Thursday, September 10, 2009

Villanova loss: The Single Bullet FG Theory


The Zapruder Film of Temple football. Don't look, Ethel.

I will always support the program, me and the 15,000 die-hards. But I won't sugarcoat the truth. I just won't.
I haven't been in the mood to post on any of the message boards recently.
I'm in deep mourning.
Thirty years of losing, then being sold that this year would be different, then losing to a 1AA team, will do that to an individual.
I don't think Al Golden understood the importance of this game to Temple, its current students, alumni and fan base.
I don't think Al Golden understood the intense dislike Temple people have for Villanova people.
I don't think Al Golden understood if you lose this game, you lose an entire fan base (at least the much larger soft part of it, countless thousands of people who could have pushed our average past 30K) for a whole season. That's shy of beating Penn State, which, after that latest brain cramp, is just not going to happen.
In many ways, this was a program-killer. When the story of this program is written, it could include a chapter on redemption, about a win in front of 106,000 people at Penn State that started something big or it could begin and end with five turnovers.
The Zapruder Film of Temple football could be that bullet-to-the-head field goal that we allowed by playing a prevent defense in the final seconds.
Call it The Single Field Goal Theory.
I will always support the program, me and the 15,000 die-hards.
But I won't sugarcoat the truth.
I just won't.
The plain truth is me and the 15,000 die-hards are not enough to keep it running.
We are running out of "next years" because decisions on things like conference affiliations are being made now and will largely be determined by attendance.
You need big wins to fuel the attendance engine.
You need to protect your own house.
Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Kent, Fake Miami, just ain't going to cut it.
Not in this market.
That's why the Villanova game was so important.
Play the game, Al, but win the game.
As Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo used to rant to Mike Francesa on WFAN when those two were the No. 1 tandem in all of talk radio, "Win The Game, Mikey ... WIN ... THE ... GAME!!!"
Win the game, Al.
WIN ... THE ... GAME!
OK, I understand about the minus-4 turnover ratio. I understand all of that.
But Al Golden could have done things proactively to turn that stat around.
That's why I'll never understand why our linebackers weren't unleashed on Villanova. Blitz left, blitz right, blitz up the middle.
There is no doubt in my mind if the blitz was a big part of our defensive package, we would have been able to put Whitney down 10 times and not just five. We might have jarred a couple of balls loose in Villanova territory. We might have scored a defensive touchdown or two.
Every one of our linebackers is faster, significantly faster, than Villanova quarterback Chris Whitney. There is no doubt in my mind if the blitz was a big part of our defensive package, we would have been able to put Whitney down 10 times and not just five. We might have jarred a couple of balls loose in Villanova territory. We might have scored a defensive touchdown or two.
We WOULD have won the game. There's no doubt in my mind.
Put him on his ass, hit him enough times, and watch that turnover ratio and field position swing in our favor.
This is not second-guessing. It's first-guessing.
Page down to a post or two below.
There it is in bold typeface with a gold background posted prior to the game: TEMPLE'S NO. 1 PRIORITY SHOULD BE GETTING TO THE QUARTERBACK. I guess I didn't make that big or bold enough.
I was buttonholed by an older gentleman, I'll call him Joe, on the way out.
He was walking with another older gentleman.
The other guy told him, "Don't worry, Joe. We've got 11 games left to play."
Joe was inconsolable.
"I don't care about those other games. This is the game I wanted to win. You can have all the Akrons and Northern Illinois you want. This is the game I wanted. I'm not coming back."
"I hear you, bro," I said.
"Then you understand," Joe said, nodding his head vigorously. "You understand."
Joe isn't alone.
The sad truth is that you can lose to Penn State, go 10-2 and win the MAC and a good chunk of Philadelphia will say, "Yeah, but they couldn't beat Villanova. The MAC sucks. Who cares?"
I care, but I doubt anyone other than the die-hards care and that's why this loss was a program-killer in many ways.
We've already lost our house.
All we have left is the car.
Anyone want to roll the dice for double-or-nothing with Penn State?

Plenty of good seats now available:

8 comments:

meatgoat said...

Great job with the blog! OK, WTF waqs that quick kick about?!?!?!?!?! Holy moly we wait all summer to watch Temple pull that during the first quarter of the first game against a non-divisional opponenet?! You know what, I DIDN'T want to play Nova because I knew we would lose. We ALWAYS LOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's disgusting. You are wrong. Our LBs wouldn't catch that guy. They aren't fast. No one on this team is fast including our 4' tall CBs.11 frickin' years of watching a pile of puke fart around on a football field so I can fake excitement that they play in the MAC. Screw this program I'm done.

Temple Football Forever said...

Whitney runs a 5.1 40. Our linemen are roughly about as fast except for AR, who runs a 4.6 ....our linebackers run 4.6-4.4.9s. .. so the empirical evidence is there that blitzes would have put him down. Why didn't they blitz? Because Al Golden gets brain cramps.

dyanovitz said...

Hey, big night for Temple QB recruit Connor Reilly tonight here in DC. The senior at W.T. Woodson, who has committed to Temple, threw for 519 yards and 3 TDs to lead his team to a win over Lake Braddock. Will be great to get that arm on Broad St.

Temple Football Forever said...

Thanks. 519? Five-one-nine? Is that a typo? If not, spectacular. Heck, 319 would be spectacular and I assume it rained a little down there.

Bull-Run said...

TFF,

You hit the nail on the head on the post game comments.

Temple should have been wearing down VU's line throughout the game, and your linebackers should have been camped in VU's backfield...

I could see Nova keeping it close for a quarter or two but Temple has way more depth in the trenches, they just failed to use it.

Temple Football Forever said...

Thanks. I watched the Buffalo-Pitt game and I see the turnover bug bit UB. I hate seeing that because it masks how competitive those two teams could have been. At one point they put up a graphic:
Points off turnovers:
Pitt 20, UB 0.
Eek.

Bull-Run said...

It was hard to watch. I would not have minded if Pitt came in and pushed us around, they are a bigger team and a great D.

But to hand the game over time and time again killed me. I suppose Phil Steele was right when he said UB's turnover margin will even out this year (so far a -4).

I was impressed with Maynard, he seems to be the real deal. I think, as a fan, I came away from this loss feeling better than any loss from last season.

Temple Football Forever said...

Maynard doesn't mess around. He gets the ball and lets it go. He'll be a hard quarterback to put down. I loved that one play where he took the snap and found the tight end in less than a second. Got about 7 yards. That's almost impossible to defend. One of the TDs, to Jesse Rack, was delivered perfectly as well.