Temple will have to play for the die-hards Saturday

Photo in post below courtesy of Zamani Feelings

Perhaps the best thing to happen in Philadelphia sports this week was the worst thing to happen for Temple football.

The Phillies won that first game in Philadelphia on Tuesday which meant that a Saturday night World Series game would be played and have the attention of the entire city including the “casual” Temple fans who make up at least half of the fan base.

I had a chance to visit the campus yesterday and picked up a copy of The Temple News. The story on the front page wasn’t about being excited for the Temple football game against visiting USF on Saturday but about how much Temple students were into the recent success of the Phillies. The Temple football game wasn’t even mentioned, not even farther back in the sports section. They were interviewed about what they were going to do the rest of the week and their plans revolved around the rest of the World Series.

This city loves a winner and, even though the Phillies lost on Thursday night, they will still be playing for something meaningful on Nov. 5. Temple will be playing out the string on Nov. 5 and whatever games are left after that.

Those are the hard, cold facts.

Even though the Temple game is at 2 and the Phillies game is at 8, that has to affect the attendance from the perspective of people driving in from the suburbs or catching a weekend regional rail schedule where the trains to the suburbs are two hours apart (pre-pandemic, for example, they have spaced only an hour apart on Saturday). My guess is that a lot of people will say bleep it and stay at home to watch what might be the last baseball game of the season.

That means the Owls will be playing in front of roughly 10-12,000 die-hard fans at Lincoln Financial Field in search of their first league win.

The Owls made their bed by first not winning the Homecoming Game against Rutgers–their best chance to keep a large following–but also by sleepwalking through the subsequent games.

Some terrible offensive coaching last week (a pass targeting their second-best pass-catching tight end was dropped and zero thought in play calling with a first-and-goal at the 5 in regulation when Temple had to score to win) robbed them of their first real chance of a league win.

Now they have perhaps one more. Vegas had USF favored by 3.5 points going into the game and some money went Temple’s way as the Owls were bet down to three as of Thursday night.

That’s a tepid acknowledgment that USF is bad, too.

Who will win?

Who knows but for this Temple fan I’ve been hoping for the offense to show up for a month now and all hope has gotten me is three points against Memphis, 13 points against UCF, 9 offensive points against Tulsa, and 13 offensive points against Navy.

Those are the kinds of numbers that get an OC fired at a place like, say, Rutgers (which happened earlier this year). For some reason, first-year head coach Stan Drayton has not felt the same sense of urgency that coach Greg Schiano has at Rutgers.

At some point, the post-game analysis needs to shift from “they lost but played hard” to “they found a way to win.”

Saturday, in front of a sparse crowd at the Linc, would be a good time for that narrative to be born.

Late Saturday Night: Game Analysis

Picks this week: After an unbeaten Thursday night, going to sit this one out due to nothing jumping out at me as a mistake by Vegas. Record for the season: 22-17 ATS. (If I was going to bet, would take the under 39.5 in the AF at Army game because the under is 42-9 in the last 51 service academy games.)

Drayton probably is wondering what might have been

Temple was the only team in the AAC to have two four-star quarterbacks to start the season. Drayton probably didn’t figure on finishing it with a first-year freshman but this is where we are.

Physically, by all accounts, Temple head football coach Stan Drayton is on the mend from his recent viral illness and will be joining the team this week.

Mentally, though, he must have spent the last week wondering what might have been this year in a 2-6 season that looks like it’s most likely headed for 2-10.

If that didn’t make him sick, it certainly could not have made him feel well.

Going into the season, a lot of things had to go right for the Owls to win more than they have and right at the top of that list was quarterback Dwan Mathis.

Had Mathis played like the four-star quarterback he showed ONLY in the Memphis game last year–three touchdown passes and 349 passing yards in a Temple win–this Owls’ team might have had more success.

Instead, though, Mathis played like he had in all of his other five starts last season and was pulled for good in the 31-14 win over Lafayette. He needed to play well in one of those two games and he didn’t.

Other than catching a couple of passes, he hasn’t been back since.

What if, though?

Mathis at his best opens up the offense in a way E.J. Warner at his best doesn’t. He brings that element of running and throwing at a high level that Warner brings to only one side of the football.

Drayton has to take a peek at these other big-time teams and, almost to a man, the great ones have someone at quarterback who is a threat both running and passing the ball.

