Speed Kills and Speed Would Help

The Owls didn't have the speed at tailback to get outside enough to keep drives going.

The Owls didn’t have the speed at tailback to get outside enough to keep drives going.

It’s funny (curious funny, not humorous funny) how football works.

The hope—at least with a lot of Temple fans—was that Navy would get beaten up so much by a bigger, stronger, faster, Ohio State team that it would suffer so many injuries that would help Temple a week later.

“Give Temple credit.
A lot of that was all
the third and twos
we couldn’t convert.
We have been converting
those in the past.
… but they beat
our guys up front.”
_ Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo
err, five years ago

Instead, Temple was the school that suffered so many injuries that last year’s starting corner, Anthony Robey, had to play safety. Still, the biggest takeaway from the day to me was the Owls’ shocking inability to play the option as compared to the 2009 Temple team. On that day in Annapolis, the Temple defensive front handled Navy’s offensive line in a 27-24 win. So much so that this is what Navy’s great coach, Ken Niumatalolo said afterward:

“Give Temple credit. A lot of that was all the third and twos we couldn’t convert. We have been converting those in the past. … but they beat our guys up front.”

That was then. This was now: Temple was painfully slow at both defensive ends after showing some speed last week. Don’t know whether it was the heat or not, but Praise Martin-Oguike and Sharif Finch played most of the down and distance situations a week ago against Vanderbilt and those two have outstanding DE speed. Their backups, though, who did get a lot of snaps—probably because of the heat— are slow as molasses. Molasses on top of Navy’s pancake blocking is not a good condiment.

How has Temple gone from “beating (Navy’s) guys” to being beaten at the point of attack? Recruiting should have gotten better after the MAC, not worse. I’d also like to know how Western Kentucky—with Western Kentucky talent—beat Navy’s guys last year in a 19-7 win. Or how Duke’s guys did it in a 35-7 win. Playing Navy is tough, but coaches like Bobby Petrino and David Cutcliffe—and, heck, Al Golden—proved it’s not rocket science.

Herbin did not get selected No. 1 in the players’ draft for the Cherry and White game because his teammates like him. He got that honor because he’s a playmaker in the mold of the Seattle Seahawks’ Percy Harvin. The Seahawks find innovative ways to get Harvin the ball. It’s high time for the Owls to find ways to get Herbin the rock.

Herbin did not get selected No. 1 in the players’ draft for the Cherry and White game because his teammates like him. He got that honor because he’s a playmaker in the mold of the Seattle Seahawks’ Percy Harvin. The Seahawks find innovative ways to get Harvin the ball. It’s high time for the Owls to find ways to get Herbin the rock.

Going into the game, I thought players like Matt Ioannidis and Averee Robinson would have so much success inside at blowing up the point of attack that they would stretch the option wide and Temple’s linebackers and ends would have the speed to string the option out to the sideline. Instead, Temple’s linebackers were doing the tackling seven, eight, nine yards downfield because Navy was able to turn the corner time after time. The fullback dive play, which did not work in 2009, worked too much on Saturday.

Not a good sign. Neither was wearing black anything on a 99-degree day. That wasn’t well-thought-out. The school’s colors are cherry and white and there are enough innovative ways to make cherry and white look good. The song doesn’t say “Fight, Fight, Fight or the Cherry and the White … and the black.”

Speaking of speed, it’s also becoming increasingly apparent that until Temple recruits someone with “Bernard Pierce” or “Matty Brown” speed and pedigree, the Owls should consider moving Khalif Herbin—who is faster than both Pierce and Brown were and just as shifty if not moreso—to tailback for at least a few snaps a game as a stopgap measure. No one runs any harder than my favorite Owl, Kenny Harper, but he’d best serve the team as a lead blocking fullback for players like Herbin and Jahad Thomas. Harper can still carry the ball a few times for running plays up the middle.

Herbin did not get selected No. 1 in the players’ draft for the Cherry and White game because his teammates like him. He got that honor because he’s a playmaker in the mold of the Seattle Seahawks’ Percy Harvin. The Seahawks find innovative ways to get Harvin the ball. It’s high time for the Owls to find ways to get Herbin the rock.

