The square-peg round-hole offense

Steve Addazio’s post-game press conference.

On the way into the stadium yesterday, I mentioned to a few of Wayne Hardin’s ex-players that this was a game that Wayne would have loved to have formulated a plan for because of the over pursing nature of Rutgers’ defense and its stout defensive front.

My worst fears about the offensive game plan were realized

In his day, there was no better offensive mind than Hardin. That wasn’t me saying it. It was guys like Tom Landry, Joe Marciano (see quote at bottom of this story) and Joe Paterno.
“Wayne would pull out all the stops,” I said. “He would throw on first down, throw little waggles and slants to move the sticks on first down, then hand off when the defense was on their heels. Then he might throw in a double-reverse and maybe even a pass off it. All that stuff used to work when coach Hardin called it.”

New York Post picks Temple to beat RU in Friday paper.
Unfortunately, the game wasn’t played in the Friday paper.

 I also expressed my concern that Steve Addazio would do just the opposite.
Too often, Addazio has tried to fit a square peg into a round hole. When you try to move bigger, faster, more experienced, defensive fronts with an inexperienced OL, you might as well be pounding your head against a brick wall.
All you get is a headache.
Why do I have the feeling that if this was 1940 and Steve Addazio was a Field Marshal in the German Army, he would have attacked the Maginot Line head-on instead of adroitly going around it like Rommel did? Rommel was going for the championship of Europe that year while Daz was only going for first place in the Big East in 2012, but the analogy stands the test of time.
Yes, Temple has to run the ball to be successful but it must convince the defense it can throw the ball first to make the run work.
The best chance to do that would be play fakes on FIRST down, not third when the defense is pinning their ears back on the quarterback.
“One of Steve’s great strengths is his stubbornness,” I said. “One of his great weaknesses is his stubbornness.”
A look at the play chart suggests my worst fears were realized.

Temple had 10 first-down play calls in the first half and seven were Montel Harris running plays, two were Chris Coyer running plays and one was, you guessed it, another running play, a two-yard gain by Jamie Gilmore.  In the third quarter, the two initial first-down plays were a Montel Harris rush and a Chris Coyer rush.Sense a pattern here? I’m guessing the Rutgers’ coaches did, too.

Temple had 10 first-down play calls in the first half and seven were Montel Harris running plays, two were Chris Coyer running plays and one was, you guessed it, another running play, a two-yard gain by Jamie Gilmore.  In the third quarter, the two initial first-down plays were a Montel Harris rush and a Chris Coyer rush.
Sense a pattern here?
 I’m guessing the Rutgers’ coaches did, too.
As I have written many times, what would be the harm in opening up the game with a two-minute drill, the same two-minute drill that won the game at UConn?
What would be the harm  in taking advantage of Temple past tendencies by faking the ball right into  Montel Harris’ belly ON FIRST DOWN to freeze the defense and throwing the short- and intermediate sideline routes that have a high likelihood of success? Temple does have edge athletes who can do damage, too.
What would be the harm in having Jalen Fitzpatrick, a Big 33 quarterback, throw off a reverse?
If it’s not there, just have Fitzpatrick tuck it away and take off. He’s damn elusive, as his short stint as a spring practice running back showed.
Yes, the defense could have played better in the third quarter but a better-designed offense might have put a lot more than 10 points on the board by then.
Just once, I’d like to see Temple putting square pegs into square holes.
Maybe Saturday at Pitt.
We can only hope.


16 thoughts on “The square-peg round-hole offense

  1. I thought we had a chance at half but I said the same thing I always say and that is we cannot try and win this game 10-0. I realize Coyer hasn't been the most accurate this season and we obviously don't have anyone to catch the ball but running a qb draw on third and 9 when we had lost all the momentum is just horrible play calling. I felt that after Rutgers marched down after half we needed to respond to gain back the momentum. Addazio acted like he was trying to run out the clock with 2 qts left. Rutgers out coached us today. they went in at half and made adjustments and we went in and said hey we are up lets keep doing what we are doing and play temple tuff(im sick of playing tuff but in an asinine manner). Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I thought Addazio wasn't supposed to be calling plays but be more of a motivational guy yet our play calling sucks and our guys have been been MIA for about a half of every game. Who ever is calling plays needs to go. Every instance where we need to respond and try put points up we just continue zone read, drop pass, qb draw. Its honestly amazing we can get a yard at all considering everyone knows its coming.