While Temple fans could have foreseen Mathis not playing well, fumbling the ball away once against Duke and twice against Lafayette had to be surprising. Maybe it’s the byproduct of wearing that green jersey and not getting hit for nine months leading up to the opener but it’s a move Drayton had to make.

When asked about it in the post-game, he said “putting the ball on the ground twice” was the reason he pulled him.

It’s kind of surprising, though, that Temple hasn’t seen much of Mathis or even Quincy Patterson since. Patterson especially being inserted into the game on Saturday with a first-and-goal at the 5 and THROWING a pass off a ball fake might have worked better than anything Everett Withers tried with Warner. That’s because Navy’s scouting report had to dictate selling out for a run when Patterson was in there because that’s pretty much all he did prior to that. The element of surprise was held by Temple and the Owls chose not to use that card.

It could have been their ace in the hole but Drayton wasn’t there to make that decision. He will be around for the last four and it should be interesting to see what decisions he makes or if it makes a difference at all.

Friday: USF Preview

Temple’s OT loss at Navy came down to one play

Slice it and dice it any way you want, but Temple’s 27-20 overtime loss to Navy came down to one play of one series.

Getting a first-and-goal at the 5 in the last minute of regulation, the logical move for a quarterback who has been hurried the entire day and an offense that can’t get yards on the ground is to roll the quarterback out and try to find a moving receiver target in the end zone.

What did Temple do instead?

Run straight into the teeth of the Navy defense for one yard to set up a second and goal at the 4. A lousy, lousy first down play call considering the personnel available. It wasn’t the only lousy play call. You have a former high school quarterback on your roster (Trey Blair) and you call a reverse pass for someone who never threw a pass in a game before (Amad Anderson)? Lousy call. How about a halfback pass using Blair instead? You have a proven pass-catching tight end (David Martin-Robinson) and you call a key third-down pass to the other tight end who caught only one ball all year? Don’t be surprised when he drops it. Lousy call. Incredibly bad roster awareness. Good coaches scheme to the individual talents of their players and it’s painfully obvious Temple doesn’t have enough good coaches or, worse, they don’t know what their players are capable of doing.

Now back to the most important play call of the day. Not scoring a touchdown on first-and-goal at the 5 is letting down every single kid on the team.

Talk all you want about the subsequent plays in the series, but a fake to the running back on the FIRST play, not the second one, and rolling the pocket could have bought quarterback E.J. Warner the time he needed to find someone–anyone–open in the end zone. No matter how many backup offensive linemen you might have on the field, any self-respecting offensive coordinator has to find a play to scheme a touchdown on a first-and-goal at the 5. Even if he doesn’t find someone, getting Navy on a hold in the end zone is a better outcome than a 1-yard gain up the middle.

Run on first down and the defense assumes that you’ve got to pass on the next two and adjusts the defense to suit that reality.

Navy takes the field

The difference there is the difference between winning and losing. Or Temple being up by 24-20 against a triple-option team that had to to the length of the field for the game-winner with a backup quarterback.

Chalk it up as another lesson for an offensive coaching staff that really should have the experience under their belts to not make the same mistakes they’ve been making at other places.

Stan Drayton when he gets better from this recent sickness will have a lot of difficult decisions to make this offseason and one of them should be to go in a new direction in the way of coaching staff leadership on the offensive side of the football.

Danny Langsdorf has come up microscopically small not only Saturday but the entirety of this season and it’s painfully obvious new leadership is needed on that side of the ball.

That said, the other two areas of the team–special teams and defense–contributed to Temple’s loss.

Temple’s offensive woes mean you can’t muff a punt that leads to a Navy touchdown. Defensively, in overtime, Temple has to be aware that there is literally no chance that a backup quarterback that had not completed a pass all game would complete one to beat Temple.

Temple’s defense had to be aware enough to sell out to stop the run from the 25 in overtime, kick the field goal and win the game.

For all of the apologists who say this is a moral victory (none exist in my mind), just remember that a local FCS staff with an entire team of FCS players was able to hold Navy to seven points this season.

If our local FBS team with the luxury of having FBS players was able to do the same, we’d be writing about a 20-7 Temple win today.

Whatever decent effort the players gave yesterday should have resulted in a win. They can mostly thank their coaches that it did not. Stan Drayton is the CEO and, even though he was home watching on TV, he is responsible for repairing this mess.