All of this can be fixed for the Owls to become the best team they can be. They were not the best team they could have been on Saturday. They have a couple of weeks to tweak and experiment and put the players they have in the best position to win.

This Year’s Chris Coyer?



73 thoughts on “Speed Kills and Speed Would Help

  1. Coach Rhule wasted at least two timeouts early in the second half and should not have run a sped up offense because there were many drives that ended in one or two minutes which resulted in an already tired defense having to go back on the field with little rest on a very hot day. PJ’s interception was painful because he never looked for the safety and not getting the first down on 4th and 1 was a killer. On the positive side, we all said that if the Owls were 1-1 we’d take it. I still say they have to run off tackle and outside more but watching the tight end today the kid can’t block.

  2. what did we learn from today…., wearing black helmets in 99 degree heat is stupid…, Navy executes their offense better than Temple…, PJ is hurt…, our defensive line can get pushed around by sub 300 lb offensive lineman…, Temple receivers drop passes in bunches…, does Temple have a TE who can be a factor? Navy will win the AAC next year…, we can kick FGs!…., we need another BP.., Temple is starting to hit and tackle a lot better than last year…, the Finch kid is “player” …, thank God for the bye week

    • Colin Thompson will be our impact TE when he is healthy. Navy has one of the best O-Lines in the NCAA for run blocking so I wouldnt overreact about our D-Line, esp with how well they performed against Vandy. Navy winning the AAC is a joke, they barely beat us and we are a mid tier AAC team at best. When Navy plays a real schedule then I will take them as serious AAC contenders.

    • the TE who should be a factor will be playing against Uconn. He played for florida the last couple of years.

      • whoops, matt, saw your post after I posted mine. we should upgrade the te, although I heard good things about both guys ahead of thompson now (due to ct’s injury, no doubt).

      • Colin Thompson was at Florida. He didn’t really play there. As far as I can tell he has no stats from Florida and I don’t remember him playing there at least on offense (I am a Florida fan as well). This is especially troubling considering how bad Florida’s offense has been the last two years that he couldn’t crack into some playing time. Then again after watching Florida yesterday it is clear that Brent Pease may not have been the best at identifying and utilizing talent.

      • Thompson was injured much of his tenure at Florida, he was the #2 TE coming out of HS in his class…so I think his talent is fine.

      • So a guy who has been so injury plagued that he leaves the school that was his first choice is going to be fine? If you look at the biggest college busts almost all of them are busts because of injury.

      • I said his “talent” was fine…reading comprehension. Who knows how he will be health wise.

      • Talent is predicated on being healthy.

      • Disagree.

      • So a guy who has been hobbled by injuries is just as talented as some one who is completely healthy? That makes no sense at all.

  3. Why not start Jamie Gilmore? He has easily been the best and most explosive Temple RB and is a threat out of the backfield as well. Just curious why you always omit him from the conversation.

    Sidenote: Everyone on here complained and complained about not QB sneaking against RU, and today we QB sneaked and didnt get it. All other 4th down attempts were either HB draws or QB draws and were successful…just food for thought.

    • Gilmore runs a 4.6 … harper a 4.7 .. jahad thomas is a high 4.59 guy … herbin runs a 4.34 and gained 1,978 yards from scrimmage and scored 43 touchdowns as a high school senior. We need that kind of elite speed in the backfield, even if only for a few snaps a game.

      • Herbin is a perfect guy for sweeps, similar to how the Seahawks used Harvin vs Green Bay, if anyone watched that game. But being an impact RB doesnt require elite speed. LeSean McCoy, aka the best RB in the world, ran a. 4.5 and has probably slowed down since then. Gilmore is explosive with the ball in his hands and has great vision and is very elusive. I hope he gets more touches going forward.

      • I don’t put much stock in 40 times. How fast is the guy in pads, carrying a ball, with guys trying to hurt him.

  4. I don’t think beating a flexbone triple option is about talent, hence why Western Kentucky was able to defeat them. Beating this offense is about playing disciplined assignment football, and out guys did not do that. I have no idea if the players were going off script or if they weren’t prepared for what they were going to see.