  2. Addazio said he has a hand in the offensive play calling, but doesn't call all the plays.I think he pretty much directs the flow.I also think he gave Scot Loeffler, a great quarterback coach, more leeway.When Auburn fires Scot, I hope Temple takes him back.I saw a lot more creativity last year in the offense.

  3. I guess at the end of the day I'm not surprised with the result, but even the TV Announcers were shocked when Temple ran shotgun plays with an empty backfield given the RU pass rush. Amazing in that adddazio kept doing it. So now it looks like we're going to live up to expectations as opposed to exceeding them. We may have the gang that can't catch. Unbelievable. Also the defensive secondary had guys "NEAR" the RU receivers, but didn't"t know what to do. Looks like we could be going back to football 101 at the E&O.

  4. Jalen Fitzpatrick can catch. Ryan Alderman (who was not out there) can catch. Cody Booth can catch.Alex Jackson can't catch a cold.You're right, though, the other receivers have only been consistent in dropping the ball.Disappointed is not the word.

  5. Sorry, using the 1st half plays to make a case against Daz doesn't work for me. The plan was working. Give Flood and RU credit, they adjusted at halftime. Previously, our D had trouble tackling. Saturday, they tackled ok, problem was it was the 9th or 10 or 11th man making the play. I think also, and I hate to say it, but Chris has been exposed against the better defenses. His passing has been shaky. Now, we don't face any teams with PSU or RU or even UConn ability the rest of the year. I believe that Pitt is the perfect antidote for us.

  6. I was bummed the owls lost so decisively yesterday but take some solace in the fact they were beaten by a better and more seasoned team (unlike the Maryland loss). CC clearly could have shown up better and the defense seemed to fold up their tents starting in the third quarter but this is what it looks like when you play a better team. If the owls can win three more games the rest of the year I think they can consider this a successful season. The long term success of the program is going to rely on Daz's ability to land more three and four star recruits. I think the owls could have a nice rivalry forming, and can learn a lot from Rutgers in building a program from the ashes into a top twenty contender.

  7. actually, I was also using second-half plays (the first two first-down calls, especially).Eight were in the box.Even Stevie Wonder could see a play-fake to MH would work for six in that scenario.Stevie Addazio, though, didn't.The offensive play-calling has been ALARMINGLY bad in at least 3 games (UM, PSU, RU).Alarmingly.Also regularly bad in the UConn game, which was a win.

  8. So I guess the shine is off those "multiple championship rings."

  9. Going into half-time, I was the very image of 'cautiously optimistic.' By the 2nd touchdown of the 3rd quarter, I knew it was over and was happy to root for us to at least stay in the game. That wasn't in the cards. The loss was pretty embarrassing. (A side note…I've noticed a definite disparity in the coverage of owls wins vs owls losses.) I mean, we are doing a lot better than most people anticipated. We won't be last in the Big East. And I still think we could make a bowl; Syracuse, Army and Pitt are winnable games. But these first 6 games have cooled me off considerably on Coyer and these "receivers" we have. The real theme to my complaints though has to be the coaching. I don't see the genius I think I am supposed to be seeing. Addazio is a terrible play-caller. I'm not impressed with Chuck Heater, either. I've tried to be, but..I dunno, I just get this feeling that Heater makes a game plan, then hits the concession stands, cause by half-time we're figured out. Tu2acc is right, Rutgers adjusted and that was that..and I think Dayowl has pretty much nailed it; we are going to succeed in spite of the coaching, not because of it. Daz is gonna have to start pulling those big recruits in. Let Hooter call the offense.

  10. You got that right, MassOwl.He lost me when he said he put in Juice to "see what he can do."Then had him throw just 3 (that's 3) passes on 3 (that's 3 offensive series).Then, with 3 (that's 3) time outs left and 7:34 left in the game, down, 34-10, he punted.I said to the folks behind me, "He better use all three time outs now and use this as a teaching time."He didn't.The clock ran … and ran … and ran.Temple TUFF?You've got to be kidding me.I'd rather lose 54-10 and try to score a couple of TDs than lose 34-10 and give up.I don't blame one Temple fan for walking out after that.

