When the Owls look across the line of scrimmage on Saturday, the Toledo team they see might be reminded of themselves.
Both offenses will face defensive units that utilize different personnel to run similar schemes. On the other side of the ball, both defenses will be run ragged by twin five-wide receiver spread offenses that are literally from the same playbook.
From 1997-1999, Temple offensive coordinator Dave Brock helped Toledo offensive coordinator Rob Spence direct the offense, when both were coaches at Hofstra. Brock, the wide receivers coach, inherited the offensive coordinator job when Spence left in 2000.
“We have their playbook,” Temple coach Bobby Wallace said. “And they’ve got ours.”
Neither team is really complaining, since both need to win to keep their seasons relevant. Both enter the game at 1-2, having each suffered crushing losses in the first two weeks before settling for a wins last weekend against a weaker squad. The Owls prevailed, 38-7, over Florida A&M at home. The Rockets beat Eastern Michigan, 42-32, in their third straight road game.
The Owls’ defense will need all the help it can get. It has surrendered an average of 440 yards per game and is being outscored 65-24 in the first half. The Toledo offense, which carried the Rockets to second place in the MAC last season, has averaged over 415 yards of total offense in its first three games.
Toledo’s defense has been less than stellar. Minnesota, Kansas, and Eastern Michigan managed an average of 581 yards of total offense against the Rockets. Minnesota topped 700 yards in its 63-21 blowout in Minneapolis.
“It’s kind of strengths against … weaknesses,” Wallace said. “Our offense is the strength of our team right now, and their offense is theirs. We’re both going against defenses that are struggling a little bit.”
BROWN BACK IN
Junior running back Tim Brown will be back in the starting lineup this Saturday for the Owls. Brown was sidelined last week with pain in both feet, but received treatment this week and will get the bulk of the carries against Toledo.
“He didn’t get his treatment when he should have, being a new kid [to Division I-A medical routine] and not understanding what he should do,” Wallace said. “He thought he could play through it, but come Saturday afternoon his feet were so swollen he couldn’t play.”
Junior Umar Ferguson took Brown’s place against FAMU and rushed for a career-high 118 yards on 25 carries. Quarterback Walter Washington also gained 119 yards on the ground.
It was the first time the Owls had two backs rush for more than 100 yards since 1997, when future NFL back Stacey Mack and Elmarko Jackson ran through the Rutgers’ defense in a 49-7 victory.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
In 1998, first-year coach Bobby Wallace and the Owls opened the season at the Glass Bowl at Toledo. The Rockets sent them home with a 24-12 loss. The two teams met again in 2001, after current coach Tom Amsutz took over the program, but the result was much the same. Toledo won, 33-7.
In 1962, the Owls were without one of their running backs in a 13-0 loss to Toledo.
Apparently, the player could not make the trip because of a Peter, Paul and Mary show taking place in Philadelphia the night before. In a career-breaking opportunity, he was scheduled to appear in the program, and when the athletic department informed him no accommodations could be made for him to attend both events, he decided to stay in Philadelphia and perform his stand-up comedy routine.
The running back’s name was Bill Cosby.
Ben Watanabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org