  5. As usual I agree with your assessment and thought the owls played a solid game against a talented and extremely well-coached team. Once again I thought we were out-coached during the game, which wasn’t the case last week, and was reminded of the temple tradition of burning time outs before you need them at the end of the game. Here’s how I rate the team.

    Offense: grade C. Their inability to generate any consistent drives in the first half let a smaller navy defense get off the field before they were worn down. This also kept the potent navy offense on the field for what felt like the entire first half and wore down our big men. The second-half showed improvement but execution remained uneven and it felt like we struggled to find a rythym. I thought PJW played well but missed some open throws on touch passes which were reminiscent of Donovan Mcnabb. I remain impressed by the offenses ability to protect the ball and not be plagued by turnovers.

    Defense: grade D. Our guys got shredded and never adjusted to navy’s triple option. The lack of speed on the edges could have been offset if we got pressure up the middle but the D was flat. I was impressed by their continued ability to generate turnovers but when you give up over 500 yards rushing you’re lucky to get a D.

    Btw I’m a big matekevitz fan but I wasn’t even sure he was on the field in the first half.

    Special teams: grade B. I think last years comedy of errors may be behind us. Extra-points are no longer an adventure, kickoffs are deeper and the punt team was consistently solid. It’s also nice to see some kids really rising to the top on that unit.

    Coaching: grade-C. These guys weren’t able to contain the run option at all and didn’t have the team prepared for the second half as evidenced by the TO situation. Phil Snow did nothing to build on last weeks success against the one offense I thought he could stop. I do respect the staff for their aggressive approach to goingbafter fourth downs.

    • Great points tractor and day owl. As I said on an earlier thread on this page the next 2 games will tell us a whole lot about this team and coaching staff.

      • If we find out a whole lot about this coaching staff on the delaware state game, we’re doomed. They must blow the doors of del. state and I mean like 44-7 without any degree of difficulty. the uconn game will tell more. vandy might be a case of temple last year … a team with a whole lot of starters underachieving because of a new coaching staff. No way James Franklin has those guys playing like that.

  6. Navy winning the AAC is a stretch to say the least. By 2016 they will be in the bottom half or worse in the conference. Once the rest of the conference is used to playing them regularly they won’t be able to keep up withe the passing attacks. Plus I get a feeling the rest of the conference will start making some noise about the cut blocking. As Army found out, albeit not as good a team as Navy by any stretch, conference membership will be a decline for Navy football. Their conference schedule is going to be so much tougher than what they play today. I think UCF, ECU, Cincy, etc will start to have their way with Navy. I just don’t understand this attitude that seems to place them in the top echelon of college football.
    As for WKU, Mike you’ve got to read the free Temple blog, that team was super talented on par with Alabama. I’m trying to start any Rhule bashing but there is a faction on that board where they seem to view this staff as the greatest in college football and all problems with the team is the players fault.

    • let’s face it. I hate daz and I think temple is better off with matt than with him … BUT … and this is a big but … in 2011 temple had a national championship dc (who gave the owls back to back shutouts) and a national championship OC (Scot Loeffler, who is kicking Ohio State’s ass tonight as an Oc). Nobody …NOBODY .. can say satterfield and snow are 1/10th as good as those guys, not even Matt Rhule if he’s being honest. A lot of good football people who I have known and trusted for years say Matt is up to the job but I wonder if the loyalty to his under-qualified (by comparison) underlings is causing him to do more work than he should and more harm to Temple than an OC and DC should.

      • I don’t get the Satterfield hate….we almost broke the school record for YPG last season. The offense is far from the problem and wasn’t last year either. I know people will complain that we throw mostly screens and slants but that’s what happens when all your receivers are under 6′ ft tall. Last year, we threw plenty of deep balls to Anderson, so I think Satterfield is adapting nicely to the roster we currently have.

    • Watch them lose to Texas State next week. Not saying they will, but I don’t think TS will give them 470 yards or more …

  7. But it is refreshing to see that you appear to be warming up to Rhule…atta boy.

    • For the most part in the 2 games this year Rhule seems to be maturing as a head coach. Ok ther were some clock management issues in the second half but again that kind of stuff will get better. Satterfield, don’t know, young guy that seems to have potential. As for Snow, hey the guy was a very good DC at ASU and for one year at UCLA. My problem with him is can someone show me a defense this century that he left in better shape then before he came on board? That wasn’t the case at UCLA, Washington or EMU.

