USF: The reason Temple hired Stan Drayton

A year ago in this space after a brutal 34-14 loss to USF, we vented.

We wrote an open letter to Temple University President Jason Wingard asking to fire Rod Carey.

Don’t know if this blog was the reason Temple did something Temple never does–eat $6 million of a $10 million contract–but losing to USF was the final straw. The Bulls ran all over Temple and it was painfully obvious Temple never hit the weight room in the offseason. On top of that, Carey’s strength coach turned out to be an alleged serial abuser of athletes and former player Iverson Clement’s video documenting the abuse made its way to athletic director Arthur Johnson’s office.

Don’t know where the money came from but that post got at least 30 eyeballs in oil-rich Kuwait so maybe we had something to do with the buyout. (I’ve checked our figures and that’s 15 more people from Kuwait on a given day who usually view this site. Maybe there’s a closet Temple football fan in the Kingdom. If so, God bless you, sir.)

Temple then hired Stan Drayton and the one thing Drayton has gotten right is the weight room. He hired two of the top strength guys away from Ohio State and, if anything, the Temple numbers in the weight room have doubled what they were under Carey.

Plus, the kids love the strength coaches.

On Saturday, it showed.

Temple was the team that pushed USF around and those numbers, finally, were reflected on the scoreboard in a 54-28 win over the Bulls at Lincoln Financial Field.

This was the Temple team we thought we’d see from the jump this year, a team capable of a 6-6 season on the way to an AAC championship run next year.

Better late than never.

Incredibly, USF entered the 2021 game as a 3.5-point favorite and won by 20. It also entered this game a 3.5-point favorite and lost by 26.

That’s a huge one-year turnaround and it’s the difference between Drayton and Carey.

There are a couple of ways to look at this game that can be put either in the half-full or have-empty category.

One, USF is so bad that this game can be viewed as an outlier. That’s the half-empty way to look at it.

Two, that Temple is improving so rapidly we can now expect a couple of more wins before the season ends. Maybe more. That’s the half-full way of looking at it.

Put us in the half-full category.

One, as bad as USF has been, Saturday was the first time it was blown out in a league game by at least 26 points. This has been a representative team against Cincinnati (a 28-24 loss), the storied Florida Gators (a 31-28 loss), 19th-ranked Tulane (a 45-31 loss) and Houston (a 42-27 loss).

Two, the Owls might have finally found their offense.

For two years, we’ve been scratching our heads wondering what two coaching staffs saw in Edward Saydee but we were told by those who watched the practices that Saydee has been by far the best practice running back for two separate staffs.

Finally, practice translated to a game in a 268-yard performance.

That took the rush off E.J. Warner and he shined with a couple of touchdown passes. Warner is a very good quarterback when he doesn’t have a hand in his face. Maybe Saydee’s emergence means he won’t for the rest of the season. We can only hope.

Three, the defense–save for one game–has been good all year and, even though the Owls gave up 28 points, that side of the ball can be counted on the rest of the way.

If now the offense joins the party, there is not a team remaining on the schedule Temple can’t beat. That could not have been envisioned even a couple of days ago.

Monday: The Reaction

We’ll find out if TU football is fixed soon

Temple’s last loss to USF was this 44-7 black helmet embarrassment two years ago.

That old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” certainly doesn’t apply to Temple football these days.

Based on one game, Temple football is broke. The evidence certainly was there for all to see in a 31-29 loss to Navy on Saturday night.

For those who don’t have ESPN+ you can watch two guys watching and describing the game by cli
cking on this link

We will find out soon if the season is broken tomorrow, though. There’s no team worse in the AAC than USF and, if the Owls can’t beat the Bulls, there’s serious doubt that they can beat anyone else. That game will be played in front of family and friends (about 500) at Lincoln Financial Field and on TV (ESPN+) with the rest of the Owl fans watching from home.

Consider this: USF is coming off a 44-24 home loss to an ECU team that itself was coming off a 20-point loss to Georgia State. Not Georgia or even Georgia Tech, but Georgia State. Even coming off that loss, ECU was able to post its first win over USF since 2014, the year it was ranked No. 19 nationally (and lost to Temple).

Temple certainly went into the season thinking it was better than both ECU and USF but the Navy performance raised some doubts. The Navy game was the second in a row that the Owls underperformed from the standpoint of national perspective. In the bowl game against North Carolina, they entered as a 6.5-point underdog and lost, 55-13. Against Navy, they were anything from a 3-7-point favorite (depending on the day of the week) and lost, 31-29.

