Finally, the Boise State of the East

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Two years into Al Golden’s rebuild of the Temple football program, someone walked up to him and asked him what he envisioned the Owls program could be in five years.

Golden thought about it for a moment and said: “I think we can be the Boise State of the East.”

Street near the Owls' hotel in downtown Hartford.

Street near the Owls’ hotel in downtown Hartford. Photo courtesy of the “real” Dave Gerson (aka, Owlified)

It’s only a little late, but Golden’s vision seems to be coming true under Matt Rhule, one of his apprentices. Consider this: The Owls’ 36-10 win at UConn on Saturday was every bit as dominating as Boise State’s 38-21 win at Uconn two weeks ago and even moreso.

The Owls were bigger, faster, stronger and played like a program who has eyes on a championship, all things Boise has done out west. There is still much left to do for this team to reach its potential. One of the things that made Golden’s good teams so effective was a punishing running game and the Owls have not been able to develop one four games into this season.

Does that mean we won’t see one?

I find that hard to believe because one of the things that Rhule should understand was successful running backs like Bernard Pierce and Matty Brown ran behind not only a big offensive line but a dynamic blocking fullback in Wyatt Benson (who still has a year of eligibility left if he’s in the neighborhood). Kenny Harper, in a part-time fullback role as a freshman, proved he’s every bit the blocker Benson was.

Marcus Satterfield, the current offensive coordinator, does not know that but Rhule does and he’s the CEO. The buck stops with him and if the Owls are finally going to develop a championship offense, they need a running game and the personnel is here to do it. Two weeks of tweaking to Tulsa are ahead and that would be a nice time to unveil one.

Video highlights:

Uconn fan reaction:

Uconn game story:


36 thoughts on “Finally, the Boise State of the East

  1. Mike – think our O-line does a great job at pass blocking, but they are not the same type of players we had in the AG/BP years.., completely different skill set.., the read option is the only hope at a running game.., Tulsa can protect the passer and throw the football.., this will be a great test for our defense.

    UCONN sucks and they still put 27,000 in the stands.., Temple has got to man up and start putting more butts in the seats.., this Temple team is developing a little juice and swagger, really fun to watch.. GO OWLS, BEAT TULSA!

  2. Boise State was 129-15 2002 through 2012. Temple is 1-0 in the American. I can see the comparison.

  3. The Owls have to change their running philosophy and run plays attacking the line directly. They also should have some 2 back plays and counter plays like those UConn ran in the beginning of the game. Running East-West can work if the running back has superior speed, something which our backs don’t seem to have. Hope the Owls don’t lose faith regarding Herbin because he is the only one I’ve seen with the ability to return kicks for tds. The way the d has played in three of the games makes the Navy loss that much more perplexing.

    • I highly doubt they give up on Herbin, at least not permanently. He fumbled two punts and Rhule still put him back out for the 2nd half kickoff…so if that doesn’t show confidence in him or having his back, I don’t know what would. I expect him to either be immediately put back there or given a couple games to gather himself.

    • Good point about the Navy game, especially with their loss to WKU today. That being said it does look like Phil Snow has gotten some of his mojo back from the days he was running the defense at ASU. If you look at his defenses then, similar style, strong pass rush, more speed over size and generated a lot of turnovers. After watching Tulane-Rutgers and Tulsa-Texas St if this defense continues playing this way they should be 2 more in the win column.

      • WKU beat Navy last year so it isn’t that surprising they won in a close game today. WKU gave up almost 500 yards to Navy, but Reynolds was just horrible as a passed today.

