Not P.J.’s Fault

All you have to do to determine the problem with the Temple offense is look at the last 43 incompletions P.J. Walker has thrown.

I have just finished watching them and there has been exactly one (1) Temple receiver open in the last 43 pass attempts that P.J. has missed. Granted, that was a bad overthrow but all of the other throws were tightly-contested ones with Temple’s receivers getting no separation. There is nobody open an alarming number of times in this ill-conceived offense. Nobody.

Would I pull a talented young quarterback for missing one pass?

No. This monstrosity is definitely not his fault.

Would I pull the scheme that created this mess?


“We have to go back and look at
everything we’re doing ….”
_ Matt Rhule, Inquirer, Oct. 26, 2014

Really, you could see this train wreck coming three weeks ago in the Tulsa game. Tulsa is a terrible team and Temple’s receivers could get very little separation on even that porous defensive backfield. Walker had to thread the needle before getting pounded on a blitz to Jalen Fitzpatrick for a big touchdown in that one.

The problem is a solvable one and it’s a formula that has been outlined here before. Two backs, with Kenny Harper as a fullback leading the way for Jahad Thomas. The offensive line has not been blocking well but both tight end Colin Thompson and Harper are accomplished and effective blockers—even Rhule has said that—so sweeps to that side of the field probably would work a whole lot better than the head-scratching plays Temple is calling now.

Running Thomas behind Harper is like giving Thomas an extra pulling guard and, Lord knows, this offensive line could use that. Create shorter down-and-distance situations for Walker and have him throw when there is a tangible threat of a run. That way, Walker fakes to Thomas, freezes the linebackers and safeties, and opens those closed passing windows for guys like Fitzpatrick, John Christopher, Romond Deloatch, Keith Kirkwood and Thompson. More play-action and rolling the pocket could not hurt.

That’s the only way this Temple offense would ever work and it would be nice to see it at least tried before this season, like last one, goes right down the tubes.


35 thoughts on “Not P.J.’s Fault

  1. A team can overcome bad blocking by employing your suggestions and by using slants and quick passes to the tight end. . I have yet to see a slant since Vandy. Ruhle may love his system bu this is no time to take a stance or be pigheaded about it. Too much is at stake and unless he wants to be known as the last coach of the Owls he better become more flexible and fast especially since he has the players to implement a change.

  2. Good analysis. The running game is going nowhere, which makes it easy for the opposing defense. Is Temple still running the hurry-up offense? Is that helpful?

  3. Good analysis Mike, I don’t know if I would absolve PJ from as much blame as you, he hasn’t been playing well but this scheme is not helping. What is the risk trying some of what you laid out, the offense won’t do much, it’s not now. Time to try something different and see what can happen. Especially to help out that offensive line, what good are 4 receivers in a pattern with PJ running for his life? I don;t care how much this offense passes it’s as predictable, rigid and ineffective as Daz’s was his second year.

    Thank goodness the Cult of Rhule is mia from this blog, they are getting unbearable on owlscoop. People saying that win and losses are irrelevant and a moronic way of judging if a team is progressing or not but in the next breath saying this team is much better than last year. There just seems to be a group who rather than rooting for Rhule to succeed, which I know you, John, myself and most other rational people who post here want, seem to have this religious commitment to the guy and never give you any measurable, quantifiable criteria to judge this teams progress.

    • this year is gone to the land of 4-8. Our program sucks and it is time for drastic changes.

      First let’s look at programs that have started in far worse shape and are enjoying success in less than five seasons since they made a commitment. look no further than Colorado St. First they made a commitment and built a new stadium in the face of criticism. second, they hired a great coach from the best program in college football. third, they never made excuses along the way such as “we don’t have the talent”, or, “it’s a process that is going to take five years”, etc, etc.

      hire they best coach you can afford, build a new stadium, and don’t make excuses or blame they players. how simple is that?

      did anyone look his the Arizona defense took care of the Eagles today? their DC could have been our coach but we got Rhule instead…, I’m so frustrated!!!

    • Pretty sure Todd told the athletics committee he would have hired Todd McNair (a national championship OC) as his OC and Nick Rapone (the 2010 fcs defensive coordinator of the year) as his DC. already light years ahead of satterfield and snow. light years. something tells me those guys would have turned a team with 16 returning starters and 4 wins into a 6-win team last year and created the launching pad to eight wins this year. Instead, the S and S boys waved their magic wand and turned a 6-win team into a 2-win team.

      • i reallydon’t understand why so many people suddently got so high on Snow. Yes his defense was effective against some very bad teams, but even in those games, there were instances where the poor tackling stood out. Good tackling is something the coaches should teach. His defensive schemes against the pass still make mediocre quarterbacks look great.

        I am a little surprised how poor the team is playing. I thought the coaching got better as the year went on last year. There is no sign of that this year.

      • Todd McNair was the running backs coach at USC, not OC. And his lawsuit against the NCAA would have probably prevented him from being hired.

  4. Sorry for the delay. I didn’t have my acronyms straight and was waiting for you to confirm whether the proper term is MRA or COR. I’ll get on your thesis request immediately and can only hope that is acceptable.