Monday: What Might Have Been

Navy-Temple: Transitive property proven wrong?

Notice how Delaware bunches up five players near the line of scrimmage, a 3-3-5 configuration and one LB two yards behind the center to take away the fullback. Every subsequent game Delaware changed back to its normal 4-3. Temple chief of staff Everett Withers has said the Owls won’t change their base defense to counter what Navy does and that’s not a good sign.

Manny Rojas would have been a good guy for the Temple coaching brain trust to consult on a professional level this week.

Rojas is the defensive coordinator at the University of Delaware, who not only beat Navy, but held them to seven points in a 14-7 win earlier this year. It might have been nice to pick his brain and ask how the Blue Hens held Navy’s potent rushing attack to less than 200 yards that day. (Or they could watch the film and see where Rojas played six defenders near the line of scrimmage, put his best down linebacker over the center and took away the fullback, and made Navy go sideline to sideline.)

Doubt it because coaches like to think they know everything and the game plan Temple will bring to Annapolis will probably be the one formulated in the coaching offices at the Edberg Olson Football Complex. Those game plans have been dreadful so far.

Judging by that approach and also comparative scores, this could get ugly.

Fortunately, transitive property rarely is a thing in college football where each game is different and the odd shaped ball bounces in strange ways.

However, humor us here just in case.

The way it goes for Temple at Navy (3:30 p.m., CBS Sports) is simply this: UCF beat Temple, 70-13; East Carolina beat UCF, 34-13 and Navy beat ECU, 23-20.

By that logic, Navy should come away with a historic 81-point victory over Temple by about 6:30 tomorrow night.

That won’t happen since college football has seldom proved the theory of transitive property and the way that Navy approaches the game–taking huge chunks off the clock with long scoring drives–does not lend itself to 81-point wins.

Still, there are plenty of reasons for Temple fans to worry about this particular game.

One, head coach Stan Drayton has been sick all week and Chief of Staff Everett Withers is the next logical choice to step in for him should Drayton not be able to make the game. Withers sat in for Drayton in Monday’s press conference and on Wednesday night’s Stan Drayton Radio show. Both times Withers said Temple will not change its base defense to counter what Navy does. That kind of stubbornness is what got ECU beat in a shocking home loss to Navy. Withers didn’t wither, though.

On both occasions, Withers referred to his role at Temple as the “coach of the coaches” and, if true, Drayton will probably delegate the ultimate authority to someone who has been head coach at places like North Carolina, James Madison and Texas State if he can’t make it. If Withers steps in and becomes Temple head coach for a day, he will be the first person to hold that job having been fired at three other places previously holding the same top job.

And Temple has played football since 1884.

Wonderful.

Get well quick, Stan.

Another reason for fans of the Owls to be concerned is that the same Navy defense Temple will play tomorrow held Tulsa to just 25 yards rushing. Temple, err, “held” Tulsa to 300 rushing yards.

That could mean a couple of things.

Temple’s defense could have a whole lot more trouble with Navy’s rushing game than Tulsa’s or, two, Temple–which had 89 rushing yards AGAINST Tulsa–could struggle even more getting yards against Navy.

A third reason to worry is that this same Navy team beat Temple, 38-14, last year, and Temple has fared worse in two of its three AAC games this season than last year (falling to a UCF team by 57 that it lost to by 42 last year and losing to Memphis team by 21 that it beat last year). To be fair, the 27-16 loss to Tulsa this year was better than the 44-10 loss to Tulsa last year.

You read that right. Rod Freaking Carey has outperformed Stan Drayton in two of the league three comparisons we have to go on. It would be nice for the Drayton staff to use the next five games to jump over that ridiculously low bar.

Maybe this is the day Drayton turns things around.

Or the day he hands the reins over to Withers, who does it for him.

Either way, Rojas probably could have made a significant contribution if asked. His email is rojasm@udel.com

Or he’s just one phone call away and there are still a few hours to place it.

Picks. Like ECU to cover the 3 at BYU and former Temple assistant Mike McIntryre, now the FIU head coach, covering the 6 against visiting La Tech tonight. Also laying the 8 with BC at UConn due to the fact that BC will probably bring more fans to the game than the Huskies will.