  4. Other than the Owls, AAC got its ass kicked today.

  5. Mike, first let me say you’ve got to pick a lane on MR and co. Last year you were a harsh critic, as was I, but now you’ve got us as the Boise of the east. I think rhule’s come a long way by infusing the team with some swagger, especially the defense, and winning games against the dreadful teams we should beat (see last years losses to Fordham and Idaho). However, I think he still has a long way to go before we can declare him a great program builder, not that I think you were making that assertion, but you’re giving him high praise and it feels like you owe him at least a conjunction if not an apology to bridge last years comments. The following are my ratings of this weeks performance:

    Defense: A- I’d like to give performance an A but given how dreadful Uconn’s offense performs I busted us half a grade on the curve…that aside I really was impressed with the defenses aggressiveness and their focus even late into the game when it was essentially over. I hope they continue to get the pressure and turnovers we’ve seen thus far the rest of this season. Great work guys.

    Offense: grade C. The offense was completely misfiring the entire first half and failed to establish anything resembling a running game at all. PJW started to get into a passing rythym in the second half and it was nice to see our guys running crisp routes and holding onto the ball. I remain impressed by how this unit takes care of the football and limits turnovers but I would like to see us establish a north/south running game and take advantage of the middle of the field on pass plays.

    Special teams: grade D. Two muffed punts, an Abbott and Costello act on the second half kickoff, a missed field goal and erratic punting punctuated with penalties could have done us in but for a strong defense….and the fact Uconn really sucks.

    Coaching: grade B. The gameplan was effectively devised and executed as measured by the fact we won by a comfortable margin. However, we continue to burn timeouts early in the halves and look disoriented at times. It also seemed our offense couldn’t effectively adjust in the first half to take advantage of Uconn’s defensive scheme (ie route over the middle were there as Uconn shut off the corners). I must however tip my hat to Phil Snow for the complete turnaround from last years disastrous defensive effort.

    • I’m basically saying we’ve reached the level of Boise’s program where Boise is now. Not a 10-year Boise. The Boise team this year that gave up 21 points to Uconn. I don’t think that’s too outrageous or all of Rhule’s doing. Daz’s 2012 class was ranked No. 54 in the country, so that must’ve helped. Still, we’ve got a long way to go before we reached the sustained success. This year, to say we can beat Boise is not too outrageous. I hope we play them in a bowl game, but not on the blue turf (not possible because that’s MAc-affiliated.)

      • remember, pj was a daz recruit, not a rhule one (although he kept him on board)

      • Fair play on the comments about Boise. While PJW was a Daz recruit rhule’s been leading the transition from LY to this year including recruiting the juco players on D. I’m sure not ready to anoint MR the second coming of Knute Rockne but he’s making strides. Keep up
        The great work mike.

      • Boise beat Colorado State, which beat BC, which beat USC. Pasadena, baby! BOTE!

  6. I like the direction of the program and am supportive of the coaches but I want to see how well this team stacks up against Cin, ECU and UCF. We are in the soft part of our schedule.

    • Ohio State ran up 50 on cincy and “only” 34 on Navy (all but 7 late in the fourth quarter). we should be able to hang with cincy. have my doubts about ecu, but I hope the owls prove me wrong. ucf is somewhere between those 2.

      • I have my doubts about ECU as well. The one thing that gives me hope is we are seeing improvement each week. Sure the offense was bad in the first half but good teams make adjustments when they are struggling and turn it around. We did that. Hopefully by the time we get to ECU we will be a better team after playing a bunch of better teams.

  7. Enough cannot be said about that defense of front for the owls. They cause great pressure and they’re getting good penetration. I’m enjoying the blitzing package as well. It’s nice to see us finally start putting some pressure on the quarterback. We beat up UConn’s quarterbacks all day. It was very enjoyable to watch. The one point that troubles me about this team, is the run blocking ability of the offense of line. We just do not seem to have an identity in the running game yet. I will retract the comment that I had before about Gilmore. I do not feel like Gilmore is our solution. But I am starting to believe that Thomas may emerge as the starting running back for this team. I think the former Elizabeth teammates will become a dominant 2-some in our backfield soon.