    • No hate. I know Scot Loeffler. Marcus Satterfield is no Scot Loeffler. Better than Ryan Day, yes. Loeffler, no.

  8. OMG…., Navy will finish the season ranked higher than any AAC team…, they execute their offense better than any other AAC team, plus they have talent, speed, and great coaching…, don’t hate on their schedule., genius on their part…, they have their own stadium and they put butts in the seats.., we should learn from programs that are better than ours…, what are Navy’s bowl and attendance records over the last 10 years, and how does it compare to ours?…,

    any news on a Temple stadium btw? should the university really invest in a stadium when the attendance has averaged less than 25K over the last five years?

    • Kj, not disagreeing as far as where Navy is today and playing an independent schedule. My point is I think they will lose a lot of the, for lack of a better term, “surprise” factor of their triple option attack when they are conference members. Even though they will be the only AAC member using that offense, it will become a regular part of every teams practice and game planning. Now most teams dedicate a week going against thw truple option every couple of years. There is a reason other teams don’t use it anymore. Plus, I don’t hate on their schedule, just saying it will be tougher than what they play now. Sorry the AAC may not be P5 but I do think it’s stronger than the Sun Belt

    • Heard today that Lurie wants 27 million and 15M upfront but the reason the BOT not making the announcement is that they want a return on their football investment. If they get another losing season this year, they could ditch both stadiums (Linc and Owl Stadium) for a return to FF, which would be cheaper. Winning season and they are more likely to move in the direction of a stadium. Can’t wait around forever to win. Got to win now.

      • If those numbers are true then it’s a no brainer about not staying at the Linc. Still think we go 6-6 this year and a bowl. Hopefully that will be enough for the BOT. Sorry for sounding like a broken record but I think Delaware State and Uconn will tell us a whole lot more about the rest of the season than roday

      • I see 6-6 as an entirely reasonable goal this season. We will need to see improvements in various stages of the game to go beyond that record. This team will certainly be better than last year’s team.

    • Heard that they are seriously considering building a stadium because the Eagles want for a five year deal 15 mil up front plus 2 1/2 mil a year. Little extortionate isn’t it.

      • Hope that is the case if Temple is unable to renew at the Linc, to me only real alternative. Just don’t want to end up at FF.
        That seems par for the course for Lurie

    • Cincinnati, ECU, and UCF would destroy Navy. Navy will finish the season without being any legitimate teams…grats to them.

      • I am not so sure about that. Navy hung around until the 4th quarter with OSU and sure OSU lost to Va Tech yesterday but is that really that surprising as Va Tech seems to be due in for a good season (they seem to make a run every 3 or 4 years with Beamer).

  9. If you really examine navy’s schedule, great coaches (petrino, cutcliffe, etc.) are able to beat them with lesser talent pretty consistently. Heck, even the Toledo coach (Matt Campbell) beat them last year. Why not Temple? The teams Navy beats pretty consistently are the ones with the lower-profile coaches (June Jones, SMU, rich ellerson, army). occasionally, a Notre Dame …. but not often.

  10. We can now bash Snow again. What a joke this week. At least they came back and made it close. Any idea on the attendance?

    • I’m not a Snow fan but I am going to hold off bashing until after the Tulsa game. Disappointed in the defense today but looking at how they played against Vandy my hope is that Snow has rely worked on tailoring this defense for the AAC. If the Temple D gets gashed by Uconn, who has very little team speed and Tulsa, then I’ll be at the front of the Snow must go line. For me he has to shown he has at least a some of what he did at ASU left in the tank.

    • Though I do not like Snow and do not think he is up to this job. It is unclear whether he is to blame for this game or not. I mean he is at least partially to blame, but if the players are not keeping assignment integrity you are going to lose to a triple option flexbone team. This is why sometimes even the best teams lose to this offense. If you start to over-pursue they will burn you. Now Navy might not win all those games but they put up a lot of points on great defenses. Their entire game plan is put up points and hope the other team can’t put up more. Yesterday our offense was off and you see what happened.