National confidence is still there in the Owls as they entered this one as a 10.5-point favorite but, no matter how much talk there is inside the Edberg Olson Complex about pad level, fans know what they saw with their two eyes:

One, the defense couldn’t stop the run;

Two, they couldn’t make the most obvious of two-point conversion calls in the red zone (a lob to a 6-6 wide receiver against a 5-10 corner).

For those up early Saturday morning, you can hear the excuses by watching 6abc between 9:30-9:50 a.m.

Three, they saw on the film that Navy couldn’t stop a fullback all season but Temple refused to improvise and adjust enough to use one in order to win an important game because, you know, that’s not the way we did things at NIU.

Any one of those adjustments would have probably made Temple 1-0 at this point. Making none of them bordered on coaching malfeasance.

That’s the definition of broken.

Maybe the first part, being overwhelmed physically in the run game, had a lot to do with the second because the scheme to stop that run game was also designed by the same coaching staff that decided on a horrible two-point conversion call.

Whatever, the responsibility for the defeat lies at a well-paid coaching staff that didn’t do its job well enough. Other well-paid coaching staffs, at BYU and Air Force, were able to take similar talent and perform at a higher level against Navy than Temple was.

After the game, that same coaching staff talked more about pad level on the field than the coaching ability off of it.

Right now, as I see it, that’s the broken part. Pad level, schmad level. The braintrust will need to be fixed first. We will find out if they can adjust the head level soon enough.

Late Saturday: Game Analysis

Fizzy closes the book on USF

Editor’s Note: If Fizzy, as loyal a long-time fan and season-ticket-holder as he is, says he won’t sit in the cold for the final two games (which he did in the last story), then you know our attendance is not going to approach the 30K average it has through the first five. His recap of USF starts here. 

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By Dave (Fizzy) Weinraub

                                       How to Shoot Yourself in Both Feet Without a Gun

Offense

  1. The offense continually stops itself with penalties.
  2. The play calling in the red zone and at the goal line is atrocious.  The first two play calls with first and goal are always up-the-gut.  (Dairy Queen is introducing a new product, the Temple all-vanilla softy.)
  3. Twice when Russo got sacked, linemen inconceivably double-teamed, while the linebacker rushed freely.
  4. Continually on third and long, no roll-outs – no imagination.
  5. The offense scored 10 points.
  6. So far, Anthony Russo has had only one really good game. (It was the one with 7 drops.)  In fact, he’s regressed a little since last season.
  7. Isaiah Wright has also gone downhill since last season.

Conclusion:  The game should have been put away in the first half.  Temple needs a new offensive coordinator.

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Photo of crowd DURING the game (not at halftime or in warmups) shot from Buccaneers” super box where Bruce Arians hosted his former Owl players

Defense

  1. If the SF receiver doesn’t drop the wide-open deep pass in the fourth quarter, the games’ a nail biter.  There were also two other SF barely overthrown deep passes to open receivers.
  2. Sometimes it’s tough to avoid a targeting call, especially when the receiver or ball carrier suddenly ducks.  However, our outstanding linebacker (Chapelle Russell) had at least three steps before hitting the SF QB in the head with his helmet in the first quarter.  Inexcusable!
  3. A really dumb roughing the kicker penalty negated a terrific stop of SF when the games was tied.

Conclusion:  If it wasn’t for the outstanding performance by our defensive rushers and all their sacks, as well as the defensive touchdown, we’d have probably lost this game. This is the sloppiest 6 – 3 team I’ve ever seen.  Oh yeah, the win was nice.  We are now eligible to go to the White House Sub Shop Bowl in Atlantic City.

There are three important things in football – coaching, coaching, and coaching.

Tuesday: The Improving Scenarios

Owls Need To Show Signs of Life

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These guys helped change the culture from a 20-game losing streak to a nine-win regular season in just four years. This current Temple team needs to win tonight if they hope to match that season.

A long time ago in a college halfway across the state, a young man named Al Golden earned a Bachelor of Science degree in a new major then called sports psychology.

He found a place to put it to good use when he arrived at Temple as the youngest head coach in the country some 14 years later.

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If anything, the ECU game points to USF being the slightly stronger team recently with GT game showing the Owls being the better team earlier in the season; still not much to chose

When Golden set up shop at the E-O, he found a program as fractured mentally as it was physically. The Owls would lose 20-straight games before Golden slowly started to turn things around and right a ship that has sailed pretty much in the right direction since.