  8. Given that Penn State’s offensive line can’t pass block, I see our front four harassing Hackenburg all day. The question is whether our linebackers and dbacks can cover PSU’s tight ends. By the way, hate the Inquirer. How can they bury the Owls 10 pages deep in the paper. Wrote John Mitchell yesterday and criticized him for not noting in Saturday’s article that the Owls were on TV. Any wonder why there’s little support in Philly?.

    • John I didn’t even know anyone outside of my 84 year old mom read papers anymore. That’s probably a bigger concern for the inquire than their third rate coverage of the owls

  9. hey, be nice…, I read several hard copy papers every day! our O-line can pass block but seems unable to move anyone off the line of scrimmage.., this team is starting to be fun to watch…, let’s hope we can get more than 25,000 in the seats for homecoming…, PJ is a “player” when healthy, watch out if this offense finds a game breaker…, DBs are playing really well

  10. While there’s still a lot to prove at least the Owls are dominating, not just beating, the not so good teams they should beat, unlike last year when they actually lost! Navy racks up a lot of yards against most teams they play, so more than the defense, the offense sputtered and got going a bit too late. But again, at least they came back and were close to tying the game before time ran out. So, a close loss and 3 blowout wins so far. Now, the Owls need to win 3 more very winnable games and get by 1 or 2 other good teams on the schedule. They’re playing like they could do that, regardless of the competition. The O really needs to start games out better and play better for most of the game to win against the better teams. But its getting exciting isn’t it?

  11. I like Harper’s size and strength at RB, and he can grind out three/four yards behind a young, developing offensive line or catch and run out of the backfield. We should appreciate Kenny now, and dream about a five-star RB for next year.

    • Kenny is one of the greatest blockers I’ve ever seen at TU (behind only Shelley Poole and Wyatt Benson).. If this coaching staff can ever get that simple fact around their incredibly thick heads, Jahad Thomas could be a 1,000-yard runner behind him.Thick heads are hard to reach, though.

  12. Forgot about Mark Bright Mike. He was a great blocker.

  13. makes you really wonder if the offensive has the ability to run block, or if Zaire was really that much better than the others, or is it the scheme we are running? probably a combination of all three.., let’s hope the coaching staff has a plan

    • Like zaire williams very much .. do not think he’s at the level of bp, matty or montel. do think gilmore or thomas have chance to get to bp (with a blocking fullback, no shot without) and herbin has a chance to be mb .. wish the coaching staff would at least try this 2-back set a series or two a game and see what it could do.

  14. looking ahead.., this team MUST continue to get better every game and avoid key injuries.., provided we get past Tulsa at 4-1 it is within the realm of the probable we could end the year at 5-7. Houston and Memphis are MUCH improved and both are playing opportunistic defense as well as, if not better, than Temple. East Carolina is a BCS New Year’s Day Bowl team, UCF and Cincy are at the top tier of the AAC. So it really comes down to Houston and Memphis. Beat them both and we are bowl eligible, lose to both, or split and we are out. don’t see us getting chosen for a bowl at 6-6.., we must be 7-5 or better

    • we will get chosen for a bowl at 6-6. we’re not in the mac anymore. all aac bowl-eligible teams are virtually guaranteed a spot.

    • Need to beat Tulsa and Tulane and then a split between Houston / Memphis gets TU into a bowl. Going on the assumption that ECU is in a BCS New Years Day bowl, the AAC has 5 additional bowl affiliations for 2014. So 6-6 would get us in one of those. Thank goodness Temple is no longer in the Potato Bowl or nothing environment.

  15. I disagree with the comments about Houston being improved. Memphis certainly is and that game is a much bigger question mark than I thought initially, but beating Houston or UCF (or PSU) on the road is not an unrealistic hope at this point. This isn’t the best way to look at things, but if we beat Tulsa-which we should- all we have to do is win one more game before we play Tulane the last game. And at that point, it is highly unlikely the Green Wave will be playing for anything but pride.

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