No home run hitters

I hope the fans who came to this game keep coming back.

I hope the fans who came to this game keep coming back.

On a day when Al Golden got the first signature win of his coaching career, the players who lobbied so hard for an ex-assistant of Golden to be hired as a head coach failed to deliver one for him.

It’ll be awhile now before Matt Rhule gets his first signature win because wins in the next two are merely holding serve.

Click on photo for my story on game that appeared on

Click on photo for my story on game that appeared on

A three-point underdog at home has got to beat a Houston team that went 5-7 a year ago and lost (big) to Marshall, SMU and East Carolina. Heck, beating Houston should not be considered a signature win, just a must one. This team allowed 72 points to a 6-6 SMU team. Seventy-two. They didn’t bring a whole new group of players to Philadelphia. These were the same guys. The … same …  guys (minus an NFL player, who graduated).

The Temple offense has to score more than two touchdowns against that team.

Whether it was Rhule’s fault or the players’ fault is immaterial by now, but there were a number of curious developments or non-developments I felt contributed to the loss:

  • This team reminds me of the Phillies: A lot of singles’ hitters and no home run hitters. The Owls have a lot of guys who can catch an 11-yard out and fall down. They have a lot of possession receivers, but no “home run” threat, a guy who can take a bubble screen to the house (unless you are counting 4.34 sprinter Khalif Herbin, who must be in witness protection somewhere or Zaire Williams, who they never throw a screen pass to).
  • I’m not as fixated on the kicking situation as everyone else because this team should be scoring touchdowns, not field goals. Does Temple ever throw the ball INTO the end zone? I haven’t seen much evidence of that. You can’t score touchdowns if you don’t throw the ball INTO the end zone on a more regular basis than Temple currently does. Who knows? You might even get a pass interference call.

    According to Mike Jensen's story in Sunday's Inquirer, he writes "it sounds as if it might be Nick Visco" as the starting kicker against Fordham.

    According to Mike Jensen’s story in Sunday’s Inquirer, he writes “it sounds as if it might be Nick Visco” as the starting kicker against Fordham.

  • Speaking of the kicking game, we heard all summer that Jim Cooper Jr. was locked in a neck-and-neck battle with fellow true freshman Nick Visco for the kicking job. In the scrimmage at Neshaminy, only one kicker nailed two of three from beyond the 50, including one against the rush without a tee in six-inch grass and he wasn’t named Paul Layton or Jim Cooper Jr. Yet we didn’t see that kicker on Saturday.   Only one kicker in the history of Pennsylvania football has hit extra-point attempts at a 96 percent rate (minimum attempts 100) and he is not named Jim Cooper Jr. or Paul Layton. We haven’t seen him kick in a real game yet. They must be saving his red shirt.
  • Does it concern you that Temple didn’t score a point in the second half? Doesn’t bode well for the offensive adjustments being made by the Temple OC Marcus Satterfield at halftime. Just for giggles, I went back over Nick Rolovich’s  record while OC at Nevada. As I guessed, he was never shut out in any second half. Rolovich accepted, then turned down, the TU OC job, leaving the door open for Satterfield.
  • While on the subject of Nicks (Visco and Rolovich), add in Nick Rapone. No Temple defense has ever given up 524 yards of total offense when Rapone was DC. Now Nick is in Arizona working as DB coach with two Temple guys, Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles. Something tells me the Cardinals’ defense is in good hands. By the way, Rapone was “very interested” in the DC job before it was awarded to Phil Snow. Since Rapone, who was FCS defensive coordinator of the year at Delaware, has a daughter who currently attends Temple, he likely would not have accepted the NFL job in Arizona had he got the TU job first.
  • If you are going to try a wide receiver pass, why have John Christopher do it when you have two accomplished passers who already play the position (Chris Coyer and Jalen Fitzpatrick)? Just a thought.
  • Why on third-and-nine with Juice Granger coming in cold off the bench do you have him throwing a 40-yard bomb? How about an 11-yard pass just to move the sticks? Just a thought.
  • Now that Cody Booth, who owns the best pair of hands on the team, is a tackle, how come Temple never uses the tackle eligible play?
  • Now that Richie Leone hit 5 for 5 field goals against Temple, maybe recruiting somebody like Devonte Watson to block kicks wasn’t such a crazy April Fool’s Joke after all. watson
  • How come we haven’t seen Coyer throw one halfback (or H-back) pass off a simple quick toss from Connor Reilly? Are they saving that for Fordham?
  • Zaire Williams should get the ball 20 times a game just one game to see how many yards he racks up. I’m willing to bet it’s over 100.
  • I really like everything I see from Connor Reilly expect the dearth of touchdown passes. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think part of the job requirement of being a FBS college quarterback is to throw a lot of  touchdown passes.   I remember going to a game once and seeing a Temple quarterback throw five touchdown passes against a conference foe.  One game, five touchdown passes. Geez, I hope I see something like that soon. Maybe Saturday. Maybe.

