Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cosby beats Letterman, but punt protection team is the only joke

Owl fans sport wide smiles watching Bernard Pierce run.
Photos by Ryan Porter

"If that’s not the best defense, especially physically, we’ve played since I’ve been at Ball State, it’s right up there." _ Ball State head coach Stan Parrish
By Mike Gibson
Gotta give Stan Parrish some love.
He's not getting much in Muncie, Ind., these days, there's even a website.
Gotta give him some love for this quote today, though.
"If that's not the best defense, especially physically, we've played since I've been at Ball State, it's right up there," Parrish, the Ball State head coach said of Temple.
Temple beat Ball State on Saturday. A cynic would headline it: Cosby beats Letterman in Sexual Harassment Bowl on Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
I prefer to see it, though, as a flawed win for the Owls, a siren call for a tweek here and a tweek there to get this engine raady for the MAC race stretch run.
Even the Owls themselves hinted as much in their post-game remarks.
Consider these words by Owl linebacker Peanut Joseph.
"We have some goals, but we're nowhere close to them," the Owls' linebacker said after a 24-19 win over Ball State.
Nowhere but one small step. There are seven, maybe eight, more steps just like these.
Joseph is right.
Let's face it. The defense won this game. They deserve 11 game balls.
Then there's the flip side.
If the Owls keep playing like this on offense and special teams, they will be nowhere near close to getting those goals.
The good thing is that the problems are fixable.
Al Golden's To Do List:
1. Fix punt protection _ Tighten this up. It looks like the Owls don't even practice this stuff. Change the snapper, if necessary.
2. Fix the passing game _
Way too many plays are left on the field. Going to James Nixon only once a game is borderline criminal. Work Mike Gerardi or Chris Coyer in there one series per quarter, just to give them some experience in case Vaughn goes down and to change things up on offense. Don't worry about Coyer's redshirt. It's all hands on deck for this MAC championship. Whoever moves the team best, stays on the field.
3. Leave Mark D'Onofrio alone _ Coach D'Onofrio is certainly doing his job, which is to keep points off the board. The same cannot be said for special teams coach Al Golden or offensive coordinator Matt Rhule. Al should just say, "Hey, Mark, keep doing what you're doing, big guy. Nice blitz on that interception, by the way."
Temple hasn't shown in the past that it has trouble snapping or protecting.
Special teams coach Al Golden is going to have to put in a whole new scheme of punt protection, and maybe even a new snapper, in the next few days before the Army game.
Ball State evidently saw something in Temple's protection that dictated the Cardinals go after every punt.
That entire scheme must change because the Army coaches will see it, too.
One way to change it is not to have to punt at all.
Temple has to develop a viable passing game to complement Bernard "The Franchise" Pierce.
Pierce became the first freshman in Owl history to rush for over 100 yards in three straight games, getting a buck 25 and two touchdowns.
If the Owls can develop a passing game opponents respect, and it might include changing the passer or the receivers or both, look for Pierce to turn a few of those twisting and turning 8-, 9- and 10-yard runs into 70-yard touchdowns. This is a team with too many weapons to be scoring in the low 20s every game. Temple coaches must view the film and determine what the problem is and correct it. If it requires a change in scheme or a change in personnel, so be it. This is big-time college football and they should not be afraid to hurt anyone's feelings.
Winning ugly is still winning, but Saturday is Homecoming and a good Army team is coming to town before an expected Temple crowd of 25,000 plus.
Winning "beautiful" is the next goal and that means for all three phases to show up, not just the defense.
That would be the next step and it must be forward, not backward.