There was an air of confidence surrounding the football team as it entered its second game of the season Saturday, against Buffalo. Sure, the Owls had lost their season-opener a week earlier, 30-19, to Navy, but they had scored 19 points, a feat they accomplished just three times in 2006.
The defense had also demonstrated the ability to adjust, holding Navy to two field goals in the second half. All this after a 1-11 season in which the Owls were outscored by 365 points.
In strolled Buffalo, to whom the Owls had lost to by six points in overtime last season. Temple had enjoyed a week to prepare, with positive vibes flowing.
Instead of capitalizing on the momentum, the Owls squandered the opportunity to own a .500 record for the first time since Sept. 5, 2002, ungracefully falling to the Bulls, 42-7. The Owls failed to gain a single rushing yard, collecting -36 yards on the ground, and 141 yards of total offense. Conversely, the Bulls accrued 414 yards of total offense, including 74 on the first play – a screen pass that yielded a touchdown. From that point on, the Owls couldn’t stop the bleeding.
The Owls need to seek a tourniquet and soon.Their jerseys changed. Their helmets changed. Their defense changed. Their conference changed. But through the first two games, their win total is equivalent to what it was at this point one year ago. Zero. Turning around an entire program isn’t easy. Rutgers experienced its growing pains before having its breakout year in Piscataway, N.J. West Virginia didn’t become a national contender overnight, either.Becoming a very good team doesn’t involve, as Golden said, a quick fix. It doesn’t happen with a potion or with the snap of a finger.
But with hints of a turnaround abounding and excitement beginning to buzz, losing by 35 points isn’t the way you want to handle business. As quickly as the Owls’ momentum came, it has disappeared.
Now, a 2-0 Connecticut team, which has scored 82 points in its two blowout victories, awaits the winless Owls. To avoid falling to 0-3 for the fourth time in five seasons, they must now rally themselves against the Huskies, the team that replaced them in the Big East Conference. The Owls’ stated goal has been to win the Mid-American Conference title. It’s a good thing they haven’t attached a time frame to that, because they’re in a hole right now. Their performance against the Bulls doesn’t lend a positive attitude to the situation.
It’s very hard to bounce back when most of the chips are down. When you don’t have a lot of chips to begin with, it can be a lot harder. The name “Mission Possible” was given to an endeavor to fill Lincoln Financial Field against Navy. The football
team would be wise to view its next game in a similar light. The mission is possible.
The Owls have shown flashes of explosiveness on offense. Dynamic playmakers Travis Shelton and Daryl Robinson can break the big play at any point – if the offensive line gives the play enough time to develop. The Owls are adjusting to the new defensive alignment.
Freshman Amara Kamara has totaled 18 stops in his first two collegiate games. The defense played tight in the second half versus Navy. The ability is there, but the focus must be there for the entire four quarters.
That focus wasn’t there against Buffalo. Now that momentum isn’t there anymore, either.
Terrance McNeil can be reached at email@example.com.