It’s been a long time since Adam DiMichele played here. Or Bruce Francis.


42 thoughts on “No home run hitters

  1. we are a below average team…., strategy should be the same when AG took over, play as many freshmen and Sophomores as you can this year and recruit your ass off for next year….., why don’t we blitz more?

  2. If you can’t get pressure on the QB with the 4 and 5, got to send 6….. that kid looked way too comfortable in the pocket, although he was getting the ball out quick. Our LBs are our strength. We should send them. Fordham just beat Nova tonight. That should get our attention. We’ve got to stop this dink and dunk stuff to receivers who can’t break free from the first tackle. Give the ball to Zaire, then play action after he gets into a rhythm (the old BP offense).

  3. I don’t even know where to start. How about with grades? Defense A-. They gave up a ton of yards but not a lot of points. This defense played great, considering the offense was horrendous. Offense C-. Play calling wasnt great, but I don’t think Connor Reilly is the guy. He takes way too long to make a decision. The RB’s are open out of the backfield a lot and he tries to thread the needle over the middle. And something is wrong with Fitzpatrick. He has no explosion, no confidence, and his decision making has been terrible. Kicking Game F-. Not only can Temple not make a FG or extra point, but they can’t get a kickoff deeper than the 10 yard line. This could be the worse kicking game in the history of college football. Not kidding. I bet if you looked it up, no team ever started 0-3 on field goals and 1-3 on extra points. Coaching C. The team hasn’t been playing loose. Snow has done a much better job than I expected. Satterfield has been a major disappointment. I like Rhule, but he has not impressed me yet. It’s early and they should get bettet, but this could be themakings of a 3-9 season. I hope not.

    • Both Kenny and Zaire were open all day out of the backfield.

    • Agree with your coaching grades. I would like to see the defense closer to allowing 20 points a game rather than 25 but with Snow’s EMU teams giving up 34+ a game my expectations weren’t high at the beginning of the season. As for the offense, I have questions about the play calling. Not ready to for a 3-9 season yet, at the start of the year thought 7-5 could be possible. At this point I feel if the team does no worse than 5-7 I’ll look at it as a year for Rhule to “learn” to be a head coach, undo Daz’s work and put his system in place. One big thing I noticed from the game is that Temple needs to recruit more speed, UH seemed much faster across the board.

    • The defense was indeed great. However, if you do not score and you cannot even make extra points or field goals you will lose. The only solution is dropping to FCS and playing Villanova and Fordham. It could be a long season.

  4. This was another game in which you give 27,000 fans no reason to come back again.

    How many will show up to see Fordham?

    • This is what I was afraid of the most. Past history has shown a deflating early-season loss kills attendance for the rest of the year. This was a deflating early-season loss. To answer your question specifically, anywhere between 11K and 17K (and for the record, I believe these are accurate crowd numbers Temple is reporting. They are not made up. They are determined by a computer off the scanner. If your ticket is scanned, you are counted. Temple doesn’t ask the Eagles what the figure was and say, “Geez, that’s too low. I think I’ll make it 27K.”) I would be shocked out of my mind if Temple hit 20K for Fordham.

    • I agree with Mike regarding a drop down to FCS. The folks in my section had an interesting conversation about attendance by starting out saying how many visiting fans can you expect from Houston. Not that I want the Linc flooded with opposing fans but if you have 25,000+ Temple fans and another say 5,000 visiting fans the Linc starts to look less empty. I do wonder though how many fans can we expect from SMU, Memphis, UCF, USF, etc. Outside of Uconn, who are the closest schools going forward for next season Cinci and ECU. I think it will be important to try and keep Rutgers, Maryland and PSU OOC rivals.

