Thursday, October 15, 2009

The word for Saturday: DEE-FENSE!

It's Homecoming, so weather be damned, show up and cheer.

Good for football, bad for tailgating.

By Mike Gibson
You can use a couple of words to describe Saturday.
Homecoming is one of them.
Luck is another one, as in bad luck because the Owls drew the short straw from the weatherman for their Homecoming Day game.
Rain and cold come to mind.
So does mud, if it rains enough.
So does the under, as in over/under, which is 39.
So while all of those words are descriptive ones, defense is the operative word on Saturday.
My 5 plays against an 8-man front guaranteed to move the ball:
1. Bernard Pierce left, right and up the middle _ Not on every down, mind you. If it's not working on first down, pass on second. Don't put yourself and 3d and longs.
2. The Chester Stewart Throwback Pass _ When Chester Stewart comes into the game, use his specialized talent to throw the ball deep to James Nixon, suckering that 8-man front up to him and leaving Nixon 40 yards open behind the defense.
3. Five, not one, cracks at Nixon _
All on play-action, all after significant gains by Bernard Pierce. That's when you sell play-action, not on 3d and longs. Throwing the deep ball only once a game to Nixon is borderline criminal. He's good for at least two touchdowns a game if you throw him 3 to 5 deep balls.
4. The jump pass to the tight end _ It works near the goal line, ala Chester Stewart to Steve Manieri last season at Miami. Fake to Pierce, jump pass to an open Manieri or an open Evan Rodriguez.
5. Screen passes to third-down back Kee-Ayre Griffin _ Give KAG some room to roam against the Army secondary and loosen up that eight-man front from time to time.

Defense, as in DEE-FENSE.
Both Army and Temple have good defenses and the one that dominates on Saturday will win the game.
Whatever advantage the Owls have with speed on the edges (James Nixon and Jason Harper in the passing game and Bernard Pierce in the running game) figures to be negated by the cold, windy and muddy conditions.
The latest forecast is for a high of 47 degrees with wind and light rain.
If the rain is light enough, then maybe the field conditions will be acceptable.
Maybe Bernard Pierce will finally be able to break that long run and show that world class speed of his in the 100-meter dash.
Whatever, I don't see the two teams combining for 39 points and I don't see anything outside of a 13-6, 14-7, 17-7 game.
I hope I'm wrong and the Owls break out and Vaughn Charlton finally hits more than his seemingly self-imposed quota of connecting on only one long bomb a game.
I hope the Owls win 44-11, but I don't see it.
This is one of those strap-it-in-games, with a high emphasis on ball security and good execution on things like punt protection that come as second nature to 99 percent of the Division I teams out there.
One external thing that would help the Owls is a whole bunch of their fans participating and yelling DEE-FENSE, DEE-FENSE, for a full three hours in real time.
That's the catchword for Saturday.
If you are a Temple fan and you sit on your hands and stay silent, you give away the homefield advantage and that might be the difference in the game. At the end of the year, if the Owls are at six wins and lose this game, this will be the difference between a bowl or no bowl so let's do all we can to win this one.
That means players, coaches AND fans.
Don't be afraid to get up and yell DEE-FENSE all day.
Unless Bernard Pierce and or Vaughn Charlton have the ball, of course.