Record: Last week: 5-5. Season: 22-17

Update: Former Temple assistant Mike McIntryre inherited a 1-11 FIU team (part of that record thanks to Everett Withers) and now has them at 4-4. Coach of the year material. So we won on FIU and ECU and lost on UConn (as first-year coach Jim Mora Jr. also has done a better job than Drayton with less to work with). Neither of those two guys worked with Arthur Johnson so they are there and Drayton is here. Record for the season: 24-18.

Late Saturday: Game Analysis

Dancing on their own: The Temple Owls

This is the happiest I’ve seen the Broad Street Subway since Sept. 5, 2015.

Disc jockeys in this town like Jerry Blavat and Pierre Robert made a national reputation by taking a chance on a demo song, playing it, and then watching it go to the top of the pop charts first here, then nationally, by call-in requests.

If the present-day Philadelphia DJs still took requests, chances are a song by the alternative pop star Robyn called Dancing on My Own would top the list at least this week. That’s the unofficial anthem of the Philadelphia Phillies, who will steal much of the thunder from the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles over the next couple of weeks.

Jon Sumrall has Troy at 6-2 after three-straight losing seasons (one more than Rod Carey had).

Ironic the Phillies adopted it because the theme is heartbreak and isolation, about someone watching her boyfriend dance with a new girlfriend.

Today, the Phillies are feeling loved and included, while it is the Temple Owls who are feeling heartbreak and isolation.

That’s what happens when you lose to a team 70-13 one week, then turn around to watch that same team get spanked, 34-13, by a league rival you once owned the day after you lose, 27-16, to a two-win team.

If the team that beats you 70-13 gets beat the next week 34-13, what does that tell you?

At least Robyn was dancing on her own inside the club.

Temple proved it could win the AAC title here. With 1,564 players in the portal, it doesn’t need to wait more than one of two years to repeat

Right now, the Owls are on the outside looking into the AAC football club, pressing their collective noses against the window after being denied entry by the bouncer.

Or so it seems.

First-year coach Jim Mora Jr. is not talking playoffs, but certainly entertaining a realistic shot at a bowl game after a 1-11 season last year.

The reality of this season is that Rod Carey got fired for a lot of 63-21, 52-3, 49-7 and 61-14 losses. Then the school ate $6 million of Carey’s salary to hire a new guy and the new guy loses 70-13. You can talk about the change in attitude and culture inside the E-O but, until it shows up on the scoreboard on game day, that’s all it is.

Talk.

Maybe it’s not so much the coach as it is the players.

Or maybe it’s a combination of both.

There were 30 new FBS coaches hired last year and Athlon Sports ranked Stan Drayton 29th. That might have been because he had never coached anything above a position but Drayton hasn’t proven those guys wrong yet.

Drayton still has a chance to prove the so-called experts wrong, but the reality is that he has not this year and probably won’t. Other coaches inherited the same or worse records a year ago and have done better than Temple has. Temple has some good players like linebackers Jordan Magee and Layton Jordan, defensive back Jalen McMurray and tight end Jordan Smith but it needs a lot of Magees, Jordans, McMurrays and Smiths and doesn’t have time to wait for high school recruits to develop.

Sadly humorous tweet from a fan watching the Temple-UCF game.

Other schools got good in a hurry by reaching that same conclusion and the solution is staring Drayton right in the face.

The same names Carey was being called by Temple fans could be attributed to past coaches at places like Georgia Southern, UConn, Troy and Duke but those places, unlike Temple, see new coaches prove themselves by the most important metric–the scoreboard.

Georgia Southern, also 3-9 a year ago, had only four starters returning on offense and two on defense and was able to beat a Big 10 team (Nebraska) and post a 5-3 record under former USC head coach Clay Helton. That guy also had the same number of months to build a roster and did so by bringing in 16 transfer starters from the portal.

UConn was 1-11 with only two starters on offense returning and three on defense yet first-year coach Jim Mora Jr. remade the roster to the point where the Huskies are 3-5 with a win over Fresno State and a decent chance for a bowl game.

Troy’s Jon Sumrall has his team with a 6-2 record after Chip Lindsay had three straight losing seasons there (one more than Carey did at Temple).

Duke also had a 3-9 record and fewer starters returning than Drayton did, somehow first-year coach Mike Elko is not taking long to turn things around there. The Blue Devils are 5-3, coming off a 45-21 win at Miami. That’s just four first-year coaches. Temple is not the only place in the world that had an awful coach ruin their program but those places hired guys who made an impact right away. Others, like Mike McIntryre (former Temple assistant) at FIU and Tony Elliot (Virginia) also have better records than Drayton does in the same time frame Drayton has had.

