For Idaho, no place like Dome

Idaho is a completely different team indoors than outdoors.

Idaho is a completely different team indoors than outdoors.

The old Wizard of Oz line was that there was “no place like home.”
For Idaho’s football team, that’s especially true because, for the Vandals, there is no place like dome.

The last time Temple played in a small indoor arena (Carrier Dome doesn't count).

The last time Temple played in a small indoor arena (Carrier Dome doesn’t count).

The Vandals look like a Division II team outside of the Kibbie Dome. Inside the building, they play like a pretty good FBS team most of the time.
Whether it’s the familiarity with an unusual setting or the altitude, that’s something Temple’s football team will have to be aware of for tomorrow’s 5 p.m. (Philadelphia time) start (97.5 FM,  DirecTV via Altitude TV on DirecTV 681 and Dish Network 410-HDTV). The game is also available on the internet via a link to VandalsXtra here.
An Idaho team that loses, 42-0, on the road to Washington State, put 35 points up on Northern Illinois in a 45-35 loss earlier this season.

This chart  below shows that Idaho performs SIGNIFICANTLY better in home games than on the road:

Dome Sweet Home

Idaho Home This Year Idaho Away This Season
Northern Illinois 45, Idaho 35 (2013) North Texas 40, Idaho 6 (2013)
2012 Home Games: Wyoming 40, Idaho 17 (2013)
Eastern Washington 20, Idaho 3 2012 Away:
Wyoming 40, Idaho 37 Bowling Green 21, Idaho 12; LSU 63, Idaho 14
Idaho 26, New Mexico State 18 North Carolina 66, Idaho 0
Texas San Antonio 34, Idaho  27 Texas State 38, Idaho 7

Meanwhile, the Owls have problems of their own, especially with defense and the kicking game. Temple defensive coordinator Phil Snow had Eastern Michigan ranked 120 out of 125 defenses in FBS football last year, giving up  478.9 yards per game in 12 games last season. His Temple defense is ranked No. 119 currently, giving up 529 yards a game.

This is the same personnel Chuck Heater had when he shut out UConn in the second half a season ago; yes, the same UConn team that beat Louisville so talent does not appear to be an issue here. Hopefully, the changes made on defense with Nate D. Smith moving to one end and Matt Ioannidis moving to one tackle will help put pressure on the quarterback and take pressure off the defensive backs.

At least that’s the theory.

Snow has not recorded a shutout against an FBS opponent since 1996 — five years before he met a 25-year-old grad assistant at UCLA named Matt Rhule. Given the fact that the Vandals scored 35 points on a pretty good Northern Illinois’ team, he’s probably not likely to get one here. The feeling is the Owls will have to win a shootout, high-20s, high-30s, type game.

Temple opened as a 10-point favorite and the line dropped to 7 1/2 in just three days. There is not a lot of national confidence out there in Temple despite the strong words this week coming from the Edberg-Olsen Complex.

For Temple, this is where the talk about winning has to stop and the winning itself has to start.

Tomorrow: Late Saturday night game analysis

Another way to look at Fordham

Temple has not won crap with white helmets, dating back through Bobby Wallace, so I hope the Cherry ones come back soon but I like when Zaire Williams gets the ball, whatever helmet he wears.

Temple has not won crap with white helmets, dating back through Bobby Wallace, so I hope the Cherry ones come back soon.

Napoleon had his Waterloo.
Hitler had his Stalingrad.
Rhule had his Fordham.
Actually, Hitler and Napoleon had some victories first.
Matt Rhule losing to Fordham was like leaving Paris and Berlin with an Army and getting beaten in the suburbs by a Militia.
That’s pretty much the way I’ve been thinking about the Fordham game for the past 10 days.
On today, the 11th day, maybe the 11th hour, I had an Epiphany.
Fordham might not be a Waterloo or Stalingrad after all.
Fordham actually is a pretty good FCS team.

  Degrees of Fordham Separation
Fordham 30, Temple 29;
Fordham 27, Villanova 24;
Villanova 35, Stony Brook 6;
Buffalo 26, Stony Brook 23 (five overtimes, five missed SB field goals)
Ohio State 40, Buffalo 20
Fordham 51, Rhode Island 26
William and Mary 20, Rhode Island 0;
  West Virginia 24, William and Mary 17

I know the warnings about Transitive Property. Just because Team A beat Team B and Team B beat Team C doesn’t mean Team A will beat Team C.
There is, though, a lot of evidence based on the first three or four games of the season that Fordham is the real deal and Temple had the misfortune of scheduling Fordham instead of Lafayette or Monmouth this year.
Fordham went from not ranked in the FCS to No. 16 in the country and the Rams are moving up with a bullet.
The Rams have a top-level FBS quarterback in Michael Nebrich and a top-level FBS tailback in Carlton Koonce, who probably are more polished than the two players Temple had at those positions starting the game, Juice Granger and Kenny Harper. I think Zaire Williams is every bit as good as Koonce, maybe better, but maybe Rhule believes Williams had to wait his turn.
Well, that turn has come and, like Napoleon and Hitler, Rhule has reached Moscow in a defining moment.


