In Search of a Home Run Hitter

For what seemed to be forever, even in bad seasons, Temple football always had a guy who you could hand the ball off to and put the fear in the minds of the defense that he has the speed and explosiveness to take it to the house on any given down.

The Owls went from guys Anthony Anderson and Zack Dixon and Kevin Duckett to guys like Paul Palmer and Todd McNair to guys like Elmarko Jackson and Stacy Mack to Jason McKie and Tanardo Sharps to the more recent vintage of Bernard Pierce, Matty Brown and Montel Harris.

You could call Temple ‘][‘ailback U.

That really has not existed the last two seasons. Sure, getting Archbishop Ryan’s under-recruited star, Samir Bullock–whose running style is shocking similar to Pierce’s–would solve the problem, but that solution is a year away if at all.

Nobody bitched after Matty Brown switched; I have a strong feeling the same would happen if Khalif switched, too.

Nobody bitched after Matty Brown switched; I have a strong feeling the same would happen if Khalif switched, too.

It’s not like Temple is waiting to recruit the next BP, because I believe he’s currently in the house and that’s between Khalif Herbin, Jamie Gilmore, Zach Thomas and David Hood. Supposedly at least two of those players are getting a fair tryout at running the football this week. I believe all  should get at least five handoffs from scrimmage against Delaware State and whomever emerges from the pack–both literally and figuratively–should get the job going forward. For some reason, whether they are banged up or not, Temple’s other backs have not shown the speed to get to the corner.  I don’t know what happened to Zaire Williams but seeing him getting caught from behind at SMU on a sure touchdown last year was an eye-opener. That wouldn’t have happened to Pierce or Brown.

To me, the offensive line is not a great concern. They had a bad game against Navy, but they pushed around a defensive line at Vanderbilt that had some success last year in the SEC.

The big concern on the offense is finding a true Temple Tailback U guy to follow the blocks of that offensive line (and  maybe even fullback Kenny Harper) to explosive gains downfield. Establishing the running game would open up the play-action passing game of P.J. Walker. Right now, Temple’s passing game seems to be locked into throwing little flares out of the backfield and into double-coverage in the  end zone.

Herbin won the New Jersey State Player of the Year Award in 2011–a year before P.J. Walker won it–for his ability to run the ball from the line of scrimmage, yet the Owl coaches insist on putting him at receiver, a position he’s had no success in the past. That was Al Golden’s plan for Matty Brown, to convert him from successful running back to the new position of slot  receiver, before Pierce’s NCAA clearinghouse issues prompted Golden to use him at his more natural position of RB. Brown, who is smaller and slower than Herbin, held onto that position for the rest of his career. Temple fans were glad his talents were not wasted at slot receiver. That move helped Golden become a million-dollar coach.

All Herbin needs is the same chance. I hope he gets it against Del. State and, err, runs with it.


24 thoughts on “In Search of a Home Run Hitter

  1. From your mouth to Coach Rhule’s ears. Harper, a good player, is not a tail back: too slow and lacks moves. Increasing the line splits and running a two back set would work to better the running game. Without a running game, the passing game is doomed. The quick outs Rhule loves basically are running plays designed to get 4-5 yards.

  2. the thing that made al golden a great coach was not gameday but the moves he made the other days of the week. he realized a quarterback trying to find a 5-5 guy through a maze of arms was probably not the best use of Matt Brown’s extraordinary talent. I wonder if our coaches are too stubborn to change.

  3. BP looked good last, a real running back. Bill Parcells said the only constant measure of a running is performance. They come in all sizes, styles, speed, quickness, etc…., the only thing you can measure is performance. We need a performer at the RB position who has the ability to take it to the house on any given carry…, nobody on our team has that ability, including Herbin. You would think RB would be a recruiting priority

    • Herbin has that ability. They haven”t given him a chance to show it. He’s better than Matt Brown was but at this rate, we’ll never know. No better team to build up his confidence against than del. state, then watch him do it against uconn as well. if they don’t give him a chance, we are doomed to 2-3-4 yard gains on running plays all season.

  4. Mike, think you are wrong about Herbin..,great kid and high school star but there is a reason, outside of coaching, why doesn’t get more touches.., can’t believe all the press Daz gets at BC.., what have they done? and why all of a sudden is he being marketed as a great coach? I don’t get it..,

    • my worst fear is that the kid will never get a chance to show his stuff playing slot receiver. what IF Al Golden kept Matty Brown at slot receiver his entire career? Kid might have gotten thrown to five times a game and made one catch for 7 yards in a typical game. The light bulb went off in Al’s head that Matt could make a helluva running back and Matt became one of the all-time rushers in temple history. When will the light bulb go off in this staff’s head?

  5. I realized that Bobby Wallace was a bad coach when he changed the offense to read option scheme the year after Tanardo Sharps led the Big East in rushing. Not only did it take Sharps out of the offense, offense required Mike McGann, a pure pocket passer, to do things he was incapable of doing. I hope Rhule gets better soon because in my mind so far he’s just a nicer Bobby Wallace.

    The significance of the win against Vandy has been greatly diminished the last two weeks by the play of Vandy who today barely got by a weak UMass team. By the way, East Carolina and Cincy are going to have field days against our defense.

    • So us getting scored on and losing to the top two teams in the AAC makes Rhule a bad coach? Sigh.

      • He just hasn’t hired a good staff. Let’s face facts. Oc from Tennn-chat and DC from eastern michigan. they are his friends, though. a lot of the other guys are damn good recruiters but most of them are promoted GAs in over their heads on gameday. Ken Niumatalolo schooled them. He did not school Golden and D’Onofrio.