  5. I thought the defense was outstanding by not allowing a touchdown for 58 minutes of the game.

  6. Hey they brought back your favorite helmet. I like what TU has done with the Uniform schemes for this season.

  7. I totally agree with everything you said, my thoughts exactly. I would have liked to see them run it a bit more. I think the play that killed them was early in the 4th when they were down by two with first and ten at the 12 yard line. Those two false start calls moved it back to first and 20 and they never recovered from that. Then Paul Layton missed the 20 yard field goal and that was that.

  8. Can’t disagree about being a below average team right now. My big concern is that if the team is still this way next season when the AAC is at best an average conference, basically the old C-USA, we’re in trouble.
    In addition to not blitzing what’s with a defensive scheme while trying to protect the outside leaves the middle so wide open. Mike to your dink and dunk point there is more passing than last year but no more effective than Daz’s 3 yards and a cloud of dust attack

  9. Brian Kelly said he was “comfortable with their dink and dunk approach.” If an opponent is “comfortable” with what Temple does, I’m not. I’d like for an opponent to say, “Geez, I wasn’t comfortable with that little No. 27 out there making all of those moves and scoring all of those touchdowns. He reminds me of that No. 22 they had a few years ago” or “I wasn’t comfortable with them giving the ball to that No. 23. He’s a slippery running back (that’s for you, Kevin Duckett).” Actually, Zaire Williams does indeed remind me of Kevin Duckett, the pride of Northeast High.

  10. Good points Mike. Plenty of positives and negatives, but trying to keep things in perspective. These next 3 weeks are crucial in trying to figure out how to improve this team and find out “who we really are”. You figure 2 games against Fordham and Idaho, and a bye week, will help get us back to .500 (hopefully, nothing is guaranteed) and fix or at least improve problem areas on the team. I’m definitely not asking for last years scheme to return, but I do feel like Zaire and Harper need more carries. Only game 2 for Rhule coaching, so he may be still figuring out how to balance the offense. Still feel that this team is much better than last years and definitely more competitive, only time will tell though!

    • I think Matt is trying to hard to prove he’s the polar opposite of Daz, when he should be more like Golden, who gave the rock to The Franchise, put the fear of God in opponents, then used the play-action pass off a fake in Bernard Pierce’s belly for big gains downfield in the passing game. What would have happened if that first play was a draw to Zaire Williams? Maybe not a touchdown, but certainly a better result than an INT.

  11. If we don’t find a placekicker I don’t see this team winning any more than 3 or 4 games. I don’t understand why layton comes out to kick a fg when visco was neck and neck with cooper for the job.

    • Visco is a stone-cold assassin. I saw him in high school. I did not see Cooper play in high school, but I know Visco has a Cap Poklemba mindset. I’ll be excited to see Visco and Herbin finally hit the field on Saturday.

      • Sr. missed a big field goal against BYU as I recall back in 1985. I would like to see Visco considering that there is a risk of Scott Norwood syndrome in the wood pile.

  12. If I were an offensive coordinator facing Temple, I may only rush the ball 10 times at the end of the game to run the clock out. My entire offensive would be passing. The defensive backs this year might be comparable to Bobby Wallace’s d-backs of the early 2000s. It’s like watching a poorly coached junior varsity secondary against the local college team. Snow, in my opinion is not to be said in the same sentence as Chuck Heater, ever! No pass rush. No blitzing. Poor run stopping. Big plays being given up every 3rd play. Giving up 5 FGs when your offense can’t score isn’t a moral victory. It just another Temple loss. Why are people satisfied with Snow? Because giving up a FG is becoming a victory for Temple. This is the low standard we’ve now began to accept. Setting the bar low and achieving it is NOT a victory!! That kind of attitude will never rise this program. Set the bar high, expect more out of your players and coaches.

