Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday's Temple Thoughts

Say What?!?

"I think they're going to come out and punch us in the mouth."

Here's the deal. I know Temple is not to be taken likely. I'm not an idiot. I know that Al Golden has done a relatively good job in recruiting (they ain't Rutgers yet, and their not even at Duke-status), and I know he's infused a new confidence and energy into the program. Yet, by the same token, I also know that Coach Johnson is an expert at getting his teams prepared to play and at filling his team's with the fear of God. This isn't the first time he or one of his player's have talked up an opponent, and it won't be the last.

But just how good is Temple, and is it all talk on Navy's part, or is there legitimate concern? This is the central question, but unfortunately there just is no easy answer, at least not at this point. The easiest way to put is that Temple has potential, but considering that hopes springs eternal, everyone has potential! You may have noticed that Mike Gibson over at Temple Football Forever answered some questions of mine the other day, and actually predicted a Temple upset of the Midshipmen. He's reasoning is simple. Since Temple has had the benefit of the entire offseason to gear up for this game, and since Golden and his staff have upped their recruiting, Temple is now in a favorable position to beat Navy come Friday. There is certainly validity in both of these points, but, as we've seen before, to get caught up within these arguments is to ignore this game from Navy's perspective.

Enter, Paul Johnson.

The one thing I love about Johnson is he let's other coaches and programs frame the game. He takes it one at time and always has his team focused come game day. While Al Golden has spent the last few weeks trying to talk his team up (as he rightly should) and instill within them a degree of winning confidence, Johnson has stayed mostly mum as far as a scouting reports go, and has adapted his same old same "we'll see" attitude. Johnson doesn't usually show his cards, but perhaps in a rare move of overt confidence, let slip this little number:

There will be some wrinkles, but I have a pretty good idea of what they are going to do and I'm sure they have a real good idea of what we are going to do. They seem to think they do anyway.

Maybe I'm interpreting this incorrectly, but I think Johnson may be sending a strong but subtle reminder that there are two sides to this game, and that he's done a little game planning of his own (duh, I know.) He also seems to be sending a message to the media that Temple's supposed advantage (that being the time of the offseason to gameplan) may not be as big as Temple's fans or players may think. When you think about it, this makes sense. Over the past several years Navy has played opponents in openers just as good, and in many cases better, than Temple, and still managed to score points on them despite the ability of that team to spend substantial time preparing for the option. The simple fact is that extra time helps, but only up to a point, as getting reps against the scout team can never fully equate to getting reps against the genuine article. Johnson, ever the confident coach he is, knows that just because a team thinks they have "pitch tendencies" down doesn't mean they are going to stop the offense. Every year teams claim to have dissected the offense, only to see Johnson make the proper adjustments to exploit their plans. Behold:

It doesn't matter how many they put in the box with what we do, the more the merrier.

This quote comes from the same presser, and comes after a question about putting the ball up if the defense stacks the line. This is a very encouraging quote because it confirms Johnson's belief that as long as the team executes, he and his offense can do whatever they want, whether it be through the air or on the ground.

That's why I'm not too worried about Temple. It's Paul Johnson's nature not to talk up his own team, and it's his nature not to unleash the full potential of his coaching genius until after the game has started. Yet even as he talks another team up, you can see the confidence he has in his system. The best way to describe it is when you know your opponent has a good hand, but underneath that poker face you know that you have something better. The only issue then becomes getting the most out of that hand, and using it in it's full capacity. Temple may come out swinging. They may even connect on a few jabs. But when it's all said and done, I look for a very disciplined and very focused Navy team to score the final knockout.


midwatchcowboy said...

I think the best example is the results he puts up on the first drive of the 3rd quarter.

Navy has scored on its first drive of the second half in 18 of the
last 24 games (.750), with 14 of the 18 scores resulting in a touchdown. - source Temple game notes.

Gary said...

If we can get up early by 2 TD`s this will be simple and done.
If they feel early that despite all their "hoopla" and words they still will get their butts kicked-its over.
That team will not have the intestinal fortitude to fight back if we start where we left off with them from last year.
In the meantime if for some reason we get out of the gate late and allow them to "hang in"- we will still win the game regardless.
By hanging in that means losing by only 21 points.......Temple style.
Navy 42-Temple 17.

phelix said...

Temple didn't spend 9 months getting ready for Navy, no matter what that guy says. It's not like they were gameplanning in April. Beating Navy might be a big motivator for them, but they haven't been getting ready for Navy any longer than Navy's been getting ready for them.

Adam said...

Agreed. I wouldn't think too much of it. If Navy was coming off a 1-11 season I'd probably try to find something positive going into the next year too.