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-TU: Ships Sailing In Opposite Directions

navy

A year  ago, the late, great Wayne Hardin gave the Owls good luck with this coin flip. He will be honored tonight.

Almost a year ago at this time, the sports talk show host with the highest ratings in the country was singing the praises of Navy’s football team.

“The one team in college football that intrigues me most is Navy,” said Mike Francesa of WFAN radio in New York. “That’s the most exciting team in my mind and, to me, that would be the one team that could throw a monkey wrench into this whole playoff thing.”

Fast forward only a couple of weeks until the AAC championship game and Francesa was still singing Navy’s praises.

milder

The weather has been the only good thing so far about this Temple season.

“Oh my God, they just scored 75 points on SMU,” Francesa said in an interview with Gary Daniels, a CBS sports network college football analyst. “They play Temple this week in the league championship game. I don’t know how good Temple is … “

“Temple is pretty darn good,” Daniels said, interrupting The Sports Pope.

“They better be to stay with that team,” Francesa said. “I’m going to be watching that game for sure.”

After Temple beat Navy, 34-10, to win the title, I placed my little Radio Shack transistor job—the only one that can get WFAN inside the building—on my desk at work hoping to hear Francesa sing the praises of Temple football before his vast radio audience.

Not a peep on the first day or the second day or the third. Temple was never given props at all.

Navy lost, so that was a subject Francesca conveniently dropped and went onto the next big thing that interested him, like the NFL.

“Temple punched us in the mouth,” said Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo after that game. “Usually, we are the ones punching other people in the mouth and we didn’t respond.”

Tonight (8 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field), Navy gets the rematch they have wanted a year for and they have the boxing gloves primed and ready. Wayne Hardin will be honored and, win or lose, that will be the highlight of the night for Temple fans.

ventell

The coaches keeping Bryant and Sharga on the field would be nice for a change.

Presumably, Temple will punch back but, on paper, at least, any hope of an upset here appears to be a ship that sailed a long time ago. The speed bags Temple has been working against don’t appear to be as big or menacing as the ones Navy has been punching.

The two teams have combined for four losses in the last few Saturdays but that’s where the comparison ends. These are two ships headed in opposite directions. Nick Sharga, who was so instrumental in that championship win, doesn’t even see the field for long stretches for this team. Ventell Bryant, whose touchdown catch started a good afternoon on offense for those Owls, seems to be an afterthought for these Owls. Blame it on the offensive coordinator all you want, but the CEO (Geoff Collins) bears ultimate responsibility.

Temple lost to a lousy UConn team, 28-24, and an Army team, 31-28, that the Owls had about 10x as much physical talent as two weeks ago. The blood for the scene of both crimes leads right back to the coaching offices at $17 million Edberg-Olson Complex.

During that same time frame, Navy lost to a great Memphis team, 30-27, and an even better UCF team, 31-21.

One of the more unabashedly optimistic followers on the Temple Fans Facebook page said “the Owls will NOT make  another service academy bowl eligible.”

To use another nautical term, I hate to torpedo his optimism but that assertion just doesn’t hold water. Right now, hours before the game, as far as an upset goes, it appears these are two ships sailing in opposite directions.

As a certain Commander-In-Chief might say: #Sad.

Friday: Game Analysis