Football Stadium Protesters Misguided

 

How cool would it be for one of these to show up at the next protest?

There aren’t many great sports fantasies left out there but, if I had one, the next time the Stadium Stompers had a rally against the proposed new stadium at Temple, a wicked dust devil would descend upon the crowd and all of the “No Stadium” signs would be blown away.

In the above video, you can see a cow mascot pretty much oblivious to everything. I do not know if the Stadium Stompers have a mascot, but I would suggest a horse’s ass because that’s how oblivious they have been to the facts surrounding the stadium.

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From the FAQ section of the Stadium  Stompers’ website. Since the new stadium “takes over” only Geasey Field, which Temple has had for the past 40 years, the word “more” is invalid. Wonder where these people were when Temple built the SAC, Morgan Hall and the Library? All are similarly inside campus-owned property.

Facts are pesky things and they often get in the way of emotions, but the stompers do not have much off a point.  They seem to have two main objections to the stadium. One is that the university will infringe on lands beyond its campus and another concern is that the money used for a stadium can be used on other projects, like a health clinic.  “No New Stadium” signs are popping all over campus even though polls by both the student newspaper and television station demonstrated overwhelming support for a stadium from the student body as a whole.

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Got to wonder what  their problem is when the stadium will be entirely within the campus. That “students say no” sign is incorrect. Every single survey of students show widespread support of a new stadium.

When those two points are easily debunked—the land for a stadium exists entirely on the site of a turf complex, Geasey Field, all entirely inside the campus—the protesters do not want to hear it. Since the money for the stadium will be entirely raised by private donations from stadium supporters, that objection is also unfounded.  Imagine Temple fund-raisers going to deep-pocketed donors and saying, “Sorry, change of plans. You know that $15 million donation you gave to a stadium? Can we use that for a health clinic instead?” Phones would be hanging up all over the Philadelphia area. It’s not an either/or proposition; the money will go to a stadium or there would be no money. At least that’s the way things are supposed to work in a free marketplace. Big donors will give big money to projects they support and, generally speaking, it is easier to raise money for a stadium than a health clinic.

When Temple head coach Matt Rhule was wooed by Missouri at the end of last year, the university convinced him to stay with a hefty pay raise and a commitment to “improved facilities” and that meant a stadium.  The new contract did not say anything about improved facilities unless a lot of protesters objected.

This is what Temple will have to deal with until a stadium is built and probably beyond, but while protesters might have an issue they feel is worthwhile, sometimes a little research would save both shoe leather and needless stress.

Sunday: Draft Aftermath For Temple

Frank Nutile: Only One Play Away

Hopefully, the Owls can get Frank some mop-up duty in a 49-14 win at Penn State.

On the list of things a head coach has to worry about between the time that spring football ends and summer camp begins is backup quarterback but when the subject is Temple football and the head coach is Matt Rhule that item has to be thumbtacked at the top of the list.

It appears as though Frank Nutile, a former star at Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey, has won the job but that should not stop Rhule from biting his fingernails until August. Nutile clearly looked better than the other backup hopeful, Logan Marchi, but facts are facts and the facts are that neither quarterback has any experience to speak of playing in a real game.

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Frank on his signing day.

The stats show Nutile (pronounced NEW TILE) completed one pass for four yards in a 49-14 win over visiting Tulane. Since it was a rollout designed to get him away from pressure, there was not much to tell from that appearance. More telling was the fact that the coaching staff kept starter P.J. Walker in for 99.9 percent of the other plays in a 14-game season, an indication that the staff was addicted to the comfort level a four-year starter like Walker provides.  Remember, Walker played four games with a separated left shoulder and that would not have been possible had the cheap shot hit in the PSU game come on his right shoulder.

Walker has been someone the Owls could count on the last four years but that, like everything in college football, is subject to change.

The Owls are going to have to wean themselves off that formula this year and one way is for the staff to work more playing time in for Nutile in the opener against Army and the second game against Stony Brook. If things go as expected, the Owls should have a comfortable lead in the first game and a larger one than that in the second game, and having a guy like Nutile shake off the rust in those games can only increase the comfort level in later ones.

The closest the Owls could get to real football was the spring game when redshirt sophomore Nutile threw a touchdown pass. It should have been enough to get him some more time in the fall. If not, the Owls will be forced to burn the redshirt of three-star recruit Anthony Russo and they do not want to do that.

