Friday, October 23, 2009

Toledo: Heart tells me win; gut tells me, err, win

The best pass defense is putting Opelt on his ass all night long.
By Mike Gibson
I got one of those campus-wides alerts from Temple University security the other day.
It warned students "not to get too rowdy" in their celebrations after big wins.
For a second, maybe even a minute, I thought they were talking about the Temple University football team's four-game winning streak and some anticipated poll-climbing by exhuberant students after win No. 5.
Then I thought about the Phillies.
Temple vs. Toledo
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: The Glass Bowl
Records: Temple 4-2, Toledo 4-3
Line: Toledo favored by 2 1/2
TV: MAC All-Access
Radio: WPHT-AM, 1210
Oh, never mind, I thought.
We've got a long way to go. I'd love to see Temple students identify with their fellow Temple students (playing for them, by the way) than with a group of 25 professionals playing for an entire region.
Maybe that's just me.
But it will take more than a four-game winning streak, or even a fiver, for that to happen.
The worse part is that I don't see a five-game winning streak in this team.
I've got this nasty feeling in my gut and have had it for a few days.
The streak ends at No. 4, I fear.
It's part gut (I've been taking Pepto-Bismol for it, but to no avail) and part based on these realities as I see them:

  • Despite having great receivers all over the place, we've not been able to develop a passing game anyone fears or has reason to fear for six games;
  • We went 0 for 9 on third downs in the final three quarters against an EMU team that got torched for 56 the next week. Not good. Not good at all.
  • We have tight ends lining up in the backfield, when they should be where Pop Warner designed them to be _ on the line of scrimmage;
  • We have no fullback, either to serve as a lead blocker for the tailback or to protect our quarterback on blindside blitzes. We need a fullback and that's painfully obvious.
  • We face a quarterback, Aaron Opelt, whose specialty is picking secondaries apart if he has time.
  • We have not shown the gonads to pressure the quarterback on every down. We play a more bend-but-don't-break defense that plays into the hands of quarterbacks who have time to throw. The best pass defense is putting the QB on his backside. You can't see open receivers if you are running for your life.
  • The best running back we've had since Paul Palmer is hurt. He may be cleared to play, but he's still hurt.

This could be a 35-20 Toledo win, unless Temple fixes a non-existent passing game or blitzes from the opening toss.
That's what my gut tells me.
Of course, my hope is that Vaughn Charlton throws for 350, four touchdowns, no picks and that Bernard Pierce plays and picks up his usual buck twenty-five.
My gut has been wrong before, as recently as a couple of days ago.
Jimmy Rollins came to the plate.
"Game's over," I told a crowded newsroom, mostly due to my gut but thinking a little reverse Black Cat. "I've never seen this guy come up with a real big clutch hit in the playoffs."
Next pitch, gapper.
Let's hope the Owls prove my gut wrong again.
Now excuse me while I take two more Pepto-Bismols.