|Stats told some of the story.|
Some scattershot observations from a long day in South Philadelphia:
Not a big stat guy, but I had to rush home and look at the stats for Saturday’s Cherry and White game because I could have sworn one guy on the White team carried the ball 30 times for minus 25 yards.
I was wrong.
It was 17 times for 27 yards.
The Cherry offensive line opened holes for Matty Brown and Jalen Fitzpatrick, but the White team runners had a hard time finding open holes. That could be due to playing behind a second-team offensive line, but I saw holes close due to lack of foot speed by a running back.
Suffice it to say that a high-end speed of 4.64 for the 40 is not fast enough for a top-level FCS tailback, let alone a top-level FBS or BCS lead rusher.
I tried to warn head coach Steve Addazio that Chester Stewart can’t play at this level and he, like Al Golden, learned that the hard way. Both coaches saw enough by midseason in each of the last two years and were forced to pull the plug. Hopefully, the backup running back positions will be plugged in by the summer when the Calvary arrives.
|Wes Welker, err, Ryan Alderman catches everything in sight.|
That problem will be solved by the arrival of elusive runners like Khalif Herbin, Brandon Peoples and Jamie Gilmore in July. There is plenty of opportunity for one of those guys to rocket up the depth chart. I’d like to see Fitzpatrick and Herbin fight it out in the slot and Peoples and Gilmore get a decent shot to back up Brown, but all of that should be ironed out in the summer practices. Both Peoples and Gilmore have the kind of explosiveness and open-field vision you are born with and can’t be taught. Peoples was a dynamic player in a great high school league. Gilmore was a dynamic player in a great high school state. Herbin scored 36 touchdowns last year for Montclair (N.J.), despite sitting out second halves of four games that were over by halftime.
From the looks of the running backs not named Brown or Fitzpatrick, the new guys are going to be needed right away.
Still, the good outweighed the bad in Cherry’s 17-10 win.
- Cherry quarterback Chris Coyer was on target with his passes all day. Had he not worn the orange “no tackle” jersey, there’s no doubt in my mind that he would have scored on one of his patented 80-yard touchdown runs.
- Wide receiver Ryan Alderman, who New York Giants’ assistant coach Matt Rhule called “Temple’s Wes Welker” is a human vacuum cleaner out there. He caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Coyer. Toss anything near him and he’s going to come down with the ball. That’s comforting to know on third-and-eight.
- White quarterback Juice Granger was also impressive, although I would have liked to see him throw the DEEP ball better. (He throws a nice short and intermediate range pass.)
- Brandon McManus was outstanding again, both in punting and placekicking. He had only one bad punt all day and his 53-yarder would have been good from 60. He’s an NFL talent.
- As advertised, some players have really stepped up.
- Middle linebacker Nate D. Smith was making plays all over the field, but that’s something he’s done all of his life as an Owl. (He was an Owl in high school as well.)
- Hershey Walton, a 6-2, 290-pound converted offensive lineman, was solid in the middle as a nose guard.
- Brian Burns, wearing No. 48, made a statement with an interception, several nice breakups and a big-time open field hit. He could be in the hunt for the starting free safety position.
The concerns coming out of the game were the same ones coming into it.
The Owls need to develop depth along the offensive line (they have good depth on defense) and find a kicker to replace McManus, who unfortunately won’t be playing Temple football, err, forever. My nightmare scenario is that he gets roughed and injured on a punt and misses significant Big East time. Didn’t happen last year, so keep those fingers crossed again.
The offensive line was a bright spot. I think the starters are going to be at least as good there, if not better, than last year’s.
So does Daz.
“We have five (starters) on the offensive line and we’re not going to skip a beat there,” said Addazio. “We’ve got to get that up to six, seven, eight guys and we’ll be working on that.”
If anyone can whip this offensive line into shape, it is Addazio.
Running back is a different story, though. You can’t be taught that.
Either you have it or you don’t.
Brown and Fitzpatrick have it and we’ll leave it at that.
For now, we have to.