If they have to, though, they should and they will.

Friday: Stadium Stompers and Dust Devils

Sunday: What The NFL Draft Means for Temple

 

 

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While Thursday is a big day for the first- and second-round NFL draft choices, there are no bigger days for Temple football than Friday and Saturday. On those days, up to five Owls could be and likely will be drafted in rounds two through seven, making it easily the biggest day in terms of the school’s relationship with the NFL. While Temple boasts of the only player in league history to make All-Pro at three positions, Joe Klecko of the New York Jets, and numerous players with Super Bowl rings, the Owls have never had five players drafted in the same year. Here are the five likely picks and their likely landing spots.

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5. ROBBY ANDERSON, GREEN BAY PACKERS

Playing against a consensus No. 1 NFL draft pick in Houston’s William Jackson, Anderson had 12 catches for 150 yards in the AAC championship game. Anderson helped himself by running a 4.37 40-yard dash at Temple’s Pro Day. The Packers are interested.

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4. KYLE FRIEND, NEW YORK JETS
The Jets have had tremendous luck with Temple players in the past, from All-Pro defensive lineman Joe Klecko through Muhammad Wilkerson. Coach Todd Bowles is another Temple grad, who should be able to pick up Friend, a center, in the sixth round.

3. TAVON YOUNG, PITTSBURGH STEELERS
When the Steelers allowed corner Brandon Boykin to sign with the Carolina Panthers, that left a glaring need for a less expensive option. Young has a similar skillset and should be available as a fifth pick.

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2. MATT IOANNIDIS, CLEVELAND BROWNS
The Browns have a need for a lockdown run-stopper and the 6-foot-3, 303-pound Ioannidis certainly is that. He is also a better-than-average pass rusher who the Browns would be wise to pick up by the fourth round.

1. TYLER MATAKEVICH, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

New England head coach Bill Belichick is a disciple of former Temple coach Wayne Hardin, both big believers in film over combine measurables. Matakevich, the national defensive player of the year, has film and should go no lower than the third round.

Penn State’s Spring Game Raises Questions

 

The best thing about this game was the crowd.

When one team wins a spring game 37-0, you know the coaches just are not paying attention so wherever James Franklin’s mind is (maybe the pros), it has to be good news for the third Temple football game of the season.

It certainly is not on the kind of detail you need to choose competitive sides in a spring game. That’s a bad job of picking teams by Franklin or whomever he gave that job to and probably a wasted day of preparation for the Nittany Lions. Kids playing pickup basketball across the street from Beaver Stadium probably picked better sides than Franklin did.

That’s Penn State’s problem, though.

(The biggest blowout we could ever find in a Temple spring game came in 2001, when the White beat the Cherry, 36-0. No surprise that Bobby Wallace was the head coach. Most of the games in the last eight years have been competitive.)

The big player for the Lions was Blue quarterback Trace McSorley, who will have to replace NFL-bound Christian Hackenberg. He hit 18-of-19 passes in the first half against a squad that obviously had bottom-end, for Penn State, talent. Penn State’s defensive line lost players like Anthony Zettel, Austin Johnson and Carl Nassib so it is not going to be at the level it was even a year ago when Jahad Thomas ran for 135 yards against them. If Ryquell Armstead or Jager Gardner are good enough to wrest the starting tailback job from Thomas and Thomas goes to the slot, there will not be enough PSU defenders to cover the weapons the Owls will have at their disposal.

Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead (from Fordham) will bring a faced-paced tempo this season, but the Owls are used to seeing that in the AAC. Other stars among possible Temple opponents this season.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Florida State v Houston

Isaiah Johnson

Houston’s Isaiah Johnson

Johnson, a sophomore, caught all three touchdowns from quarterback Greg Ward in the Cougars’ spring game and it appears the two have developed a special chemistry. Those were just three of the 15 balls Johnson caught in the spring game, totaling 292 yards. His touchdowns covered 48, 51 and 90 yards. Fortunately, Houston will not be an opponent of the Owls until the championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. At least that has to be the plan.

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Navy’s Tago Smith

If Houston isn’t an Owl foe in the title game, Navy could be. Certainly the most unusual first name in the league, it will fall to Smith to replace the NCAA’s all-time rushing touchdown leader, Keenan Reynolds, who many thought should have own the 2015 Heisman. Fortunately for Midshipmen fans, Smith looked good all spring and runs a 4.4-40-yard dash—a full tenth of a second faster than Reynolds.

