About a year and a month ago at this time, I suggested one trick play for head coach Steve Addazio: Double reverse with Jalen Fitzpatrick getting the ball on the second handoff and then throwing it all the way across the field to Chris Coyer.
Addazio, who would not know a trick play if it bit him on the butt, finally used the play in the season’s eighth game against Louisville. It went for 12 yards and a first down.
The thought behind that was simple: Fitzpatrick was a former Big 33 quarterback out of Harrisburg High. Coyer an athlete good enough to be named MVP for both the football and basketball teams at Oakton (Va.). Fitzpatrick knows how to throw a ball and Coyer knows how to catch one. We might know that. I’m not sure if teams playing Temple pay a whole lot of attention to that kind of detail.
I don’t know if that was the first trick play Daz ever used at Temple, but it certainly was the only one of 2012 and, thankfully, his last. I do know Matt Rhule uses trick plays. His call for a Joey Jones pass off a reverse resulted in a touchdown in a 42-25 win at Army in 2010 was pure genius. That was the tightest spiral thrown all season. So I don’t think I’ll ever have to suggest a trick play for Matt. He’s good at that.
Rhule gets a big thumbs-up for his well-thought-out position changes, too, in my humble opinion. While Addazio was perfectly comfortable using a four-star talent to hold a clipboard all last year, Rhule won’t allow that to happen.
I had three position changes outlined for coach Matt Rhule in a post dated March 20, 2013 and titled “Matt Rhule Bobblehead Day” and one of them was switching Alex Jackson from tight end to defensive end.
Matt didn’t go for it in the spring (practice began two days after that post), but, thankfully, he did not wait until the eighth game of the season to switch Alex Jackson from tight end to defensive end. Jackson was switched to defensive end last week and I think this is a trade that will benefit both clubs (offense and defense).
I’ve always said the two biggest keys to winning in college football (other than ball security, of course) are protecting your quarterback and putting the other quarterback on his ass. I have a feeling that having the combination of the speedy 6-4, 280-pound Jackson in there at one bookend with Sean Daniels at the other will give the Owls a much better pass rush. Jackson was a DE in high school and showed a lot of ability to rush the passer at Dunnellon (Fla.) He only played high school football one season after earning a reputation as one of Florida’s best basketball small forwards. At Temple, he was switched to TE and had trouble catching the ball in big spots the past two seasons particularly.
I think the offensive line is shaping up real well and it looks like new tight end Romond DeLoatch will be a reliable pass-catcher.
The other position change I’d like to see at some point is Khalif Herbin to running back. With Kevin Newsome leaving the program (he doesn’t want to play football anymore), I think that move is now needed more than ever. High-end depth at tailback is going to be a problem without Herbin filling a “Matty Brown-type” role. Fullback is a real good spot for the Owls. If they use Wyatt Benson (the best blocking fullback in Temple history) on defense, they still have Kenny Harper (another good blocker) and Coyer who can also play the position. High-end depth at tailback means a battle between guys like Jamie Gilmore, Zaire Williams and (hopefully) Herbin. Out of those guys, hopefully one or two “home-run hitters” will emerge.
Still, I see a lot of good pass-receiving options and Herbin is the kind of talent who I’d like to see touch the ball more than the 5-7 times a typical slot receiver touches it during the course of any game.
Matt Brown was in a similar position to Herbin at the start of his freshman season and Al Golden saw the light and switched him before the 2009 opener with Villanova. To me, Herbin and Matt Brown are the same player except that Herbin is slightly bigger and slightly faster. Brown and the Owls benefited from the extra touches and there’s still plenty of time for the Owls to determine Herbin’s eventual spot.