Adventures in Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Land: Temple vs. Houston

A former Temple football player reflects on the Owls’ performance from their road win against Houston on Saturday.

Lots of play-action on first down, QB keepers and mostly pinpoint passing kept Houston off balance. It was an aggressive Temple football team that immediately took charge against a very good Houston team. 

Quickly, the coaching staff found that Houston’s Achilles heel was their missing all-American defensive tackle, Ed Oliver. Ryquell Armstead went to work amassing 210 yards on 30 rushes behind outstanding blocking. Oh, I almost forgot, he scored six touchdowns, too. Along the way, Ventell Bryant broke the Temple all-time receiving record and now has 2,319 yards. 

Defensively, we contained the explosive Houston offense pretty well. Blitzes from the get-go, a blocked punt and an assertive man-to-man pass coverage kept award-winning Houston quarterback D’Eriq King as under control as possible. With 10 minutes, 22 seconds left in the game, we had a three-touchdown lead and it was time to relax, right? Not on your life.  

In previous weeks, we had great coaching for 30 minutes, last week for 45 minutes and last night for 50 minutes. We’re improving. Don’t get me wrong, it was a marvelous win — one that should get us some top-25 votes. If we win out, there’s a possibility we could end the season ranked. (It’s a hell of a long way from when I thought we might not win a game after losing to Buffalo and Villanova.) 

So there are 10 minutes left against Houston, and we’re up 21 points. On offense, there’s a dilemma. Do we run the ball and the clock, or do we maintain our aggressive play calling and do some play-action on first down? Well, we did throw some, but it was our run calls that got too conservative. They were mostly just straight down Broad Street, and then we’re giving the ball right back to Houston. 

But it’s the defense I totally didn’t understand. Why in the world were we still playing man-to-man pass coverage? Our pass defenders were dog tired, and we lost one of our best to a dubious targeting call. (The penalties mostly evened out, though.) In that situation, we should be rushing four and playing various protective zones with the other seven guys, and there should always be a deep safety, last-resort guy. Instead, we got beat for two cheap touchdowns on 30-some yard passes. They should have been held to short-yardage gains, which would have exhausted the clock. 

Three other things as I nitpick. We still cover three wideouts with two pass defenders and a half of a linebacker who cheats that way. If I was throwing against that alignment, I’d go down the field with 10-yard passes. (Don’t let South Florida see this write up.) Our coverage on the onside kick was terrible, and we wasted timeouts on a field goal, punt and kickoff. (I’m so glad we didn’t need them.) 

However, we’re 6-4, with a chance to go 8-4. The growth of this team has been remarkable and noticed by everyone connected to college football. Tally-Ho! 

Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub is a 1961 Temple football player. He lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He can be reached at

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