    • You are correct. The attitude needs to change. However, the one thing I would say is that the defensive line is quality. To survive this season they will need to blitz and run some stunts up front. The defensive backs have no hope against the pass. They seem to come up and tackle well. Without top notch athletes at the receiver or defensive backfield we are doomed. Not much to say about the kicking game. It will be a bad year. Let the recruiting begin..

  13. The “gotta win now or die” attitude is unwise. For example, going deep on the first play from scrimmage was unnecessary. Fans need to chill and not pressurize the situation, which is counter-productive. AG was 1-11, 4-8, and 5-7 his first three years. Playing patient small ball is the way to go for this undermanned Owl team. The defense played well, and the offense was okay except when they tried to force the ball too deep. It’s early in the season. Keep Calm. Dink on offense and go deep when the DB’s start to cheat, and don’t give up big plays on defense.

  14. I’ve got to say mike that game was brutal, not because of the loss to a better team but because it confirmed several weaknesses with the owls. Houston was a better team and the owls should get used to losing. We still suffer a talent gap against better D1teams and I agree with the idea of redshirting the freshmen and focusing on the future. A few observations….

    First, I don’t understand how people can think the defense played well. They gave up over 500 yards of offense and allowed Houston to convert first downs at will. They did tighten up inside the twenty but still allowed scores on seemingly every drive. The secondary remains an area of significant concern and will get lit up by the better QBs especially with a complete lack of a pass rush.

    Second, the kicking game is beyond bad.

    Third, the owls clearly lack any big play threat. This was obvious all day long but especially during the final drive. We may have skilled players who look good on paper but those skills don’t show up on the field. Without a consistent kicking game there’s a lot more pressure on the offense and we don’t have the talent to deliver.

    I’m not sure where to start but when you have demonstrated the inability to stop the pass and to generate any offense yourself it can make for a long season.

    • I can see your point regarding the defense from the perspective of yardage but I also look at their performance as somewhat analogous to the bend but don’t break philosophy that Johnson ran with the Eagles. Don;t take it that I’m remotely comparing the Owls defense to those great Eagle defenses, it’s just a touchdown from the offense on that drive where Layton attempted the field goal changes the whole complexion of the game at that point. I do agree about the overall pass coverage especially how easy it was for Houston to get yardage and first downs with slants to #3. Temple seemed focused on not giving up any big plays to the outside with little regard for the center of the field.

  15. Actually, Johnson’s defense was the polar opposite of “bend-but-don’t-break” .. he would blitz the house, sending eight on almost all third-down situations, trying to create turnovers. He only did that because he had Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent on the corners, two exceptional 1-1 cover guys. We don’t have Bobby Taylor or Troy Vincent.

    • But his defenses would tend to give yards between the 20s. The heavy blitzing was high risk, high reward and with the talent he had to work with mostly reward. The thing the defense lacked on Saturday was that attacking element of the blitz

      • Right on the money about JJ defenses….as relates to the owls we clearly don’t have the level or depth if talent to legitimately compete at the bcs level. You can see the difference most clearly in the caliber of athletes in the defensive secondary, where there’s no hiding a lack of speed or athleticism.

        We’ve done a very good job recruiting this year but are still a couple of years away from having a talent base that allows us to win those close games against bcs teams. The next couple of years isn’t about the talent of the players it’s about the talent of the coaches. If MR plays by the book he’s gone in three years. He needs to get more creative and buy himself time to let the athletes develop and level the talent playing field.

        Keep up the great work. Btw…this week is no gimme for the owls.

  16. I think the 27k crowd was accurate. Also, the student section was into the game. They were loud. Had some nice chants. There may have only been 27k there, but they were pretty into the game. Of course, no one will show up to Saturday except season ticket holders.

  17. Since I predicted 22,807, I was thrilled with 27K and for people who think that estimate was low, that is EXACTLY what 27K looks like in a 70K stadium.

