Position changes: One out of two isn’t bad

One of the greatest position changes ever made at Temple: Matt Brown from slot receiver to RB. Khalif Herbin would give the Owls some high-end Matty Brown-type depth at RB.

One of the greatest position changes ever made at Temple: Matt Brown from slot receiver to RB. Khalif Herbin would give the Owls some high-end Matty Brown-type depth at RB.

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.

Photo courtesy Mike Edwards

Got to love former Owl great Raheem Brock, still representing at the restaurant he owns, Brocks Wings, 1600 North Broad. You can get this schedule at Brock’s Wings and attached are discount cards.

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 called for this pass to be thrown against Rutgers back in the summer of 2012. Unfortunately, wasn't used until Nov. 4.

I called for this pass to be thrown against Rutgers back in the summer of 2012. Unfortunately, wasn’t used until Nov. 4.

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.

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9 thoughts on “Position changes: One out of two isn’t bad

  1. The Benson to LB is a weird switch. I know he played there before, but I just thought he would be back at FB by now. Don’t we have pretty good depth already at LB? Or is this just a way to get Benson on the field in hopes that Coyer takes over at FB?

  2. Same thought process with Benson as with Coyer. The 22 best players get on the field. Matt was quoted as saying a fullback only blocks 5-10 times a game. That’s probably close to true. Get Benson on the field for 30-40 plays on defense and Temple as a team is probably better off than the 5-10 times on offense. Goal-line offense, I’m putting No. 44 back in there.

  3. when did Newsome leave? think you are spot on… college football is all about the play you get out of the QB position… our defense has to make the opposing QB uncomfortable and our OL has to keep our new guy in the comfort zone…..,the 2014 recruit class is top notch minus RBs and WRs which is sort of strange

  4. Newsome apparently doesn’t want to play. Sad, because I think he would have gotten a chance at RB this year. A real chance, not like the chance he got at QB in the past. Very talented kid, both in music and football. We haven’t heard the last from him.

  5. Khalif is a different player than Matt. He’s not at physical or wide in the upper body. He also hasn’t shown the same explosive playmaking ability to get away from people. If he catches it in space, he can make something happen. But Matt’s biggest attribute was creating that space for himself. As a team manager I’ve been to every practice the last 4 years, just so it doesn’t sound like I’m coming at this with nothing.

  6. Then we’re down to Gilmore and Williams. Don’t feel comfortable about that depth. Spencer Reid can’t play. I don’t think Harper can be one of the best tailbacks in the AAC, and to aspire to win the conference, you have to have that Pierce/Matty Brown/Montel Harris type feature back, but he can be a heckuva fullback. How does Pretlow look?

  7. good point about the upper body, but I’m looking at the stats and Herbin is 5-7, 170 and Brown was 5-5, 150 as a soph. Maybe the weight room will help Herbin in the upper body, too.

  8. Great player ideas.

    Has your defensive line strategy of going 3-4 instead of 4-3 gained any interest?

  9. Scary thing is Snow only had “35 percent” of the defense in by C and W Day. Maybe he was spending most of his time here looking for a new place but Satterfield, in the same time frame, said he had “100 percent” of the offense in …

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