Temple's Game Plan Against UCLA Should Boil Down to One Word: Blitz
Somewhere between getting a prolonged standing ovation at the Temple-Villanova basketball game (pictured) and now, the Temple football Owls stopped to visit the Philadelphia Eagles for a couple of days last week.
At the invitation of the Eagles and Andy Reid, the Owls used the Eagles' state-of-the-art indoor facility to get away from the inclement weather.
"The Eagles were good enough to let us do that," Temple head coach Al Golden said, making sure he thanked his fellow Lincoln Financial Field tenant.
Hopefully, defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio rifled through Eagles' defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's drawers on the way out and stole the book that the late Jim Johnson wrote on blitzing.
If the Owls are serious about winning and not just making a good showing on Dec. 29 in the EagleBank Bowl, they will blitz UCLA from the opening introductions until the final seconds tick off.
UCLA has a very capable quarterback, freshman Kevin Prince, who is battling a shoulder injury right now.
Go get him and put him down hard and often.
Bring violence to the football.
People who read this blog know my philosophy of defensive football is a mind meld of Johnson's.
If you can't get to the quarterback with four, send five. If you can't get to him with six, send seven. If you can't get to him with seven, send eight.
Blitz early and often to send a message to UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow that the Owls are not content to remain in a base defense and get picked apart like they did against good quarterbacks from Villanova, Miami, and Ohio.
Surely Chow, a smart guy, will be dissecting Temple film and come to the conclusion that the Owls like to sit back in coverage rather than come after the quarterback.
What he won't see is a whole lot of blitzing.
Even though rush end Adrian Robinson leads the MAC in sacks, he'll need all the help he can get against UCLA.
I'll stop only at sending eight, because I believe the back group that includes Jacquain Jarrett, Dominique Harris, Marquis Liverpool, and Kee-Ayre Griffin has the talent to keep anything that breaks in front of them.
I believe a blitzing scheme is perfectly suited to the personnel Temple currently employs on defense.
The Owls have terrific run-stopping linebackers in Peanut Joseph, Alex Joseph, and John Haley specifically. But those guys also have the speed and the nastiness necessary in chasing down a quarterback and either making the tackle, stripping the ball, or forcing an interception.
They are not great at pass coverage, so why not sic these dogs on the quarterback instead?
That's what I'm talking about, Willis.
Hopefully, D'Onofrio smells meat and goes in for the kill on Prince, changing the Owls' scheme to where nine guys line up at scrimmage and either fake the blitz or go for the kill on every passing down.
I vote for going for the kill.
Think about it.
Over your years of watching football, what decides games more than any other factor?
You can hope the other team fumbles or throws the ball between the two numbers on your jerseys or you can force them to do it.
Nothing puts fear in a quarterback's eyes and the ball up for grabs more than a collapsing pocket.
Nothing collapses the pocket like a blitz.
"I've tried (throwing) but I'm not at the stage where it's really comfortable," Prince said.
The whole idea is making Prince feel uncomfortable. His stats are the best of any UCLA quarterback (157 completions in 277 attempts for 1,827 yards, six touchdowns, and seven interceptions). There's a huge drop-off in his backup, Kevin Craft (60 for 107 for 722 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions).
The game plan shouldn't be that complicated to develop and put into practice the next couple of weeks.
It's one word.
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