  18. I’m a Temple senior was in the student section. 27,000 has to be inflated. It felt like 15,000.

    As much as I’d like to jump on the bandwagon and say that an on-campus stadium would increase attendance, I think that’s a grossly exaggerated assumption. There may be a slight uptick in student attendance, but if students aren’t willing to board a bus or subway to go to LF today then I doubt they care to walk down the street to go to the game in an on-campus stadium either. The problem is that Temple is starting off with a losing record AND has a losing history. We aren’t a storied football program. There is no excitement to watch a traditionally bad team lose again. Attendance will increase if Temple football wins. “Build it and they will come” stadium approach is the dumbest things I’ve heard. I know this is an unpopular opinion on this blog, but it’s the reality. Temple football needs to win and that doesn’t mean winning by sinking $300m more into the program. Fencing, basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics all win without large investments. At some point, we as fans need to realize that winning is not dependent upon butts in seats. Winning is a result of good coaching, good recruiting, and good scheduling. Facilities play a part in that equation, but an on-campus stadium will not in any way, shape, or form make the football players better prepared to win.

    Just my two cents. I’m prepared to take punches on here for that opinion. But I’d rather be real than delusional.

    • I pretty much agree with you. I want a stadium but not until I see real proof of sustainable improvement. We haven’t seen that yet….a couple couple decent seasons and one bowl game win does not a trend make. Give me a few legit wins and a decade of being better than average and that’s when a stadium would make sense.

  19. Definitely not inflated. 27K is from the scanned tickets. That’s a computer (Eagles’) generated number, not a Temple-generated number. If your ticket is scanned, it’s counted toward the attendance. A lot of people walk the concourse all game. I had tons of people in my section get up NUMEROUS times (during plays, which I can’t stand) to go to the concessions. I do agree about the coaching, though. How is Marshall and SMU able to score 48 points and 72 points on that team and Temple score only 13? Marshall and SMU don’t recruit talent significantly better than Temple. In fact, the Temple talent is better than Marshall and might be a tad shy of SMU’s.

    • most alumni don’t want to travel to N. Philly. but most alumni don’t come anyway. So put a field on campus and hope more students go to the games. The Alum die hards will go no matter where the stadium is

      • I agree with a stadium on campus. Temple has changed to more of a campus school than a commuter school. I think it would make a difference. This American Athletic Conferce is really the old Conference USA. Temple will improve but will usually be in the middle of the pack. There will be a few surprise games here and there but that will be it. Let us build a real campus following and take it from there.

      • That seems backwards to me. If all 30,000 students lived on campus, an on-campus stadium would make more sense. But right now, there are only 14,000 there. A $300m stadium investment today won’t pay nearly the dividends as two $150m dorms would. If TU football just put a good product on the field, it would attract fans at LF.

        I also believe that rewards come from people/programs that have proven themselves. If Temple awarded every high school student that got an ‘A’ at some point in their life with a full ride, we all know that wouldn’t make financial sense. It also doesn’t make sense to build a stadium for a football program that doesn’t have more than one bowl game win in 30 years. If it wins consistently, I’ll be the first one to support a new stadium.

    • Results matter. I want my team to do amazing things. If they aren’t delivered then people need to be held accountable. That means the coaches, the AD, and eventually Theobald. I hate the rationale of saying “let’s build a smaller stadium because it’ll look better.” Translation: “let’s build a smaller stadium to mask our real issues with why people don’t show up.” We eventually need a campus stadium, but if we aren’t building it for the right reasons and with our heads focused on what’s causing the lower alumni/student engagement then the investment won’t be nearly as effective as it should be.

  20. I like both Coop and Nick but I think for Coop’s sake it’s time to see Nick. It’s only fair to Nick, who was passed over last week for the punter, even though, by all independent accounts, Nick did very well all summer in the competition. The only thing I can think of is Matt doesn’t want to burn the redshirt, but this screams for burning the redshirt. Nick is a kicker; Paul Layton is a punter. Let’s keep it that way.

  21. Looks like it’s Visco this week. Here is a quote Rhule,from

    “I think into this week, we might give Nick (Visco) a shot,” Matt Rhule said. “He competed (Sunday) and today those guys competed in practice. We’re trying to see who can handle the moment and who can get into the game and handle the scenario the best.”

  22. Thank you, Jesus (and Matt Rhule). It killed me to watch Coop on the sidelines because I knew it was killing him. Give the kid a couple of games off to get his head straight. Visco is a stone-cold-assassin and I mean that in a Cap Poklemba sense. He wants to kick and he loves drilling them right down the middle. Watching him will help Cooper.

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