Connecticut at Temple

Javon Hadley

UConn’s Javon Hadley

Hadley is one of three starters returning from an already strong Huskies’ secondary. The Huskies were 12th in the nation in interceptions last year and Hadley, a corner, picked off one in the spring game.  He also led all Huskies’ defenders with nine tackles.

South Florida’s Quinton Flowers

Playing at the school’s soccer complex, quarterback Flowers led the White team to a 32-19 win over tailback Marlon Mack’s Green team. Flowers, an equal threat to run or pass, had his team out to a 17-0 lead on three flawless drives.

Monday: 5 Temple Players Who Will Be Drafted

Black Helmets and Dual Threats

Only Cherry and White helmets here and it should remain that way.

Somebody up there must not like black helmets on Temple football players.

What happened against USF—a 44-23 stunner—was just another reminder that nothing good happens when Temple football players wear black helmets. From the loss to Navy in 90-degree temperatures in 2014 and last year’s USF disaster and even some awful play against winless UCF, black helmets and Temple football do not mix. It’s just bad Karma. Temple is blessed with two great colors, Cherry and White, and the Owls should count those blessings. Counting to two should not be that hard.

Quinton Flowers, South Florida football,

Quinton Flowers

Putting the black helmets away should be the first thing on the 2016 Unfinished Business agenda, and the easiest. The next thing could be the biggest key: stopping dual-threat quarterbacks.

For all of the talk about position changes, recruiting and surprises coming out of Temple football’s 2016 spring camp, the real key for the Owls this season will be stopping Greg Ward and Quinton Flowers.

South Florida’s Flowers is on the regular-season home schedule and Houston’s Ward could play against the Owls in the AAC championship game and they better devise a method for stopping them or their expectations of a great season could be dashed. Quite likely, the Owls will have to beat Flowers to get to Ward, so today is not too early to devising a plan to stop one to get to the other.

Flowers posted 320 total yards, passing for 230 and running for 90 with three total TDs (two passing, one rushing) in the Bulls’ 44-23 win over Temple in November. Those numbers were unacceptable because the Owls insisted on playing their base defense against Flowers with no tweaks designed to slow him down. That was pretty much their approach in two other losses to dual-threat quarterbacks. The Owls lost four games a year ago and three of them were to dual-threat quarterbacks—Flowers, Ward and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. The other loss was to a conventional drop back quarterback with functional mobility, Toledo’s Phillip Ely.

So what happens in the defensive war room at the team’s practice facility between now and the start of the season is just as important as any personnel developments along the way. Defensive coordinator Phil Snow could have tipped his hand this spring that help is on the way when he moved his best cornerback, Sean Chandler, to safety. Having the speedy and sure-tackling Chandler spy Flowers could cause USF problems because Flowers won’t have the time to see the field and make plays.

At least that should be the plan. Executing it will go a long way toward unlocking a great season for Temple.

Saturday: Opponents Spring Games

Monday: 5 Temple Players Who Will Be Drafted

Wednesday: One Play Away

Friday: Millennials and Dust Devils

5 Things Learned From Spring Practice

Connecticut v Temple

Sharif Finch #56, Tavon Young #1, Jahad Thomas #5, and Dion Dawkins #66 of the Temple Owls celebrate with the American Conference East Division trophy. Most of the guys in this photo return.  (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The outside perception of Temple football is that the Owls lost so much senior leadership that they cannot possibly repeat as AAC East champions, let alone contend for the title.

Temple fans know differently, though, because the tradition of single-digit numbers dictates the Owls have plenty of battle-tested leadership returning. Teammates vote single digits to the nine toughest players on the team and five of those single-digit players from last year are returning this season. That’s a solid enough foundation of both leadership and toughness returning for the Owls to make a significant run at the overall title.

Other than the bombshell of three-year starting receiver Romond Deloatch being switched to defense, the Owls had a number of surprising developments coming out of the annual Cherry and White game on Saturday. These five stood out most for head coach Matt Rhule’s team.