  11. Still, I think Steve could be the second-best Temple coach ever (nobody will ever be better than Wayne Hardin) if he throws the ball on first down.Geez, does it really take a genius to know that if you have the No. 1 BCS running back on your team a play-fake to him every once in awhile on FIRST DOWN would work for a big gain in the passing game?I don't think so.I've been pleading for this all year, but stubbornness is a very bad personality trait.

  12. I like it. Addazio was run out of Gainesville and is to Urban Meyer what Bill Guthridge was to Dean Smith.I am not a Coyer fan as he has happy feet and doesn't protect the football, but I will trust your dynamic judgment of him until the HC and OC discover a 21st Century playbook.You win games and sell tix with coaching and winning, not carnival barking.

  13. You make good points.Here's the bottom line: The sad thing about losses to Md and EVEN Rutgers was that they could have been wins had TU had someone with the offensive vision and wisdom of Hardin or Arians and that's all things being equal with Hardin or Arians coaching Daz's talent against RU's current talent.Temple will never win with this run-first mentality. It's got to be pass first to set up the run with this current personnel structure, not the other way around.Don't know why Hardin and Arians understand this and Daz doesn't.The only way TU won at UConn was a perfectly executed 2-minute drill. That's throwing the football, not running it.Running it 12 straight first downs is not going to put you in a position to win many games with a 2-minute drill.

  14. Over a sixty-minute game and eleven game season things pretty much work out as they should. While the owls may end up around .500 this year they have two key seniors this year that are skilled above the rest of the team (BM and MH), which is to say nothing of Matt Brown. One of the goals for this year needs to be to develop the rest of the team prepped to step up next year when we lose these skill players. I was surprised the owls didn't pick up an additional game this year given this dynamic and the need to get the team seasoned.CC needs the reps in an offense that can survive post-MH and MB. This includes the balancing out of the run/pass mix that will take the pressure off the new crop of backs. I think Fitzpatrick could be the go to receiver of the future given the dearth of talent in that position. I also think with the loss of BM we're going to need to be able to finish better in the red zone against the better teams. The owls have already exceeded expectations this season but really need to focus on closing out this season in a way that prepares them for success next year. Keep up the great work. Mike

  15. A couple of points I have tried to make before. I have been a Florida fan since I went to my first game back in 1991, and have been following them ever since. I became a Temple fan when I came up here to do my PhD. So, I have seen a bunch of Addazio.1)He most certainly keeps trying to run plays even when they aren't working.2)He has the makings of a good head coach but he needs an offensive coordinator that he thinks is better than him. This is what happened with Loefler and why the offense was better last year. Coach A stayed out of his way.3)This is a rebuilding year. There is a reason these offensive linemen were backups last year and not starters. You can't replace most of the offensive line, the best running back in school history, and your best couple of receivers and think you are just going to reload. Sorry but Temple is not Alabama and doesn't just get to plug a bunch of new guys in (heck even Alabama can't do that hence why it is such a surprise they haven't dropped off much since last year).4)The secondary is weak. There are blown coverages all over the place. The secondary was not a whole lot better last year but it was masked by a much better pass rush.5)I don't really think it was Coyer's fault. He had way more time to throw the ball last year. Plus those rollouts are still not being called. I had no faith in Addazio doing this because the EXACT same thing was said in 2009 and 2010 at Florida and it never happened.Basically, we just need to wait for some of the younger players to mature. One of the problems is the team seems to be kind of split between seniors and young guys so there will be a whole bunch of new starters next year.Also, we need a better and more vocal offensive coordinator. Sorry but until that happens I have no faith in Temple's offense to perform consistently against good competition. Hopefully a new OC is hired before someone hires away Heater because we would really be up a creek.

  16. I know who MH is, but you lost me on BM.Who is BM?And, the way this year is shaping up, nobody is going to hire Heater away unless he posts shutouts in the final 5 games.

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