They did it by remaking the roster with high-end transfer portals. That’s the blueprint they left for Drayton to follow this coming off-season.

It’s something he probably should have done nine months ago but better late than never.

Otherwise, he’s setting Owls fans up for another year of heartbreak, isolation and dancing on their own on the subway going Northbound away from the Linc.

Friday: Navy Preview

Game over, season over

If you’ve learned one lesson from every football game, it’s a good thing.

Temple learned four big lessons on Friday night in another embarrassment on national television, a 27-16 loss to visiting Tulsa and it is only a good thing if the Owls do something about it.

One, to win in big-time college football, you need a dual-threat quarterback.

Two, and somewhat related, enough of E.J. Warner. Nice kid, but if he can only put in the area of 10 points on the scoreboard every game, got to look for another kid. Don’t care if that kid is nice or nasty. Just find someone who can turn the scoreboard into an adding machine any way he can. Give Quincy Patterson a chance before he hits the portal and becomes a star at a place like Wake Forest. Hell, I’d even entertain the idea of D’Wan Mathis coming back because he put 39 on the board against Memphis last year and it doesn’t look like Warner is capable of the same thing. Who cares if he fumbles twice a game if the Owls are going to lose the rest anyway?

Warner’s ceiling in this conference appears to be 10 offensive points. Mathis’ ceiling is a proven 39. We don’t know what Patterson’s ceiling is, but it would be nice to find out.

Three, enough of Edward Saydee at running back. He’s just not fast enough or good enough to be the feature back at a school whose recent history includes Ryquell Armstrong, Jahad Thomas, Bernard Pierce, Matty Brown, Tanardo Sharps, Stacy Mack, Jason McKie, Sid Morse and Paul Palmer.

Four, drop the Temple TUFF moniker at least until you can put the “greater than” sign in front of the Navy moniker.

Navy tough > Temple tough.

The last lesson might have been the most important one of the night because, evaluating all of the available analytics, Navy was behind Tulsa in the next most-likely possible Temple win. After all, Delaware–a one-time whipping boy for Wayne Hardin–beat Navy, 14-7, in the first game of the season.

Navy has gotten much better with each game. Temple has gotten much worse.

That’s mostly coaching.

Ken Niumatalolo is a great coach. The jury is still out on Stan Drayton before we can answer that question truthfully. Navy held Tulsa to 25 rushing yards that day and Temple gave up more than 300 yards on Friday night.

If Navy can beat Tulsa, 53-21, and Temple can’t, what does that tell you about the rest of the season?

That Temple is going to finish 2-10, that’s what. That was even lower than the Whale Shit expectations of Vegas, which had the Owls at 2.5 wins.

Hate to take off the Cherry and White glasses, but that’s the truth.

On Saturday the fifth, South Florida comes to town. Do you really see the Owls hanging with a USF team that lost close games against ranked Cincinnati and Florida?

I don’t.

Very few others do.

Drayton can talk all he wants about each game being a “learning experience” but a lot of that learning should have been done before the season, not during it.

For example, the coaching staff should know down by 24-16 to go for the extra point and not the two-point conversion halfway through the fourth quarter. Going for the two, as Andre Ware correctly pointed out, should be reserved for the tying touchdown, not the penultimate one if that was indeed the mindset behind the decision. Even then, got to go for the extra point there and the extra point after the next touchdown to send the game into overtime. That’s Coaching 101.

When the coaches have to learn to do their jobs during the season, not before it, how can the players expect to learn their jobs?

The answer to those questions and the ones posted initially should be fairly obvious to any logical football fan.

Monday: Excuses or Reasons?

Saturday’s college football TV schedule

Temple-Tulsa: Heartbreak Ridge?

CapperTex is to college football computers what IBM’s Watson was to Jeopardy.

When we last saw the Temple football Owls on national television, the university’s reputation in the sport took a beating in a 70-13 loss to UCF on ESPN’s primary channel.

This should be the standard Temple home uniform. Way better than the black ones.

Same old Temple under Stan Drayton that existed under Rod Carey, the nation said, and the guys who play for Drayton gave little reason to argue with that assumption.

Now that the Owls are on that network’s secondary channel, ESPN2 (tonight 7:30), two major computer simulators have the team garnering respect but not the ultimate prize: A win.