  11. wow, think there had to be another 1k who stayed and partied in the parking lot….,going back to FF would really be sad and 5 steps back for the program…, first time I’ve seen the parking lot really trashed w/beer bottles, cans, charcoal etc btw

    • the danger of losing an opening game is the first game is traditionally the largest student turnout of the season. when we lose openers, they don’t come back. del state is going to be a ghost town. we should have had enough speed to force them to the sidelines more than we did. it seemed like we allowed them to get to the corner. poor effort. poor coaching.

      • Don’t know if the Delaware State game wouldn’t be a ghost town even if we had won yesterday. As for speed on defense, it does seem it’s there on the first team at least. Don’t know how much you can look at that as a key reason for the poor defensive or how much was a scheme that didn’t work out. The ends seemed to be constantly pinching to the inside rather than take outside contain, plus there were a good number of run blitzes that just “guessed” wrong

      • The thing I kept seeing was we would get to the sideline but no one would cover the cut back lane. Those cutback lanes were the real killers even if they weren’t the scoring plays. You have to have your players spread all the way across the field on those plays and the first guy just has to slow down the runner and wait for backup.

      • I am with you about the importance of the first game Mike. I was standing in the student line and a large group of undergrads was joking about “going to a college game” and about how it was a lesser experience than a college game. Sorry but going to a game at PSU, OSU, Michigan, Florida, LSU, Texas, UGA, USC, Oregon or any of the other great venues of college football is not a lesser experience than a pro game. I would argue that a good college stadium is way better than a pro game. I went to UF as an undergrad and I have been to an Eagles game. Imagine the 4th quarter of a close Eagles game but for an entire game. That is what seeing Florida play LSU, FSU, or Bama in the Swamp is like. Much of the problem for Temple is it is a bit of vicious cycle. Temple games aren’t that exciting so fans don’t come so the games aren’t that exciting. I was shouting on third down but I couldn’t help but think last week Navy played in the horseshoe does anyone really think this tiny bit of noise is bothering them?

  12. If Herbin runs 4.3 then he should at least be able to get to the 20 on kickoff returns. He seems to be barely making it to the 15 yard line..

  13. Did you add that part about Herbin being comparable to Harvin after I wrote it? Or did I just miss it the first time?

  14. u missed it the first time ..

  15. not sure why Temple doesn’t give high schools, churches, and other non-profits tickets for a few bucks? we need all the fans we can get…, yea there would be the possibility of scalping etc but the benefits far exceed the risks! what better way to build a fan base and connect with the city than to provide them a college game day experience at a substantial discount? heck, the pre-game parking lot show by the band would be worth the few bucks…, I just don’t understand it…, why can’t we set a goal for every game and give 10K tickets to non-profits for a few bucks per ticket?

    give Temple props for coming back..,, during the third quarter I actually thought the final score would be 41-20…,,PJ is hurt and can’t set his feet and push off due to the bum ankle…, sit him out the next game….., we are in serious trouble at the safety position…., do we lead the nation in dropped passes? do anyone know how many dropped passes we have suffered the first two games, and how does that compare to the number of average dropped passes per game last year? are we making any progress in catching the football?

    • didn’t notice the drops at vanderbilt, but we’re falling back to 2012 habits against navy. herbin is not a wide receiver. he made NJ Player of the Year for his ability to run the ball from the line of scrimmage. He caught almost no passes his senior year for a reason. why we keep trying to put square (rb) pegs into round (wr) holes is mystifying. put the square peg in the square hole and the round pegs in the round holes. You’ll be surprised how much success follows.

    • They have given tickets away for years. People just don’t care. That’s why a win yesterday was vitally important. People who attended for the first time had to have left saying they’re the same old Temple.

