An old friend of mine who was able to get into the locker room after Temple’s 30-14 win over Lafayette on Saturday noticed something odd about the celebration.
“A little over the top, if you ask me,” he said. “I mean, I’ve seen some pro teams celebrating championships that were compatible. It was Lafayette, after all.”
I told him that’s the half-empty way of looking at it.
The half-full way is this:
First, Temple had the second-longest losing streak in the country going into the game and finally shook that monkey off its back. That had to fuel the intensity of the celebration.
Two, the team has bonded with the new coach, Stan Drayton, the way it never did with the prior coach and had to revel in Drayton’s special first win.
Three, the Lafayette piece might be over exaggerated because a year and a week ago the same Leopards’ team traveled to Colorado and played to a similarly respectable 35-14 score against Air Force. A year ago, the Falcons beat Navy (23-3), Boise State (24-17) and Louisville (31-28).
Prior to that, last September, that was a Falcon team that came into the game a 40.5-point favorite against a Lafayette team that last year was not quite as good as this year’s version.
By comparison, this year’s Temple team was an 18.5-point favorite over Lafayette early last week but that line dropped to 13.5 by game time.
That’s not to say the Owls should be excused for their numerous warts but there were enough smooth spots to be encouraged.
It’s hard to beat any team, FBS or FCS, losing four fumbles and that’s a part of the game Temple needs to rectify going forward.
This was not the Wagner of last year Temple played. Wagner has now lost 22-straight games and has the longest losing streak in FCS. Lafayette is a legitimate contender for the Patriot League title with Holy Cross, a team that beat Buffalo on Saturday night.
Who knows would have happened if the Owls had taken care of the ball better or had they remained with the run after Darvon Hubbard ripped off 50 yards on four-straight carries? For some reason, the Owls decided that throwing the ball four-straight times after that success was a good idea.
Maybe they were on their way to a 66-7 type win like the one Rutgers had over Wagner. Maybe not.
We will never know but they held Lafayette to just 110 total yards and that has to mean something. Also meaning something is that De’Von Fox broke the Temple record of blocked punts in one game with three. Update: According to Shawn Pastor of OwlsDaily.com, Sharif Finch had two blocked punts against East Carolina in 2015. What Fox’s performance and the overall tightness of that part of the game means is that special teams, which Al Golden (correctly) said is a third of your team is now that important again.
That means a lot because the prior guy didn’t think it meant 1/100th of a team.
It should also mean something that a 10-3 Air Force team of a year ago wasn’t able to do much better and that’s a half-full glass worth raising. At least at the Rutgers’ pre-game tailgate.
Wednesday: Temple’s Homecoming Crowds