The top NCAA football simulator has Tulsa winning, 24-21, generated by CapperTek. For those not aware, the top “human” handicappers against the spread usually rate in the 67-70 percentile. CapperTex’s artificial intelligence model has a 79 percent success rate.

If it is right and the Owls lose by three, that sets us all up for a heartbreaker. Tulsa opened as a 13.5-point favorite and the “wise guys” bet that down by a whole point over the last two days.

Can an Owl brother get a win here?

Possibly, because as good as artificial intelligence is, it does not account for the occasionally tipped ball interception or the stripped sack fumble.

The same model predicted Virginia would beat three-point favorite Georgia Tech on Thursday night, 31-27. Virginia won, but by 16-9. Maybe Tulsa wins by three more points than the computer expects, but maybe the Owls can do something about it.

Another model also has Temple covering the spread by losing “only” 38-26.

This CBS projection has the Owls covering the 12.5 spread by the slimmest of margins.

What does this mean?

Of all the remaining games on the Temple schedule, this is the Owls’ best chance for a win. There are a few reasons for this.

Our picks this week. We’re playing these separately for blog purposes but if all hit on a $10 parlay investment, $2,936.43 is the ROI.

Tulsa struggles in the run game, getting only 25 total yards rushing in a 53-21 loss at Navy.

That means the Hurricanes will be forced to pass against an Owls’ defense that has been very good against the pass in five of their first six games.

The game will simply come down to this: If the Owls can just do a decent job against the pass and the same kind of job Navy did against the run, they will keep it close.

If they can force a couple of interceptions against quarterback Davis (an odd first name, no doubt) Brin, they will post the upset.

Tough task?

Certainly.

Impossible?

No.

They will need to take the ball away twice to get the win. One fumble, one interception or two interceptions will do the job. On its end, Temple will have to protect the football.

If both teams play a clean game, Tulsa wins.

You read it here first.

At least now the Owls know what they have to do to avoid a broken heart. Knowing it and doing it is the difference between winning and losing.

Picks this week: In the graphic near the bottom of this post. Thought long and hard about the UL-Monroe at Army game but Army’s beatdown at the hands of an average Georgia State team convinced us that ULM can cover the 6.5. That’s the key play. San Diego State’s four-point win over a truly horrific Hawaii team convinced us that Nevada can win outright at home against SDSU. The Rice Owls are the best Owls playing college football this year (unfortunately) and should beat Louisiana Tech by a touchdown.

Update: Not a good week, won on Western Kentucky, Kent State, Rice, Louisville and Wyoming but lost on ULM, ODU, Texas State, UCF and Nevada. 5-5 for the week and now 22-18 on the season.

Tomorrow: Game Analysis

Monday: Excuse or Opportunity?

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.

Winning.

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

Langsdorf: Same bleep, different day

Temple’s defense almost allows a big fat guy to score against it. Far cry from the UMass or RU games

What started out as something sweet turned sour pretty quickly in Temple’s 70-13 loss at UCF on Thursday night.

E.J. Warner was holding the baton and orchestrating the offense like Leonard Bernstein and The New York Philarmonic for a while and Temple oh-so-briefly held a 10-7 lead.

Then the same old Danny Langsdorf offensive coordinator shit that we’ve seen the first five weeks of Temple football predictably happened on the sixth.

Danny Langsdorf contributed to Nebraska’s decline on the college football landscape and now he is doing his part to negate all the good Stan Drayton has done so far.

Quincy Patterson was inserted into the ballgame as the quarterback and–you guessed it–ran the football.

The playlist Bernstein, err, Warner had setup was perfect except that every football team that scouts Temple knows what’s coming when Patterson comes in: A run.

Talk about a buzzkill. As embarrassing as the 30-0 loss to Duke was, this was worse.

This harkens back to the Bobby Wallace days of consecutive 70-7 and 70-21 losses against Bowling Green.

I have no problem at all, unlike former Pennridge and Pitt running back/defensive back Louis Riddick, with Patterson coming into the game.

I have a problem with him doing the same damn thing in Game No. 6 that he did in Games 1-5: Run.

Had Patterson, say, THROWN the ball, there’s a good chance that UCF would not have been ready for it and Temple might … might … have been able to squeeze out a 17-7 instead of a 10-7 lead.

