You’ve seen those maps in every mall in the country, an arrow pinpointing your location with the words: “You are here.”
In Temple football’s case, “here” means simply this: You have a football team with a winning defense and a losing offense, and the faster you can match one with the other, the better the shopping haul for wins will be.
At some point, the defensive players will ask themselves, maybe subconsciously, what is the point of busting our ass if the offense isn’t going to help out?
Maybe the play on that side of the ball erodes as well.
What’s abundantly clear, though, is that the “easy” part of the season is over. It only gets tougher from here on out. The Owls weren’t competitive when it mattered against Duke and maybe the good effort against Rutgers wasn’t as impressive as originally thought. UMass almost beat Eastern Michigan (which did beat Arizona State) so the Owls getting 28 points on that team was encouraging.
Temple is significantly better than it was a year ago but so is the rest of the AAC. The UCF team that Temple faces next hung with a good Louisville team and blew out a Georgia Tech team that just beat Pitt.
Navy, which lost to Memphis by a worse score than Temple did, follows UCF.
After that comes a Friday home game against Tulsa, which played competitive games against two ranked teams, Ole Miss (35-27) and Cincinnati (31-21). Then a home game against USF, a visit to Houston, home against Cincy and East Carolina.
It’s hard to find more than two wins left on that schedule and, even then, those two wins figure to be a battle well into the fourth quarter.
The offense–which has some explosive players (Adonicas Sanders, Amad Anderson, Quincy Patterson, for example, produced at places like GT, Purdue and Virginia Tech before coming to Temple)–needs to get the ball in the hands of those guys and others in space. It needs to establish a representative running game to keep its freshman quarterback from getting killed and create space for playmakers.
Easier said than done.
Temple has some time to figure that out but the Owls have only 10 days to get significantly better than what they showed two days ago or the results of this season will be about the same as the last one.
You don’t need a map to remind you that wasn’t a good place to be.
Friday: Possible solutions