  16. *does anyone know..,

  17. Is PJs hurt ankle why he over threw receivers so many times? If so, he deserves a break, but inconsistency and just not clicking together made the Offense sputter at the wrong times. But, on the other hand, Temple came back and made a game of it – and I guess that’s promising. But “not seeing the triple option a lot is no excuse for the D. They have played against it every year and should no how to defend it – at least better than yesterday.
    Mike, you mentioned Owl Stadium to “ditch.” I thought the school sold that property up on Cheltenham Ave. years ago. No? If the school can spend millions on practice fields and locker room redo’s, why not spend a few million to fix up old Temple (Owl) Stadium as an interim situation? It would be a lot less expensive as a one shot expense instead of an outrageous ongoing expense renting the Linc. Although using FF could suffice too. I don’t understand your negativety about FF, but as an interim situation at least, why not? Its a handsome venue and much less expensive than the Linc, until the BOT can make up their mind about an on-campus facility.

    • problem with FF is it changes the public’s perception of the university’s overall commitment to Temple football. People will think the uni could abandon plans to build the stadium and use it as a stopgap measure until they decide to drop the sport. bad message. It’s a dump with no dedicated subway line (without transfering another subway entirely) to the main campus. we did sell temple stadium. by “owl stadium” I meant the proposed new stadium. extend the linc lease until the doors of the new stadium are ready to open. no to ff at any cost.

    • The stadium was torn down when the property was purchased by a church. A turfed field sits there now and it’s used by youth teams. TU had a spring scrimmage there.

  18. Maybe I missed a comment but what’s up with Zaire Williams? Wasn’t he a pretty big recruit. Had a few touches against Vandy and I don’t think I saw him yesterday. On a side note – ever been a 80 degree difference between home games?? Froze against UCONN – melted yesterday!!

    • good point, tim. I forgot how cold uconn was … still it wasn’t half as cold as the eagle bank bowl. that will always be the standard for cold. temperature at kickoff of the three Temple bowls of my lifetime: Garden State (40 degrees), Eagle Bank (21 with minus-11 wind/chill), New Mexico (45 degrees). At this rate, we’ll probably end 6-6 and in the Pinstripe. I’ll take Tampa and Beef O’Brady instead (got to win 8 for that).

  19. oh, and rhule said “zaire williams was banged up” before the vandy game. He looked OK running against vandy late in the game. depends upon your definition of “banged up” is …

  20. First let me say Streater did a great job in Oakland this weekend. Very proud that he represents our program as a winning Temple Tuff Alumni.

    Okay now to the gritty. Rhule didn’t learn from last year. Still can’t make in-game adjustments. The sides were open for the run most of the game. The outside passes in the beginning worked, but we never worked the ball out from there minus one ill-timed deep threat. Instead of adapting he relied on the golden Rhule: run, run, pass, punt. Rinse and repeate it seems. Navy played a strong (and tight) box in the middle. Why did we keep cramming it to force a 3rd down pass?

    Defense did a great job in my opinion. We won the turnover battle, which in football lore means a decent chance at winning. Temple cannot ride on the backs of the defense the entire season. At some point the offense needs to get going. P.J. looked shakey with some passes, but I’ve got a lot of faith in him as a player.

    Any idea on the attendence numbers? Given the heat it looked like a nice turnout.

    • 28K … we had 31K for Navy the last time they were in town but that was an early-season night game and we draw better in early-season night games. Great post, Ben, and great points–especially, the run, run, pass, punt point. I thought Daz came back there for a few series. Very unimaginative. We need to get more out of the tailback position. I would first try Harper as a lead-blocking fullback for Gilmore and if Gilmore cannot do the job, Harper leads for Khalif Herbin. We need speed and explosiveness at that position and those 2 guys are my best hope for now. Hopefully, we can recruit Samir Bullock from Archbishop Ryan.

    • Can’t run up the middle with eight in the box and such narrow line splits. Would like to see a two-back set every now and then with a lead back sometimes or a fake to one back and a hand off to the second back. Need to run some sweeps and off tackle plays as well. Also, this team does not have any pass strategy for the part of the field 15-30 yards from the line of scrimmage. Maybe that will change when the tight end transfer from FLA. is ready to play.

  21. Garden State bowl was in the twenties. It was as cold that day as the bowl in Washington but it wasn’t as windy.

  22. June Jones resigned from SMU after a 0-2 start…that was awful quick. That team showed promise that year but has looked dreadful so far.

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