That said, IF Paul Hornung Award leader
Chris Coyer gets fed the ball at least
10 or more times in a variety of ways
against Idaho, Matt Rhule will prove
to be smarter than Hitler or Napoleon
and have a lot easier time
in Moscow than those two did

Moscow, Russia for the first two; Moscow, Idaho for Rhule.
Still, no excuse for not pounding the ball against Fordham’s 247-pound defensive line but that mistake has to be chalked up to the inexperience of a young Field General in Matt Rhule.
Fordham, though, is pretty good. The Rams not only beat Temple, but they beat Villanova and last week Villanova beat Stony Brook like a drum (35-6).
If you don’t think that’s impressive, just check out what Stony Brook did the week before: It extended old Temple rival Buffalo to five overtimes before losing, 26-23. In a pang of pain Temple fans felt during the Houston game, two Stony Brook kickers missed five field goals during that game. Stony Brook should have beaten Buffalo, no doubt about it. Buffalo hung with Ohio State before losing, 40-20. Ohio State is about as good as it gets in college football these days.
Should have, could have and did are different things but you get the drift.
With a third-string quarterback, Temple could not get it done against one of the best FCS teams out there.
It happens.
Ask Iowa State, which lost to Northern Iowa, 28-20, and Kansas State, which lost to North Dakota State, 27-24. Kansas State was a top 10 BCS team all last season. Or Oregon State, which lost to Eastern Washington. Or UConn, which lost to Towson.
Something tells me at least one or two teams among Iowa State, Kansas State, UConn and Oregon State will survive and go to a bowl game.
Temple can, too, if it can get the ball in the hands of its explosive playmakers like Chris Coyer and Zaire Williams on a more regular basis. If is the same word as could and should and the hope is that Rhule spent the last 10 days figuring out how to change if and should to did and done.

That said, IF Paul Hornung Award leader Chris Coyer gets fed the ball at least 10 or more times in a variety of ways against Idaho, Matt Rhule will prove to be smarter than Hitler or Napoleon and have a lot easier time in Moscow than those two did. If he doesn’t, it will be another cold and nasty retreat.

Good news: Media Matters

John Mitchell was “late” to this Matt Rhule teleconference.

When it comes to Temple football losses, the old adage about a tree falling in the forest seems to apply.
You know the one:  If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Well, if Temple football loses to Fordham and no one is around to report it properly, does it sting as much?
When it comes to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s John Mitchell’s reporting about Temple after that game, no news certainly is good news.


The loss coincides with a
“perfect media storm” for Temple.
The first part of the storm
is a writer, John Mitchell,
who obviously doesn’t give a crap
about the beat he’s covering;
listen to him apologizing
to Matt Rhule above for “being late”
 12 minutes into a teleconference
and having Matt repeat
all of the position changes
he gave earlier.
I mean, how can you be late
for a teleconference? It’s not like you
have to fight traffic
on the Schuylkill Expressway

To me and you it does, but not to the general “Joe Philadelphia” public and that’s one of the small consolations we can take from what happened 10 days ago.
The loss coincides with a “perfect media storm” for Temple. The first part of the storm is a writer, John Mitchell, who obviously doesn’t give a crap about the beat he’s covering; listen to him apologizing to Matt Rhule above for “being late”  12 minutes into a teleconference and having Matt repeat all of the position changes he gave earlier. I mean, how can you be late for a teleconference? It’s not like you have to fight traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway.
The other part of the “Perfect Storm” was it coincided with Andy Reid’s Return. I listen to Philadelphia sports radio in between the commercials on 100.3 and Lady B, and Temple’s loss to Fordham wasn’t mentioned once on 97.5 The Fanatic on 94.1 WIP.
Thank Heaven for small blessings.
I guarantee you if that loss came on an Eagles’ bye week Mike Missanelli would have mentioned it and dug the knife further into the back of every die-hard Temple fan. Now it’s just about forgotten. Time to put it further in the rear-view mirror by winning at Idaho.
In reality, all Temple got in the local media was a bland game story and sidebar from Mitchell–what I call  the Kevin Tatum Treatment–going through the motions and skating by all week by not filing another Temple story. Tatum was famous for staying in the press box and waiting until the typed post-game coaching quotes came from the Sports Information Department and using typed quotes in his one story on the game. One story, one coaching quote, plus a lot of play-by-play. Pulitzer stuff it wasn’t.
Looks like Mitchell went to the Kevin Tatum School of Journalism.
Good.The less Temple stories after that fiasco, the better.

Click over the fans to get  five upsets this weekend.

Click over the fans to get five upsets this weekend.

