Will We Finally See a Few Play-Action Passes?

Nick Foles fakes it to Shady here and finds a window to Jeremy Maclin. The same would work if P.J. Harper starts using Kenny Harper's belly.

Nick Foles fakes it to Shady here and finds a window to Jordan Matthews. The same would work if P.J. Harper starts using Kenny Harper’s belly and finds, say, Jalen Fitzpatrick.

Watching the first three games, either in person or on TV, something occurred to me: I have not seen a true play-action pass this season.
Most of the Owls’ offense against both Navy and Vanderbilt consisted of flare passes left and right and deep passes into double-coverage. A true play-action pass, the kind that is the meat and potatoes of the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense (above), has been missing. To me, faking it into Kenny Harper’s belly, leaving Kenny in as an extra blocker, is a win-win for Temple. It causes the linebackers to crowd the line of scrimmage and respect the run and creates open passing windows for P.J. Walker. Those windows, particularly in the open area in the middle of the field 15-30 yards down field, have been slammed shut because Temple almost never shows a play-action look. Plus, Harper staying in as a blocker protects Temple’s most valuable commodity, P.J. Walker.

Troubling Temple Stats

 

Total Off. 3d down conv. Passing Off. Rushing Offense
95th nat/7th AAC 121 nat/10th AAC 89th nat/7th AAC 75th nat/10th AAC
 

Maybe I was missing something so I viewed the entire Delaware State replay (fast-forwarding through the commercial breaks).  I found one “semi” play-action, where P.J. faked in the general direction of a running back. It’s hard to sell a run that way. Gotta stick it in the runner’s belly and pull it out (see above, where that created a window for Nick Foles to hit Jordan Matthews). As it is now, P.J. has no windows to throw into and the results are not as pretty as they should be.
Also like to see one of the speedier Temple backs, say Jamie Gilmore, FOLLOW Harper through a hole. That way, he gets the benefit not only from offensive line blocks but from Harper’s dynamic blocking ability. If the Owls need the tough yardage inside, make the fake to Gilmore one way and give it to Harper up the middle.
Again, a win-win for Temple.

More play-action passing might not raise those national offensive stats, but as they say about a cold and chicken soup, it could not hurt.

and another example of how faking to Harper could help pry open a window for Fitzpatrick ....

and another example of how faking to Harper could help pry open a window for Fitzpatrick ….

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20 thoughts on “Will We Finally See a Few Play-Action Passes?

  1. Don’t disagree with what you’re saying Mike, rarely do. But even with a bum ankle, PJ makes some bad decisions and overthrows receivers too many times – TWO interceptions against Del. State? C’mon. He sure has talent but talent plus mistakes equals mediocrity. I’ve said it before, he needs to settle down and stop forcing things to happen. This is Div. 1-A, not high school where talent alone can make one a star. By the way, what were his stats in HS? Did he make mistakes then too – TDs vs interceptions? Smart play this weekend and the Owls should get a solid win – 2-3 touchdown margin? Anything less than a win, no matter how close, is unacceptable the way the D has been playing. But UConn is no Del. State, so it could be tight. Go Owls.

  2. Like I said on facebook, to run pass action successfully, there has to be a good running game for it to succeed. Can’t say that that has been the case. Also, I was concerned with the overthrow of Herbin. Brought back bad memories of Chester Stewart, who may hold the collegiate record for overthrows.

    • At least when Chester Stewart was here we had Pierce and Brown to carry the load. Also had a TE in Rodriquez who was a key part of the offense. So far in 2 seasons this offensive scheme seems to have no clue about using the TE. Hopefully, as James posts below Thompson can start utilizing the middle of the field on pass routes.

  3. To run play action you either have to be committed to the run or have an ability to run the ball. I am not sure which but Temple has not displayed any commitment or ability to run successfully. As for the Eagles, you have to respect the run because of Shady’s ability. We have no such player. In addition, on the read option, PJ never faked the handoff and took off around the end against Delaware State. Either Rhule kept it vanilla or he didn’t want PJ taking any risks on a bum ankle. If the TE transfer from Florida is able to play this week, he may be able to stretch the middle of the field and open up some running lanes. If not, we gotta watch that dink and dunk offense.

    • I think Gilmore can be that back that commands respect, but he needs another blocker to follow through the hole. Bernard Pierce had Wyatt Benson. The slippery Kevin Duckett had Mark Bright. Heisman Trophy finalist Paul Palmer had Shelley Poole. You get the drift. Great running games have those kinds of great combinations. To me, Kenny Harper is WAY more valuable as a blocker than he is as a runner. He proved that as a freshman. If they give Gilmore Harper as a lead blocker, he becomes exponentially more effective. Don’t know why they are married to Harper as the starting tailback. He’s probably the second-slowest tailback in the AAC (Uconn’s is slower). A lot of Temple’s problems can be traced to Satterfield not knowing recent Temple history, like Harper’s blocking ability as a freshman, like Matty Brown’s successful switch from a 5-5, 150 slot receiver to all-time great running back, like Chris Coyer’s ability to throw the ball off fakes, etc. This is where Matt Rhule must show some gonads, step in, and tell him to change things up on offense. Have not seen one iota of evidence in 2 seasons of Rhule intervening to fix problems caused by an underling. Ninety-seventh (97th) in total offense is a problem that can be easily fixed by the play-action play, Harper being switched to fullback and Herbin getting at least a handful of carries following blockers out of the backfield. Those are easy fixes that even Stevie Wonder can see.