Golden understood the psychology of sports as it related to winning and losing. Winning is contagious and so is losing and, for this season, the Owls not only have lost the last two games, they looked disinterested on the sidelines. Temple has to stop the bleeding starting tonight (8 p.m., ESPN) at South Florida. Losing by 63-21 on top of 45-21 can shake your belief system, so the Owls will have to show some life tonight, especially on the sidelines.

Body language is important and Golden was the first Temple coach to make the Owls who weren’t playing at the time an important part of the team by getting everybody swaying back and forth, locking hands and cheering on their teammates. It wasn’t as hokey as some of the money down shenanigans Geoff Collins pulled recently, but a useful exercise in team bonding.

That might not help the guys on the field block and tackle better but it will show everyone that their teammates care that they do. Apparent the last two weeks has not only been the lack of blocking and tackling (and catching) but an appalling sense of resignation on the sidelines. Maybe a players-only meeting addressed that issue. We will find out tonight.

One of the things that Golden did was target captains of winning high school programs. Eighteen of his first 25-man class were captains of championship teams. “It wasn’t as important to me as getting the higher-rated recruit, as it was to change the mindset,” Golden said. “I wanted winners here who refused to lose.”

So Golden not only brought those winners in, but he applied a tourniquet in some of his psychological approaches on gameday and maybe that’s what this team needs.

If Temple football is going to do something more than just make another obscure bowl game, the game at South Florida tonight represents the last stand to recapture the brand that has stood not only for winning over the last decade but for sustained excellence.

Face it: Even if the Owls cannot get past Cincinnati and UCF in the standings, what they can control is to finish the regular season 9-3 and not 6-6 and those are two polar opposite outcomes.

Nine and three would be a good record and get the respect of people nationwide. Six and six is just the middle of the pack mediocre in a business where 130 other programs are struggling to be noticed.

Owls need to show some signs of life tonight, both on the field and in the sidelines, after not showing it anywhere for the last two weeks. Showing that they care would be a good place to start.

Predictions: Another 3-3 week. Only one game jumps out at us on the schedule this week so we’re just taking Boston College to cover the 1.5 at Florida State. For the season, we are 28-22 against the spread and 32-20 straight up.

Friday: Game Analysis

Welcoming Opposing Fans

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Former Owl greats Kevin Jones (left) and Joe Greenwood sent these USF fans home with a smile on their faces.

Over the years, being a fan is the derivitive of the word fanatic.

Sometimes, it’s a good thing, sometimes a bad one.

My love of Temple and my hatred of the “bad guys” (anybody playing Temple) sometimes got the best of me but, over the last decade, I’ve matured and become more welcoming to the fans who wear other colors than Cherry and White.

I have a lot of people to thank for that, specifically some terrific hosts of tailgates–like Steve Conjar and Sheldon Morris–who I’ve been able to learn from and adopt their attitudes.

Huskers

Mostly, watching them becoming good Ambassadors for Temple football, I’ve come to conclusion is a win-win for the program. When one group of fans from another school travels home, they can say what a terrific experience they had in Philadelphia with the Temple fans.

The fans you meet in person are often less aggravating than the ones who make antagonist comments about the Owls on the internet.

Take last Saturday, for instance.

The Sheldon Morris Group–which includes some of the great Bruce Arians’ players like Joe Greenwood, Paul Palmer and Mike Hinnant (to name a few)–welcomed a few South Florida fans into their post-game tailgate.

“It’s how we do,” was the way Joe Greenwood described it.

Despite the loss, those guys had a great time and will take the story back home to Tampa.

Maybe next year, the South Florida fans will recipocate.

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Err, just for this guy I’d like to see Temple ring up 80 on UConn, though.

I’ve had a few terrific experiences on the road, including one at UConn in 2012. Myself and the late great Phil Makowski were walking around in the parking lot at Rentschler Field and a couple asked us about Temple and we got into an interesting hour conversation about Eastern football, other universities and towns. They introduced us to two more UConn fans and so on and so forth. The Husky fans could not have been nicer.

The next year, we returned the favor at the Temple tailgates.

I’ve found the nicest fans are the Navy fans, but I’ve never been to a game at Army. Notre Dame fans were terrific both in South Bend and at Lincoln Financial Field. A steady stream of green-cladded Irish walked up my aisle as I sat dejected after a 24-20 loss in 2015 and shook my hand and said things like, “Keep your head up, you have a great team.”

Even though, we all root for different teams, the thing that binds us is our love of college football and our schools.

