Simple as that. They are. Neither played a perfect game, performing up to their full potential. But they both played well, and the evidence was obvious – not only in the final score, but in everything else. Seriously, a team outgains its opposition by 170 yards or more, it should win. Cincinnati is still shaking its head trying to figure out how the Owls escaped its building with a “W” almost two months ago after the Bearcats blitzed them for close to 300 more yards. Frankly, the rope-a-dopish strategy was bound to backfire, or get Temple in such a spot that it couldn’t recover, and it finally did. No shame in losing to the No. 9 team in the country. Frustrating for sure, of course. Owls did lead 20-17 after Austin Jones’ 36-yard FG with 4:45 remaining. Against lesser teams that likely would have spelled victory. Against ND, it wasn’t.
2. Gotta get away from '5' being the crutch
Just like the playing possum was a dangerous game, relying so, sooo much on RB Jahad Thomas and his nifty, ever-shifty 185-pound frame to shoulder the offensive load week in and week out has its drawbacks – either in terms of production, health or fumbles. Temple avoided disaster in the past when any of those issues popped up with the overuse of Thomas, but, frankly, his production and health did fall off against the Irish and that cost the Owls. They have too many other weapons than to be stuck with him as always the answer whenever the question pops up, “who can make a play for us,” and, worse, even when it doesn’t. His backup, Ryquell Armstead, is a tremendous talent. So, too, is Owls QB P.J. Walker. Start utilizing their skill sets more. Just give the crutch a rest sometimes, and do it.
3. Needed more from T-Mat
As great a player as he is, and as well as he performed against the Irish, Owls senior LB Tyler Matakevich had to put up insane numbers to make an upset more than just a pie-in-the-sky afterthought. Oh, 13 tackles and an interception are nothing to sneeze, and certainly should lock up first-team All-American for the best defender in the country now four years running yet to be truly recognized for his play. But that wasn’t going to be enough to carry the D past the Irish. He, truly, had to be Superman in this one, registering more along the lines of 20 tackles, a couple sacks and a pair of turnovers – all of which he is capable of doing, even against a ranked opponent – and not let anything such as QB DeShone Kizer’s 79-yard TD scamper occur for ND.
4. Speaking of the KO kid, Kizer
Looks like Owls defensive coordinator may have overstepped it a bit in emphasizing contain on Irish RB C.J. Prosise and forcing Kizer to beat Temple. Umm, basically, the former backup to now-injured Malik Zaire did just that, with his arm (299 yards passing) and legs (143 yards rushing), factoring in all three Irish TDs. Not only did he bust out that long score, embarrassing the Owls’ secondary in the process with his speed, he ran in from 4 yards out earlier and delivered the game-winning 17-yard TD strike to Philly native Will Turner with 2:09 left. All more than offset the two picks he surrendered to the Owls in the red zone.
5. Go for it
Never would have attempted that FG with less than five minutes to go. Tied at 17 and facing fourth-and-two at the ND 19, obviously the “book” says you go for the points right there. But yours truly wouldn’t have done it. No way. No how. Not in that situation, with the Owls having converted a fourth-and-goal on their prior possession and the playbook opening up to showcase Walker’s wheels earlier on the current one right then. Thing is, for me, the game is as much about momentum and feel as it is the “book.” Temple converts there, it keeps the ball, burns much more clock and either scores a TD or FG with far less time remaining. If it doesn’t, sure, its fate would be preordained, just as it was with leaving 275 seconds for ND to erase a 3-point margin.
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org