  4. If you have Comcast Cable TV, go to the promo for this Saturday’s game. It says: The Owls fly north following a win their return to Big East play, with Boston College transfer Montel Harris leading the ground attack. UConn coach Paul Paqualoni faces his long-ago assistant in Temple’s Steve Addazio.
    Talk about no respect.

      • As one who watched the Wayne Hardin coached Temple teams I am bothered by the lack of imagination in the offense. You are right about the running game and the problems with the passing game, but the real problem seems to be a lack of that quality that Hardin brought to the offense. Run when they think you are going to pass, pass when they think you are going to run. Always have enough variety in the plays to keep the otherside off balance.

  5. Satterfield and Rhule seems to believe that after executing several successful running plays, it’s a surprise to throw a bomb. Rhule did that when he worked for Golden and did it against Navy. How about trying pass action, a screen or a draw. Besides, if it doesn’t work, the team is saddled with a second or third and long. Coaches don’t realize that if a certain play is working, stick with and win. Good coaches are those that win not those who try to impress people with their imaginative play calling.

    • that thinking DIRECTLY led to the losses to Fordham and Idaho, the line of thinking that Rhule and Satterfield were going to do what they wanted to do and not tailor the offense to attack the weaknesses of the opponent. I guess that’s what made those two so successful at Western Carolina. Oh wait. They never WERE successful at WC? Never mind.

  6. Ok, so if PJ’s problem is more ill-conceived offense, than PJ needs to throw the ball out of bounds, not forcing it into double coverage or whatever. I still think he tries to make things happen when its not a good idea sometimes. As far as dink and dunk, I’d rather see that if it uses up the clock, with no turnovers and some scores rather than long throws that get intercepted.

    • P.J. is just running the play he’s being told to run. If you look at the interceptions, there really is no other receiver in the pattern. Where are the other guys? Are they all being kept into block and one receiver sent? It’s like me when I get on SEPTA. Where are all these SEPTA cops I keep hearing about? Never see one. Every other offense has a receiver running down one side while another guy runs down another side. All of our other receivers are at the proverbial donut shop. Maybe that’s why we are 121 in third-down conversions.

  7. That may be true Mike but PJ has to show some discretion and either eat the ball or throw it out of bounds. If the play’s not there, he can’t force the play This Saturday’s first interception was due to an underthrow. Had he thrown the ball to the corner, it would not have been intercepted and may have been caught because the receiver did have a step on the defender who ran in front of the receiver to intercept the ball. What I don’t like is the way they run the read option. It appears that it’s aimed at the middle of the line instead of off-tackle. Watch how Oregon runs it. Mariota always seems to have space to run outside the tackle.

  8. Sounds like last years offense was productive due to Ansersen and Walker’s connection in spite of the coaching staff!! I think the question is do we having a coaching staff that has the capability of maximizing the talent available to not only win games the team “should” but to steal one from a better team or do we have good recruiters who the majority of the wins will come from those cases where Temple talent is better than the opposition. There seems to be a “Field of Dreams” like mantra by some of the rabid supporters of Rhule of “recruit them and we will win”.
    In the first case you have a team that is competing for the AAC championship. Getting into contention for the playoff system. Maybe even start averaging 30-40K attendance for say a Delaware State game.
    In the second, I think we end up with a team similar to our experience in the MAC, a winning team say 6 to 9 wins a years, consistently beating teams like UConn, Tulsa, SMU (this year), USF, Memphis, win most or at worst split ooc games and go to bowls like the Military Bowl, Miami Beach, etc.

    • My two favorite coaches of all time were Mike Pettine Sr. (the Browns’ coach’s dad) and coach Hardin, not necessarily in that order, because they found the key to unlock all of their players’ potential and beyond. Almost to a game, they would beat all of the teams they were supposed to beat and reach up and upset quite a few more talented teams. Pettine was amazing in that he took a team of (90 percent) 5-10, 170-pound white kids and drilled them into a precision unit that executed so flawlessly they were impossible to beat. Hardin was the best coach on the field that day against everybody he coached against, period, end of story. When you hear Temple is recruiting “great” and still ranked No. 4 in the conference, you need a coach who can elevate the talent 4 levels. I pray every night Matt Rhule becomes that coach. He’s not now.

  9. don’t think we have seen the real PJ so far this year.., he is playing hurt and minus any real gamebreaking weapon on offense. our O-Line is not big, strong, or explosive off the ball.., which helps to explain the lack of a running game. however they can and have been doing an excellent job at pass blocking…, UCONN game spells trouble, their defense will hold our offense to under three TDs…., Temple needs a big play threat at the WR position, and a TE who can force attention from the safeties

    • Is Uconn better than Vandy? Don’t think so. Is Uconn better than Stony Brook? Barely. This is a statement game for Temple. Must win 23-10. No overtime.

      • Agree with you on this one Mike, UConn’s defense is ok, not as good as last year and aside from freshman really lack overall team speed. If Temple is improving in the conference this year the game is a must win.

  10. The stats are somewhat misleading. Temple has only played one game with all of our starters playing the entire game (vs. Navy). In that game, we managed to total almost 400 yards…even with PJ struggling. Against Vandy, we played more of a clock management time game because of the massive lead we attained early in the second half and against Del. State our offense barely played due to all the turnovers, defensive TDs, and special teams TDs. As a result, both the Vandy and Del State game negatively effected our YPG, which I expect to increase now that we will be playing real competiton.

    We are averaged 40 PPG after all (33rd in the nation), but better yet…we are 9th in the nation in points allowed at 12.7 PPG.

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