The game of football is a momentum game and who knows how Temple’s defense would have responded with the Owls not only having momentum but also the scoreboard on their side?

Probably wouldn’t have won but would have certainly made it more respectable than the 70-13 disgrace on national TV.

After a perfect 4-0 week against the spread last week, our picks this week.

We will never know.

The Temple defense certainly doesn’t get a pass but what happened was what we predicted would happen in this space a week ago. At what point does the defensive effort erode when they realize that they are busting their ass without any help from the offense?

We saw that breaking point on Thursday night. Say what you will about the defense, but at least that side of the ball gave maximum effort for the first five games.

The offense has shown little effort and less of a clue from a coaching perspective for ALL six games.

It’s not that Langdorf hasn’t been warned.

We’ve been saying in this space for a few weeks that the tendencies of the Owls are so clear when Patterson is in the game that the Owls might as well be handing their entire playbook and the plays themselves to Gus Malzhan during the pre-game warmups.

Winning in college football is hard enough as it is. When your offensive tendencies are that predictable, it’s almost impossible.

New Temple coach Stan Drayton does not have to fire Langsdorf before Tulsa–although by doing so he would send a clear message to Temple fans that he’s not accepting failure–but he does have to use his running back acumen and dictate the philosophy on offense.

Giving Patterson some PASSING series and not RUNNING ones is a good place to start. In a 2-4 season, the Owls haven’t tried that concept yet.

The seventh game might be too late to start but it’s definitely worth a try. Langsdoff has tried this shit for exactly half the season and the stink is unbearable.

Update: Went 4-2 with ODU and Illinois not only covering as dogs but winning outright; Navy covered the 12.5 and Buffalo and UMass went under (41) the No. (47); lost on NIU and Kansas. Last two weeks we were 8-2 ATS. Season: 17-13 ATS.

Monday: The path forward

Temple at UCF: A bridge too far?

This drive made the AAC championship possible for Temple.

Maybe it’s for the best that nobody expects Temple to win its game at UCF on national television Thursday night.

Temple’s players do. Temple’s coaches do and only the most die-hard fans do.

Maybe it’s best because UCF will be playing not to lose and the Owls will be able to play to win.

UCF went from an 0-12 season to a 6-6 one after Keith Kirkwood made this clutch catch for Temple.

There was a game like that six years ago between the teams when the Owls traveled to UCF with a championship on the line every week and played tight against a Knights’ team coming off an 0-12 season.

Temple fell behind, 25-7, but used perhaps the greatest 32-second drill in the history of the sport to pull out a 26-25 win. If the Owls don’t win that game, they probably don’t win the championship.

Both teams took a step forward after that night as the Owls won the championship and UCF went from 0-12 to 6-6.

If history repeats itself on Thursday night, and the Owls jump to a 25-7 lead and lose 26-25 but finish 6-6, the Owls would probably take that trade because, in reality, expecting a win here may be a bridge too far.

UCF beat a Georgia Tech team that beat Duke. On the flip side, Louisville beat UCF. Those Cardinals also lost to a Boston College team (that also lost to Rutgers). The Owls pretty much played Rutgers to a competitive standoff, getting more first downs, time of possession, and yards but losing only on a fluke-tipped interception.

Fluke-tipped interceptions are part of the game, though, and who is to say the Owls won’t be on the good side of that bouncing ball in a couple of nights?

What we’ve seen so far from Temple is pretty clear: The Owls have a defense that CAN keep them in every game and an offense that CAN cause them to lose every single game. They have an attacking defense and a predictable offense. Putting some unpredictability into that offense should be a feature of Thursday night’s game plan.

Really, the offense showed up only in the 28-0 win over Massachusetts, and, for the 2022 Owls to have the same kind of rebound season the 2016 Knights did, it will have to show up on a more consistent basis. The most interesting Temple-centric score of the weekend occurred at UMass where the same Minutemen who were shut out by the Owls but were also able to put up 24 points on Liberty.

Liberty might be every bit as good as UCF is now.

That’s not much to cling hopes on but there are signs that Temple will be competitive. After an 0-12 season in 2015, that’s all UCF could ask for in 2016 and it achieved that goal. After a 3-9 season in 2021, that’s about the best Temple fans could ask for now.

Of course, if the Temple players and coaches prove everyone else wrong on Thursday night, that would be OK too.

Friday: Game Analysis