‘Embarrassing’ debut for football defense

Geoff Collins’ defense allowed 422 rushing yards in his debut.

Senior defensive back Sean Chandler (center) forces Notre Dame junior running back Josh Adams (right) out of bounds in the Fighting Irish’s 49-16 win. | HOJUN YU / THE TEMPLE NEWS

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Coach Geoff Collins raised both of his arms in the air after Temple stopped the University of Notre Dame on fourth down in the third quarter.

But besides that stop, Collins didn’t have much to be excited about in his coaching debut at Temple after being blown out by the Fighting Irish, 49-16, at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday.

The Fighting Irish gashed Temple’s defense for 422 rushing yards and had three players who racked up more than 100 yards on the ground in their season opener.

“This loss hurts,” junior defensive back Delvon Randall said. “It was embarrassing to me, and I blame it on myself. I mean, I don’t really feel too different because we beat ourselves. It’s our fault.”

Collins and Randall each said the defense “missed fits,” meaning players hit the wrong gaps when they pursued the ball carrier.

Temple was replacing seven starters on defense, including three linebackers, and the team “missed fits” from the opening drive onward.

It only took Notre Dame 33 seconds to travel 70 yards and find the end zone on its opening drive. Fighting Irish junior running back Josh Adams bounced a carry to the left side for a 37-yard touchdown on the second play of the game. Adams led the Fighting Irish in rushing yards with 161 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

Junior running back Dexter Williams piled up 124 yards on six carries. Notre Dame averaged 9.6 yards per carry in its win.

Notre Dame junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush and Temple redshirt-sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi both made their starting debuts on Saturday.

Randall said Wimbush’s ability to scramble and make plays with his feet kept the Owls on their toes throughout the game. Wimbush rushed for 106 yards and completed 17-of-30 passing attempts for 184 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Temple vs. Notre Dame History
Year Location Result
2013 Notre Dame Stadium 28-6 Loss
2015 Lincoln Financial Field 24-20 Loss
2017 Notre Dame Stadium 49.16 Loss

Wimbush led three touchdown drives that took less than 75 seconds.

“So just on the rock backs, not fitting it exactly the way we wanted to and then against good players, it bounces, bounces and they’re able to hit the home run with it,” Collins said. “I didn’t think we tackled the way that we have all preseason, running our feet, grabbing cloth, all the things we preach.”

“There’s some times that once the game starts slipping away or once a big play starts happening, you start trying to make up for it by being too over aggressive and not rely on your fundamentals and technique and I thought that happened at times [on Saturday],” Collins added.

Sophomore linebackers Sam Franklin and Shaun Bradley and redshirt-freshman linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley all started for the first time on Saturday. Last season, the group mostly saw action on special teams.

All three players are making the transition to playing linebacker. Franklin and Graham-Mobley played defensive back in high school, while Bradley played defensive back and was a first-team all county running back at Rancocas Valley High School in New Jersey.

Throughout the preseason, the coaching staff touted Bradley as the leader of the young group of linebackers.

After accumulating seven tackles, Bradley is ready to move on from the loss against the Fighting Irish. He said some of the big rushing plays the Fighting Irish had can be attributed to him and the other linebackers getting used to the speed of Division I football.

“We had all new linebackers in there, so the speed of the game changed,”  Bradley said. “Getting to the gaps is a little different. I think once we fit the gaps and we do what we’re supposed to do and execute it, we made the play. But plays like that where we didn’t, missed fits, we were out of our gaps a little bit and it broke.”

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