Best QB Prospect in Pa.? He’s Going to Play in Philly

A great quarterback prospect is like the famous Potter Stewart quote about pornography: “It’s hard to define, but I know it when I see it” he said in the case of Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964.

The Supreme Court Justice went to Yale, so he was around when Brian Dowling was throwing around the pigskin for the Bulldogs. Being a smart man, he probably also know great quarterbacking when he sees it. So do most of us. I knew Adam DiMichele had “it” the first game I saw him in a Temple uniform. I also knew whatever Chester Stewart had wasn’t it in his first game, a 7-3 loss to Western Michigan on a dreadful day at Lincoln Financial Field.

Ben DiNucci after winning WPIAL Class AAAA championship for Pine-Richland.

Ben DiNucci after winning WPIAL Class AAAA championship for Pine-Richland.

Trust me on this one: Pine-Richland’s Ben DiNucci has “it.” He will go down as the most productive quarterback of the next four years on the college level Pennsylvania, too, including whomever Temple, Pitt or Penn State recruit. The 6-3, 190-pound Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year became the first Pennsylvania player to throw for more than 4,000 yards, setting a PIAA record for single-season passing with 4,269. DiNucci was 32 of 46 for 383 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-41 loss to St. Joseph’s Prep in the Class AAAA title game Saturday night. DiNucci also set a PIAA playoff record with his 32 completions and a championship game record with 383 yards passing. His four touchdown passes tied Berwick’s Ron Powlus (1992) for the most in a championship game.

More than all of those records, though, he possesses the elusive “it” factor in quarterbacks that make or break coaches. Forget that he wasn’t offered by the big schools. Big schools often miss big players. Ask Marty Ginestra. Or Henry Burris. Or Brian Broomell. Or Matty Baker. Or Tim Riordan. DiNucci falls into the category of a very good quarterback who can be very productive for Temple.

Some people have a better “it” radar than others. Al Golden’s Achilles’ heel was not having a good quarterback GPS installed (he inherited ADM from Bobby Wallace). To borrow a Potter (not Chester)  Stewart term, the jury is still out on Matt Rhule’s quarterback radar.

Trust me with this one, though: Ben DiNucci will be a great college quarterback at any level and the good news that he has chosen to play his college football in Philadelphia. The bad news is that it will be at Penn.

DiMichele currently is spending the weekend recruiting in the Pittsburgh area. If he’s smart, he would swing by Pine-Richland to investigate the level of interest DiNucci has playing the game at its highest level in the same city for Temple. If Temple is smart, it would offer him a scholarship now.

Temple’s Hype Machine Needs to Get Grinding Now

Owls need to get Tyler (8) and Kyle's (79) name out there now and let their play do the rest in 2015.

Owls need to get Tyler (8) and Kyle’s (79) name out there now and let their play do the rest in 2015.

There can be little doubt that Tyler Matakevich and Kyle Friend will be the two best players on the 2015 version of the Temple Owls. Heck, they were this past season.

Temple promotions hit a home run with this comic book since it was written about all over the country.

Temple promotions hit a home run with this comic book since it was written about all over the country.

Today’s release of the All-American team was a perfect illustration of why both guys need to be heavily promoted for the Rimington and Bednarik Awards for the nation’s best center and linebacker, respectively.

You cannot tell me that there are nine linebackers in the country better than the Owls’ Tyler Matakevich or nine centers better than his teammate, Kyle Friend, who manhandled a first-round NFL draft choice from Notre Dame two seasons ago. Yet that is precisely what the Associated Press’ All-American team release was telling me today.

Active career tackle leaders in all divisions. Source: NCAA

Active career tackle leaders in all divisions.
Source: NCAA

Heavily promoting both for the nation’s top award at those positions would help solve that problem. Temple did the same in 1986 for Paul Palmer, when it came up with a clever comic book idea that promoted Boo-Boo for the Heisman Trophy. He did not win it, coming as close as possible—losing to Miami’s Vinny Testaverde and ahead of such luminaries as Oklahoma’s Brian Bosworth and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh.

The Owls’ promotion department—not the sports information arm led by Al Shrier–mailed the comic book to all 1,056 of the Heisman voters at the time and, since many of the Heisman voters were members of the national press corps, a few of them took the time to write a column about it and Palmer’s name was out there in places it would have not normally been.

One mile from history but  1,000 miles from making a national impact is how this BP I-95 billboard campaign failed.

One mile from history but 1,000 miles from making a national impact is how this BP I-95 billboard campaign failed.

The Owls’ mounted a half-hearted campaign to get Bernard Pierce the Heisman, but put it up only on billboards in the Philadelphia area and it drew little notice across the country.

Shoot for the top and settle for something less or shoot for the top and get to the top. It’s up to Temple now. They have the ball and a chance to score big now. Let’s hope they don’t use three wides and ignore the running game here, too.

The Owls’ 2014 running game might have been a joke, but copying the comic book idea for these two guys would not be.

Season Review: Square Pegs Into Round Holes

Fortunately, not one of the 27 helmets Temple currently uses. With 2 games left, a Utah website predicted this bowl matchup.

Fortunately, not one of the 27 helmets Temple currently uses. With 2 games left, a Utah website predicted this bowl matchup.

Watching Dunmore of the Scranton area play in the state championship game today was a reminder of how Temple could have schemed its way into the wins it needed to assure itself of a bowl bid.

