but at some point, you’ve got to be athletic enough to pick up a bouncing ball and make one step and kick the damn thing away. Barry hasn’t quite shown that yet. Is he the Steve Sax of Temple–a second baseman who had such a mental issue that he couldn’t throw to first–that’s yet to be seen. Yet he’s shown a lot of signs that Connor Bowler did not last year. Bowler had five-count them five–50-yard-plus punts in a 49-6 win over East Carolina yet Rod Carey felt he wasn’t good enough to continue as the punter for Temple University.

Having watched the great Casey Murphy punt for Temple, I remember him picking up every single bad snap and getting off a great kick. Murphy messaged me yesterday during the game that he always practiced bad snaps. Maybe Barry should do the same.

The run defense that looked so great against Maryland looked so bad against Buffalo I do not know what to think.

All I know is that I never felt Temple was going to go unbeaten but, if there was going to be a loss, this was the place to do it–a nonleague game that left all of the current goals on the table (with perhaps the exception of an NY6 game).

Those goals are still right on the table and could make for a delicious meal. Just skip the dessert, please.

Tuesday: Fizz’s Thoughts on Buffalo

 

Behind Enemy Lines: A conversation with Bull Run

Stadium

A good panorama look at 29,016-seat Buffalo Stadium. Even though the North Campus is located in the residential suburb of Amherst, the neighbors supported building it in 1992.

This is a real Throwback Thursday post, back to the days when the Temple Owls were a member of the Mid-American Conference

My favorite of the competing MAC blogs back when Temple Football Forever was a member of that conference was Buffalo’s Bull Run.

It still is and its platform is SB Nation.

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We had a running and friendly exchange with Bull Run back then and we’re resuming it now in advance of Saturday’s 3:30 game (ESPNU) in Amherst, N.Y. Buffalo’s home stadium is located on the North Campus, which is a little like Temple putting its home stadium on the Owls’ North Campus (Ambler).

The driving engine behind that blog Tim Riordan, which is the same name of a former great Temple (and Philadelphia Stars of the USFL) quarterback. They are not related other than they were and are very good at what they do.

Bull Run mixes in coverage of the Bulls with some occasional humor that always makes it a fun read.

We threw these five questions out to Tim and he was kind enough to answer them:

How was the fan atmosphere at Liberty and was there any audible cursing in the stands at the right-wing religious institution?

 I was not at the game, sadly, but for a team which had been beaten as thoroughly through two games as the flames were the atmosphere seemed rather impressive. I”m going to guess that the honor code there probably kept the cursing to a minimum.

Temple’s attempts to build an on-campus stadium have been seemingly blocked by no more than 20 neighbors. With the Buffalo Stadium located in a residential area, did the neighbors try to stop it when it was built many years ago?

 

Well, UB’s stadium is on Campus and was built originally to help host the 1992 World University Games. It’s one of the reasons that the layout is so bad in the stadium, it was built for track and field. 
Other than the QB and TE, who were the key losses for the Bulls last season?

 

 Where to start? UB only returned seven or eight starters this season. In addition to Tyree and Mabry, we lost three receivers, two linebackers, three defensive backs, and an all-MAC center. Basically, offensive guards and tackles are the returning units.
It will be almost a completely new team you’re seeing this year.
Thoughts from a conference foe on Rod Carey, who is 5-0 against Buffalo?

 

The guy went 38-10 in the MAC, won four division titles and two conference championships. That’s more a statement of his competence than the fact he owned Buffalo. Though I will say last year he really out-coached Leipold at the half. 
Would Buffalo be interested in taking UConn’s place in the AAC since it brings a better current hoop and football program and a bigger TV market?

 

While it might not be the best financial move in terms of the non-revenue sports I would love the move for Buffalo. The New York to DC corridor is a huge location for our Alumni base, and Buffalo is getting more students from that Area than they do from Buffalo itself.
That along with the better depth you have in hoops would make a move to the AAC a no brainier for Buffalo. So if you have any pull with the folks at the American office, pass along a note for us.
Saturday: Game Day and Polls