Empathy is wonderful but it’s learned and not inherited. UConn is going through a tough time now–as we went through once–and it’s important to win and party with class and Temple, largely, has done that thanks to a special group of people.

Hopefully, the goodwill reflects as positively on the university as the play of the kids wearing Cherry and White does.

Sunday: Game Analysis

 

Getting The Job Done

Going into Saturday, the Temple football team had one job to do.

Win. The. Game.

They didn’t have to look pretty doing it, like they did in a 49-6 win over East Carolina a month ago. They didn’t have to even cover the spread.

They just had to win the game.

It wasn’t pretty and it didn’t cover the spread and the offensive coordinator and his enabler did some more head-scratching things in a head-scratching season, but the defense and Isaiah Wright bailed the Owls out again and Temple won 27-17.

Meanwhile, they lost about 10,000 potential season-ticket holders with heart ailments because if this trend continues into next year, the doctors will write a prescription to watch the home games on television instead.

The main head-scratcher was giving Ryquell Armstead no support in the running game. Last week, the Owls gave Armstead a caravan of blockers in the form of tight ends and H-backs in motion. This time, they fell back into old habits by lining him up in an otherwise empty backfield and asked him to try to beat 11 guys all by himself.

Worse, this is the first time since the Rutgers’ game of 2013 that the Owls went to a shotgun on fourth and less than a yard.

Just like that Rutgers’ game, they did not get the yard on a handoff out of the shotgun. You learn in Geometry 101 that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and there was no reason to line up quarterback Anthony Russo in a shotgun. Armstead following 6-1, 330-pound Freddy Booth-Lloyd was the higher percentage call in that down and distance situation followed by a handoff to Freddy Love himself or even a sneak by your 6-foot-5 quarterback. If you go shotgun with inches to go, at least make a pass part of the option. You are only helping out the defense by running out of a shotgun.

The Sainted Wayne Hardin said that many times. There is a reason why he is in the College Football Hall of Fame and Dave Patenaude is not.

The lowest percentage call is what the Owls went with and that was a deep handoff against an overloaded defense.

That seems to be the new normal for Temple offensive football, though. Figure things out one week, then lapse into old habits the next.

Fortunately, the Owls are going to a bowl and probably will win eight regular-season games but you get the nagging suspicion that this season could have gone much better with a more disciplined and focused offensive approach.

That’s a job for another day, though.

Tuesday: Fizzy’s Corner

Thursday: Opposing Fans

Saturday: The Answer Right Underneath Our Noses

Nothing To See Here

bobster

Maybe Geoff Collins has us fooled all along.

The problems we have seen with our beloved Temple Owls for three games he does not see.

Like Baghdad Bob above, there is nothing to see here and the Owls are in fine shape to upset preseason AAC favorite South Florida tonight (ESPN, 7:30) in Tampa.

At least that’s the vibe I’ve been getting after each Collins’ press conference. Last Saturday, on the “Temple Football Playbook” show, Collins looked positively giddy to be 2-1 and the kids are playing great and the two teams he barely beat are “really, really good” football teams. There’s plenty of juice in the building.

Never mind that one “really, really” good football team barely beat Lehigh and the other “really, really” good football team lost to Coastal Carolina, Old Dominion and Hawaii.

Tonight, Temple plays a “really, really, really, really good” football team in USF on the road.

The fact that the public sees Temple as a 20-point underdog does not seem to faze him one bit, nor did the prediction before the season that USF would finish first and the two-time defending AAC champions would finish third. “I love it,” Collins said at the time.

Those same two-time AAC East champions are now ranked seventh in the AAC power rankings based on a couple of subpar performances after an opening-day embarrassment when there was no sign of the “Temple TUFF” we had been used to for the past two years.  Collins blamed it all on misfits, but Temple fans weren’t buying that explanation because essentially the same players who were supposedly caught in misfits were not particularly known for screwing up similarly under a different set of coaches.

Tonight’s game is a referendum on just how Temple should select its head coaches post-Collins Era. Should it go the way that, say, USF did and hire a guy with head coaching experience who has done it before as a HEAD coach in an urban setting (Louisville) or churn that coordinator pile once again and hope to come up with a flavor like Al Golden or Matt Rhule, knowing full well it could be sour-tasting like Steve Addazio?

Temple AD Pat Kraft thinks he made a brilliant selection with Collins. Only time will tell.

One thing about coordinators is that not every great one was meant to be a head coach. It’s a different job being a head coach and you never really know a good one until you see him in action on game day.