Dunmore ran the kind of offense that perfectly suited Temple personnel all season: Two backs, tailback running behind the fullback and play-action off a max protect scheme for the quarterback. It doesn’t matter that Dunmore lost, because Dunmore got the most of its personnel using that system.

These numbers would have been much better with a blocking fullback and play-action approach. Twelve games of 3-4 wides will lead to these kind of unacceptable numbers.

These numbers would have been much better with a blocking fullback and play-action approach. Twelve games of 3-4 wides will lead to these kind of unacceptable numbers.

Temple did not.

It’s a simple principle: Coach to the players you have, not the ones you want to get. It seemed like all year the Owls were running formations for the kind of guys they want to recruit, not the guys they had in the building.

The Owls had a potentially great tailback in Jahad Thomas, but he disappeared after gaining 157 yards from scrimmage in the Tulsa game. He also appeared sparingly after that, partly because the coaching staff did not have a whole lot of confidence in the offensive line, but mostly because the coaching staff refused to use two of the best blockers they had —Marc Tyson and Kenny Harper—who could have helped open some holes for Thomas with lead blocks.

Ask Paul Palmer what Shelley Poole meant for him as a lead blocker. Ask Montel Harris what Kenny Harper did for him as a lead blocker.  Ask Bernard Pierce what Wyatt Benson did for him as a lead blocker. Ask Tanardo Sharps what Harold Jackson did for him as a lead blocker. Ask Kevin Duckett what Mark Bright did for him as a lead blocker.

All of them will say that one lead block was just as responsible for any big gain as was the entire offensive line.

Thomas never had a chance to answer that question because the coaches never tried the concept.

A lead block opens up the running game and a good running game opens up a play-action passing game. This season was 12 games of Temple running three and four receiver sets, even splitting the tight end when he could be better used to jump-start the running game. Twelve games of trying to force square pegs into round holes.

As a result, this ass-backwards’ approach to offense killed Temple’s chances of winning a couple more games (Navy, Memphis and Cincinnati come to mind) that would have given Temple fans a nice trip to the Bahamas.

If the coaching staff learns something from this experience, it might be worth it. If not, they will be banging their heads against the wall for another 12 games next season.

Recruiting Season Begins This Weekend

Logan Marchi’s style reminds me of a one-time Texas A&M quarterback.

There are three seasons in college football, the real one in the fall, spring practice and recruiting season.

At Temple, without a bowl, the Owls are in recruiting season in earnest. A few Owls are set to visit today and this weekend including a couple of guys from Timber Creek, lineman Greg Webb and defensive back Kareem Ali.

Then there is the story of Connecticut quarterback Logan Marchi. He is here to visit and sign or both, but the headline writer and story writer for 247.com sports were really confusing on this one. One says Logan will sign; the other says he will visit.

Visit or sign? Headline says one thing; first sentence in story says another.

Visit or sign? Headline says one thing; first sentence in story says another.

I guess we will know for sure by Dec. 17, the early signing date.

One thing that is for sure is that the Owls could sure use him. While he probably will not unseat P.J. Walker as the Owls’ starting quarterback in the fall, there is a good chance for significant playing time because he has more mobility than the other quarterback the Owls brought in last year, Frank Nutile. Anyone who has seen the Owls’ offensive line this past season knows mobility is a must.

Nevada OC Nick Rolovich checking in? We can only hope.

Nevada OC Nick Rolovich checking in? We can only hope.

Since the Owls need more protection for the quarterback than they have given him, on the wish list should be a blocking fullback to provide additional dropback protection. Both Kenny Harper and Marc Tyson will graduate, so maybe the Owls can get that type of player out of the JUCO ranks.

Then they will have to commit to using him or risk seeing whoever plays that position running for his life next year.

This Should Be Temple

Central Michigan gets to do this over Temple? Thanks, Aresco. 

There is a photo of AAC commissioner Mike Aresco flipping a coin while the toss is called at a Temple football game. There could be no more perfect vision of what happened to Temple’s slim bowl hopes than that image.

Aresco essentially tossed away Temple’s only hope at a bowl for a little coin when he sold the AAC ‘s sixth and final bowl tie-in to CUSA back in April. The sale dropped the AAC’s bowl tie-in number from six to five and almost assured that a bowl qualifier from outside the conference’s top five would stay at home. Because of that, Temple head coach Matt Rhule had to know there was not a bowl game on the line before his team hit the field in what turned out to be a 10-3 win at Tulane on Saturday night. From the way Rhule talked on Sunday night, though, he sounded like he was shocked the 6-6 Owls were not picked.

He should not have been.

Mike Aresco, AAC commissioner, selling away Temple's bid for no more than a couple of coins.

Mike Aresco, AAC commissioner, selling away Temple’s bid for no more than a couple of coins.

Temple’s bowl chances were dashed the day Aresco sold the rights to the conference’s sixth bowl tie-in, the Bahamas Bowl, to CUSA. It was a monumental blunder.

Temple’s major reason for leaving the MAC was getting more opportunities for a bowl, and now the conference they land in sells a bowl where Temple would have appeared and one of those teams, Central Michigan, is a MAC school.

Any Temple fans up for a couple of winter days in the Bahamas? Sorry, we sold that bowl. The AAC should have known it was better to have too many bowl tie-ins than too few. It was a hard lesson for the young AAC to learn, and the biggest victims of that decision were the Temple players who will be lifting weights when they should be lifting playbooks.