Let’s face it: The Temple Owls looked sick last week against Buffalo and they need a prescription to look like their old selves–or at least the Rosey-cheeked (Cherry-cheeked?) group that played against Maryland.
A Dave Patenaude pill washed down by a little of Geoff Collins’ swag juice might be just what the doctor ordered and that should be delivered at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday (3:30 p.m.) when Georgia Tech head coach Collins and his offensive coordinator Patenaude come to town.
At least that’s what Vegas thinks as the Owls were installed as a 9.5-point favorite and that rose to double-digits quickly.
Football is a strange game with an odd-shaped ball that takes funny bounces so it cannot be predicted from a mathematical standpoint. If that were the case, Syracuse, which beat Liberty (24-0) and lost to a Maryland-team (63-20) with Liberty beating Buffalo (35-17) would have meant Temple over Buffalo by 85 points.
It didn’t work out that way because it’s hard to give an X factor to overconfidence or a Y factor to turnovers or a Z factor to three dropped third-down passes.
Still, the variables involved with Patenaude and, to a lesser extent, Collins are pretty rigid and well-known in Temple land and have carried over to Atlanta.
Patenaude with the approval of Collins overhauled a highly successful Temple pro-type (at least the same pro-type run by Bill Belichick in Boston) and turned it into a spread ill-advised to suit the talents of the team he inherited all because that’s what “everybody else” does or because that’s what he did at Coastal Carolina. He probably should have won nine regular-season games his first year (instead of six) using the Matt Rhule system and at least 10 his second year but underachieved both years. In the 40-plus years I’ve followed Temple football, Patenaude was the worst coordinator-level coach here I’ve ever seen and there was not even a close second.
National people who don’t know better think Collins did a great job here. Local people here, not so much.
So what has he done in Atlanta?
He repeats the same mistake again, trying to force-fit square pegs into round holes.
Both have a team that was exclusively recruited to run a triple-option and have now turned it into a college spread because (you guessed it) “everybody else does it.” Great generals know if they have a strong infantry and weak cavalry they don’t design an attack based on the kind of cavalry they hope to have. Instead, they accentuate the infantry in any battleplan. Similarly, great coaches like Belichick don’t do things because everybody else does it. They do things to fit their personnel and make it work with flawless execution. If Patenaude and Collins were great coaches, they would recruit the personnel they want to fit their offense first and make it work only when those guys are ready to play and not the other way around. They would try to make some form of a triple-option work until then.
Rod Carey proved last week that he wasn’t perfect (really, no one is). I’m still no more thrilled that he has Anthony Russo run a read-option offense than I would be if Belichick did the same with Tom Brady. Overall, though, I’m glad he’s the doctor to nurse this team back to health and those guys on the other sideline holding up silly money down placards are the cure.
At least that’s what my instincts tell me. We will find out for sure in 48 hours.
Predictions early this week (to get the Maryland-PSU game in): MARYLAND getting 6.5 against visiting Penn State, WAKE FOREST giving 6.5 against visiting Boston College, SMU giving 7 at South Florida, EAST CAROLINA getting 3 at Old Dominion, UAB giving 2 at Western Kentucky, TOLEDO getting 3.5 over visiting BYU, CINCINNATI giving 3 at Marshall. Last week: 5-0 against the spread with Coastal Carolina covering the 17 against UMass (winning, 62-28), Old Dominion covering the 30-point underdog status at Virginia (losing, 28-17), Boston College covering the 7 at Rutgers (winning, 30-16), Indiana covering the 27 against UConn (winning, 38-3) and Iowa State covering the 29.5 against Louisiana-Monroe (winning, 72-20). Season so far: 12-4 straight up, 6-5 against the spread.
Saturday: Game Day
Sunday: Game Analysis