Maybe Collins was just playing Possum and we will now see Temple TUFF, a running game, a defense that can stop the run and crossing patterns underneath and an offense that is innovative and not predictable.

One thing is certain: Temple fans will be watching tonight with a lot of anxiety mixed with a only little bit of hope.

It’s up to Collins to Keep Hope Alive by proving that Kraft’s confidence in him was well-placed.

Tomorrow: Game Analysis

Walking a Fine Line

Amazingly, there is not a single color photo of this on the internet.

Amazingly, there is not a single color photo of this on the internet.

Matchups are supposed to mean more to the Temple basketball Owls, who open tonight (7 p.m., CBS Sports Network) against preseason No. 1 North Carolina than the Temple football Owls, who will be that network’s prime time show tomorrow night.

Don’t pretend to know what the basketball matchups are, but I will venture to say that the football matchups favor the Owls against host South Florida on Saturday night. The Owls, like USF, are a running team who pass well off play action. Unlike USF, though, the Owls have a dominating defense capable of shutting down the best running backs in the nation.

tampaweather

Tampa weather. Gosh, I hope the Philly snowbirds show up like they did at the 2008 World Series.

USF sophomore Marlon Mack is certainly that, but ask yourself honestly: Is he better than Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise? No. The Owls held Prosise (pronounced PRO SIZE) to just 46 yards on 12 carries. Does USF have a quarterback with 1/10th the talent of DeShone Kizer? Err, that would also be a negative.

South Florida is good, but it would seem in many areas its strengths are more than negated on the other side of the ball by Temple’s strengths. If Temple can stop Prosise, it can certainly stop Mack and force the Bulls to throw the ball, where they will have to face a defensive pass rush that sacked Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg 10 times. Temple has the only player in America with two pick 6s in Sean Chandler and, in Tavon Young, it arguably has a better corner manning the other side.

The fine line the Owls will have to walk on Saturday is a psychological one. They know that this game is for a championship, albeit an AAC East one, and they have never entered a game with that kind of mindset. On the other hand, they have played in what the newspapers called “the biggest game in Temple football history” (Notre Dame) and acquitted themselves well. They lifted the 800-pound, 74-year-old Gorilla called Penn State off their backs and THEN won a more meaningful game the next week at Cincinnati, jumping out to a 34-12 fourth-quarter lead.

They did all of that knowing that the hashtags #LeaveNoDoubt and #What’sNext have a special meaning only they understand fully. It’s a fine line they will be walking on Saturday night, but they’ve walked similar lines like Karl Wallenda and still managed to get to the other side.

There is no reason to believe they are going play like anyone other than the champions they have been all season.

The Bad Guys Are Confident, Too:

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Throwback Thursday: When USF BOT Chair Dissed Temple

In what goes around comes around department, Temple football is coming around this weekend and what the Owls can do will be the focus of football activity at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night.

While there, a current member of the BOT at the University of South Florida, John Ramil, might want to stop by and offer an apology for what he wrote after the last time the two teams met, Oct. 6, 2012. Temple won that game, 37-28, and Ramil fired off an email to President Judy Genshaft where he said losing to Temple was “disgusting and unacceptable.” He was BOT chairman then; he no longer is that now, but still resides on the board.

USF boss: Losing to Temple "disgusting and unacceptable."

USF boss: Losing to Temple “disgusting and unacceptable.”

If the tone of the letter sounded similar to Temple fans, it was pretty much the reaction of the entire MAC football conference on every opposing message board after each first loss to Temple and that conference eventually got used to it. The Owls did well enough on the field, in the stands and with TV ratings to earn an invitation to the then Big East football conference. The holdovers from that conference are now the AAC, one of only two conferences with four teams in the Top 25. Now, pretty much everyone—with the exception of No. 4 Notre Dame—is getting used to losing to Temple.

A Temple win on Saturday night (7 p.m., CBS Sports Network) would make the Owls the first team in AAC history to clinch a division title, the AAC East. This is the first year the AAC went to a divisional championship format, with the East winner facing the West winner at the site of the team with the best conference record.

Ramil’s knee-jerk response after the 2012 game was a reminder of how things change in college sports and how respect for an opponent matters. The perceptions of the two programs are a little different than they were in 2012, and an apology to the Owls for disrespecting their program probably would be the appropriate response now.

While Temple would no doubt appreciate one, no one in the Owls’ traveling party is holding their breath.

Tomorrow: ‘][‘-Minus One Day