Connecticut v Temple

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

5. Jahad Thomas Could Be Switched To Slot

Thomas was named first-team All-AAC tailback with 17 rushing touchdowns and 1,287 rushing yards, but all six of his 100-yard games were in the first half of the season. To maximize his game-breaking talent and preserve his body, Rhule said Thomas could be split out and used as a slot receiver.

Temple v SMU

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

4. Ryquell Armstead Leads Tailback War

The war for starting tailback appears to be won by sophomore Ryquell Armstead, whose experience as a high school track star—he ran a New Jersey state-best 10.8 in the 100 meters as a senior—makes him a home run threat. Do not sell another sophomore, Jager Gardner, short. Against SMU, Gardner had the longest run from scrimmage, a 96-yard touchdown, in Temple history.

AAC Championship - Temple v Houston

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

3. Sean Chandler Moves To Safety

Only two players in the nation had multiple interception returns for touchdowns and one was Temple cornerback Sean Chandler. With the emergence of four-star recruit Kareem Ali Jr. at one corner, Chandler could take those break-on-the-ball instincts to the middle of the field and play safety.

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2. Linebackers Strength Of Defense

While Temple opponents can be comforted by the fact that All-American linebacker Tyler Matakevich has graduated, Temple fans know the real deal is that three starting linebackers—Avery Williams (2), Jarred Alwan (41) and Stephaun Marshall (6)—return with a total of 40 starts under their belts. “Our chemistry was ridiculous (in spring practice),” Alwan said. That meant ridiculously good, not ridiculously bad.

AAC Championship - Temple v Houston

  (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

  1. QB P.J. Walker Is Difference-Maker

While the focus is on Houston quarterback Greg Ward and USF quarterback Quenton Flowers, P.J. Walker could be the conference’s best quarterback this season. If he makes the same jump from junior to senior year as he did from sophomore to junior season, the Owls could take home the AAC title. Walker jumped from 13 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions as a sophomore to a 19 and eight as a junior. A similar jump should mean a title.

Thursday: Real Key To Season

Deloatch Could Make Impact At Defensive End

Matt Rhule hits on some key points postgame.

The hard numbers coming out of Saturday’s Cherry and White Game were three touchdown passes by P.J. Walker in the White’s 35-25win over the Cherry.

That’s important, because Walker is going to have a big year and the Owls are going to crush Army and Stony Brook in their first two games. With a four-year starter like Walker at quarterback, I also like their chances against anybody Penn State uses at quarterback in the third, which leads us to the rest of the story (as Paul Harvey likes to say).

Putting pressure on that PSU quarterback is going be more important and a guy like Romond Deloatch could hold that key.

Romond Deloatch, Temple football,

When we last saw Romond Deloatch, he was walking off the field in disgust following the Toledo game.

Three years ago, Matt Rhule dipped into Charlie Strong’s playbook when he decided to discipline wide receiver Romond Deloatch for missing a team meeting. As a punishment, Rhule put Deloatch on defense.

The only punishing done that day, though, was by Deloatch, who had what is believed to be a team-high seven sacks in a scrimmage. The move was reminiscent of Strong, then the Louisville head coach, who punished a quarterback named Marcus Smith by putting him at defensive end in a practice four years ago.

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The difference, though, was Strong kept Smith at end and he became a first-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Rhule, having made his point, put Deloatch back at starting wide receiver for Temple. Rhule and the defensive coaches filed away that sophomore performance and now Deloatch is back at defensive end in Saturday’s annual spring game. Quarterback P.J. Walker’s White team beat Deloatch’s Cherry team, 35-25, but the score in these games are never has important as the personnel moves and Deloatch’s is certainly one of the most unusual in Temple history.

At times, Deloatch appeared unblockable, but because the quarterback was not “live” there were no stats kept on sacks. Like Smith, though, Deloatch’s long arms, leaping ability, first step to the quarterback and lean frame (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), make him an intriguing weapon at defensive end. At the very least, the experiment will continue into the fall and Deloatch could be a specialty pass rusher in third-and-long situations. Either way, if Deloatch is able to disrupt things there are a whole lot of talented guys on that DL that can contribute to collapsing the pocket, too.

If he gets seven sacks in the opener against Army, and seven more against Stony Brook, the PSU quarterback—whoever he is—might be wise to take out an insurance policy.

Tuesday: 5 Things We’ve Learned This Spring

Thursday: The Real Key to the Season

Saturday: Opponents Spring Games