The Inky’s Mike Jensen wrote one column later in the week, saying it’s too early to “Rule on Temple’s Matt Rhule” and that was it. Sort of my 15 minutes of fame in that he mentioned me in the lede without using my name, saying we both had better candidates for the Temple job than Matt Rhule, naming Colorado’s Mike MacIntrye and Bowling Green’s Dave Clawson. That falls under the “duh” department. Pretty routine stuff, although he forgot to mention Ball State’s Pete Lembo might have been available.
That’s it, though.
Whew.
Dodged a huge media bullet there.
Now that Matt Rhule is here, all we can do is back him and hope he does a better job of getting the ball in the hands of Temple’s explosive playmakers (i.e., Chris Coyer and Zaire Williams) and that Jalen Fitzpatrick can snap out of a three-game funk and add some dynamite.
Maybe Rhule spent the 10 days asking defensive coordinator Phil Snow why the DBs play 15 yards off the ball, instead of challenging the receiver for it.
We can only hope that time will heal this Fordham wound.
Meanwhile, we can be thankful to one lazy beat reporter and one former Temple football dad (Andy Reid) that almost nobody else in Philadelphia knows about it.

Tomorrow: More Good News

Einstein’s theory of Owl-tivity

Albert Einstein talks Temple football.

Albert Einstein talks Temple football.

Got to wonder what the smartest man in the history of the world would be thinking right now about Temple football.

Since the 30-minute conversation I had with Wayne Hardin on Saturday was pre-game and not post-game and I lost coach Hardin’s number, I can only move on to the second-smartest man, Albert Einstein.

I think our conversation would have gone something like this:

TFF: Mr. Einstein, you saw the Fordham game, how would you fix this Temple team?

AE:  Simple mathematics, my friend. Ten plus 5+5+5 + 20/12 and 20/23=6, maybe 7.

TFF: Huh?

AE: Look, your No. 10 can catch, throw and run, right? You only have him catching once or twice now. That’s just not maximizing his output.  Have him come around — what do you call it?

TFF: The end?

AE: Yes, the end, and have your No. 12 pitch the ball backward to No. 10  five times and then have No. 10 throw the ball. That’s the first part of the five equation.

I guess only Einstein knows Coyer can run, catch and throw.

I guess only Einstein knows Coyer can run, catch and throw.

TFF: What’s the second?

AE: Keep him at, what do you call it, tight end and throw him the ball five times.

TFF: What’s the third?

AE: Have him come around the end and toss it to him like he’s going to throw the ball, but make it a running play behind that  big guy who blocks well — what do you call it?

TFF: A pulling guard?

AE: Yes, a pulling guard. That No. 63, what’s his name?

TFF: Pete White.

AE: Yes,  have No. 10 follow Pete White and take off through the secondary. There you have it: Five throws, five catches and five runs. The defense won’t know what No. 10 is going to do when he’s got the ball in his hands. It’s called deception. Works a lot in all kinds of endeavors. Mix it up. Run these 15 plays alternately with your normal regular plays. What do you call them?

TFF: The Tennessee-Chattanooga plays.

AE: Yes, the Tennessee-Chattanooga plays.

TFF: What’s the 20/12 mean?

AE: Twelve, the man who throws the ball, is your  what?

Khalif Herbin meets the media on Tuesday and talks about his time in witness protection.

This could be Khalif Herbin meeting the media on Tuesday and talking about his time in witness protection. It’s been so long since we’ve seen his dynamic skills on the field we forget what he looks like. He’s 100 percent healthy, thank God.

TFF: Quarterback.

AE: Yes,  quarterback. He throws the ball 20 times. He’s pretty good at it. Have him do that about 20 times a game.

TFF: What does the 20/23 mean?

AE:  That number 23 is fast and he’s got some nifty moves. When 12 isn’t throwing the ball, give it to him about the same number of times 12 passes it. Also might help to have 12 drop back, draw the rush to him and then dump it off to 23. What do you call that?

TFF: A screen pass.

AE: Yes, a screen pass. Get No. 23 in space … and I don’t mean intergalactic space — just in the space behind the defenders and watch him go.

TFF: What’s the six, maybe seven, part mean?

AE:  Six wins, maybe seven. But listen. It all starts with getting No. 10 five carries, five passes, five catches. Nothing else works without that baseline formula. That way, you control the ball, create deception, score a lot of points. Let me ask you a question.

TFF: Shoot.

AE: You know about E=MC2, right?

TFF: Yes. It’s your Theory of Relativity.

AE: Yes. Do you have anyone on your team who matches the C part of the equation, someone with the speed of light?

TFF: Nobody that fast, but Khalif Herbin is the closest thing we have and he’s been on the bench.

AE: Well, get him on the field then and isolate him in situations where he can best use that speed, like quick passes and reverse. If he’s having trouble catching the ball, hand it off to him as a change-up running back.

TFF: Got it. Gee, thanks, Mr. Einstein. I’ll get this off to Matt Rhule and Marcus Satterfield as fast as I can. One more question.

AE: Anything.

TFF: What do you do to fix the other side of the ball, what we call the defense?

AE: Tough question. Who do you think I am, Einstein? That’s a joke.

TFF: Yeah, I figured that.

Thursday: Throwback Thursday