      • I know Snow sucks but again, why does Satterfield get criticism??? And I love the notion that good coaches can’t come from small schools…where do you think most successful coaches start?

  6. hardest thing for a young team to do is to play their best football on back to back weekends.., so hats off to East Carolina for scheduling So Carolina, Va Tech, and No Carolina on consecutive weekends. eyes shut why Temple scheduled Penn State and Cincy on back to back weekends…, Cincy vs Ohio St is the biggest game of the year for the AAC.., UConn will give Temple trouble…, and Toledo will out score us…, real good time for the Temple coaching staff to step up and stop blaming the players for poor execution…, defense has to keep generating turnovers…, make FGs, hang on to the football, no more stupid penalties…, shutout DState and run up the score!

    • Really hope that doesn’t turn out to be the case with UConn and Tulsa, if this team is struggling against those 2 AAC opponents then I will say this program isn’t showing improvement over last year. Was I expecting Temple to win the AAC this year, no but I am expecting a team that is at least positioning itself several teams away from the bottom. The worst part about Cincy’s standing in the conference and watching RU in the Big 10 tonight is realizing that at least through the Arians era we were basically on par with these programs. If Temple doesn’t start making some move up the conference ladder this I fear it could be the start of another long term drought. As I’ve said in previous posts I really believe the next 3 games are going to tell us a whole lot about this team and the direction the program is heading

  7. Mike, I think we get by now that you think Herbin should be a RB…considering this is your 1000th post about the topic. While I agree that he could be a playmaking RB, we already one in Gilmore and potentially Zaire if he ever gets healthy. Plus, we will see what Hood and Dixon can do against DSU. We have very little playmaking talent at WR and I think thats the reason why we are trying to have him stick as a slot receiver.

    And didn’t Herbin’s success in HS come as a running QB? Pretty different animal from being an RB in the AAC. Not saying he can’t do it, but the coaches see a lot more than we ever will at practice.

    • I’ve been asked to trust bad coaches for 30 years. Not doing it anymore. I got a Masters in football from Hardin. even golden showed me he would make a guy “like” Herbin a running back. don’t see the explosive speed from gilmore or williams I had hoped for. don’t think i ever will.

      • I get what you are saying, but, I think Rhule has made a lot of good positional and depth chart decisions. He moved LBs to DEs to generate pass rush and isn’t afraid to start true freshman when they earned the spot. IMO, Herbin is best used on sweeps or stretch runs around 5 times a game but we need his playmaking ability at WR too. We have a much bigger need at WR than RB.

  8. Mike, great point about the coaches on the staff promoted up from GA. I had made a point once that somewhere along the doesn’t a coach have to coach. All you saw from the “Rhule Apologists”, and I don’t mean people who want him to do well, we all do or who supported his hiring. All they would mention is that this guy is a great recruiter, or this has solid connections in the western part of the state, etc. All well and good but once spring practice opens and the season begins you need a staff that can teach technique, put together game plans focused on the opposition and make adjustments during the game. At this point I think a number if this staff are stil getting on the job training

    • both Hardin and Arians would occasionally rise up and beat a real good team are not supposed to beat and hardin pretty much beat all of the teams he was supposed to beat. Vandy is basically UMass. Not a real good team. all I ask for is a temple coach to do what Hardin did. Beat everybody they should and occasionally jump up and beat someone real good they weren’t supposed to beat. a del. state, tulsa and uconn sweep is the minimum expectation. minimum.

  9. JD, great points…., this coaching staff has to answer a few questions. Do they have the ability to make average players good, and good players great? Do they have the ability to make in game adjustments? And in absence of team seniors, can they keep the team fired up and inspired? big credit to our O-line and PJ because although there is depth at WR and RB, neither position has shown any play on Sunday type talent. no playmakers or breakaway threats, Herbin is not the answer.

    believe fans will come see exciting and winning football, if Rhule can build it they will come…

    • Herbin is not the answer at slot receiver. we have a guy at slot receiver who can do all the things Herbin can do and his name is Jalen Fitzpatrick. We have nobody in the backfield who can take a simple handoff and be a threat to take it to the house. Herbin can be that threat. If you put him at slot receiver, P.J. is never going to find him.

  10. This is a young team, with some talent and another solid recruting class coming together as we build for the future. I watched Pete Lembo struggle to close out a game against Iowa and Bob Diaco is sturggling in his first year at UConn. Not easy taking over a program that doesn’t have great tradition and rebuilding the brand name. Rhule and company are doing ok in my book, he’s not Joe Paterno but he’s not Bobby Wallace either. In college football, talent trumps great coaching and Rhule is demonstrating he can recruit. Great players make great timely plays.PJ will become a great player as he matures. There will be ups and down this year with anywhere from 5-7 wins. Temple is gonna be really good next year and the year after. We are definetly on the right track but we somehow have to put more butts in the seats or downsize the size of the stadium we play in to 30k-35k. Putting 28k in Lincoln Financial Field looks horrific.

    • Ball State closing on Iowa is totally different than Diaco (another assistant turned head coach) struggling in his first year. Lembo is the real deal as a head coach. Not quite sure Diaco or Rhule ever will be.

    • James, I agree with a lot of what you point out but I do think coaching is more important then you infer. Unless you are recruiting great talent all from the same school, coaching needs to mold a lot if individual talent into a team. I know this is a dead horse but I think the Fordham game illustrated that better talent alone, and pleas don’t say Temple’s talent wasn’t better than Fordham who with most of the same team lost to Villanova 50-6, doesn’t win games. If Temple is going to move to the top of the AAC the differentiator is going to have to be coaching as teams like Cincy, UCF, ECU, etc. will have the same level of talent.

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