  5. We’ve heard everything you said already and can’t disagree with any of it until Rhule tries it and it doesn’t work. Ha, ha. Except for one little thing – sitting PJ was not a bad thing to do. The kid needs a rest, physically and to get his head together. PJ has been making mistakes but how much is attributed to getting pounded and chased around all the time? He must be fighting depression at this point. The blocking schemes really do need to change.
    This season compared to last. Well, things are looking worse about now. 2, 3-touchdown losses in a row and another blowout coming up in East Carolina. Temples O simply put, just sucks right now. And you’re right, it’s not all PJs fault at all. I do think the D is playing pretty darn well considering they’re out on the field so much. And they (and special teams) got back into the turnover game against a solid team. That was good to see. Tune up the O and Temple would be winning some games. Not getting that touchdown at the goal line with multiple downs and not getting it was all about blocking. More typical Temple frustration. As I’ve said before, results are what evaluations are based on and Temples higher ups, if they really want to win, need to make some moves. Otherwise this will go on and on and on. We’ve seen it before. If Rhule pulls out 2 more wins, he deserves more time. If Temple goes 4-8 I’m not at all sure he deserves even one more season to show something – but no more than one. If Temple really wants to succeed, they need to make changes sooner than later – PLEASE, no more Bobby Wallace, on and on stuff.

    • Jon, agree with you on sitting down PJ for several series, think he was just getting to the point where he had to be off the field awhile. Aside from that, something does need to change. My question, if PJ is having a sophomore slump, bad mechanics or whatever you want to call what the heck is the coaching staff doing. Hey, i’m not at practice, in meetings, etc. but he seems to be making the same mistakes. Isn’t player development/coaching one of the most important aspects of a good program. I’m sure the MRAs will have some smart ass comeback but this staff has to do more than recruit good players.

      For Fast Phil, I was as vocal as anyone last year regarding Snow and the poor defense and your points especially about tackling are valid but overall this defense is better than last year. I think of there issues are the result of too many 3 and out offense possessions. Compared to last year this defense has improved substantially in all major defensive categories and I really think for the most part is playing well enough to win.

  6. 4-8 after 4-1 would be a complete and utter disaster, yet the mras will say it shows progress. last year’s team should have gone from 4 wins (with 16 starters back) to 6, so he should get no pass for going from 2 to 4.

  7. Mike, first and foremost long time reader and enjoy your column (first time posting). Let me begin by saying – I am a Philadelphia transplant was transferred here 6 years ago and it has become my families home. Two daughters graduated from Temple and have adopted the University sort of speak. I have season tickets to football and basketball. Went to and graduated from an SEC school…having said all that my point/question is; where is all the alumni support in all this? What I mean is attendance to football and basketball games, there are supposed to be 200K plus Temple alums in close proximity and yet nothing. I can remember in the leaner years when I went (80’s) to school and we would get beat 40 – 0 and won a handful of games but I can remember reading/listening to the alumni talking about change and loosing is unacceptable etc..(just like right now) but while all this was going on there would still be 60K people in the stands. No I have not experienced the long term like you all have but still a bit puzzled. I think these kids realize how important winning is for them and the university I just think that it starts with alumni support. Thoughts?

    • actually, with few exceptions, any enthusiasm of this fan base has been beaten to a pulp in the last 30 years. I respectfully disagree. I think it starts with winning (not 9-4 followed by 4-7 and 2-10) but something like what Golden did (three years in a row). We’re running out of time. Got to win now. that’s a big part of the reason why I’m so frustrated by this staff not tailoring the system to the players, but trying to impose their system on the players. too much forcing of square pegs into round holes the last 2 years. got to determine what your kids do well. harper is a fullback, not a tailback but they don’t believe in the fullback so he’s MIA. they have a 5-star tight end as a weapon. they don’t use him … and on and on and on. this would NEVER happen under arians or hardin.

  8. Hey mike, of those 43 throws how many were deep slants or throws towards the middle of the field? I feel as though Shat-erfield erased those passes from the playbook (the plays robby anderson capitalized on). Also I haven’t seen one inside bubble screen, they have all be towards the sidelines. Satterfield is ruining PJs development!

    • This offense seems to consist of what looks like 70% quick screens to the sidelines to the WRs, very few slip screens and to your point can’t remember many middle screens at all. The rest of the passing game seems a half back vertical game. What is a slant?? The running game shows similar predictability, does this offense run traps, direct snaps to the H-back or quick tosses??

  9. Even Daz ran a tight-end screen. Maryland is still reeling from it. And again the quick screen must be thrown to someone who can make a defender miss. Christopher is not that player and to keep using him in that role is ludicrous.

  10. I wonder if Temple booster’s will pay off Matt Rhules home.

  11. Some might remember me as an occasional contributor. Had season tickets for three years, desperately wanted D1 football in Philadelphia. Been buying individual tickets.

    Love the dialogue here, but won’t invest anymore. Will keep reading, but headed to Rutgers-Wisconsin on Saturday. So sad, really.

  12. i can hear it now, can’t you?

    Temple finishes at 4-8 after starting the season at 4-1. Coach Snow, “it’s a ‘process’ that takes time, players can’t be expected to learn my system in just two years”.

    Matt Rhule, “Our kids just aren’t big or strong enough to compete. We just have to stick to our ‘process’ and give our kids time to develop”.


    • kj, can’t wait to hear what they say in 2016 after 7 of the current defensive starters have graduated. I know we keep hearing about the “youngest” team but there are 7 juniors on the starting defense, 5 who have either been starters or substantial playing time in the past 2 years. Then it will be “it takes the process time to rebound from that kind of turnover”

  13. Well, now we’re all disgusted, frustrated and panicked. If we lose 7 straight after 4-1 with some winnable games in there, that will be ridiculous. At the very most, Rhule gets one more year. If no bowl next year he should be ushered out the door. But if the AD, BOT buys his “it takes 5 years to develop” bs, the program will be down the drain AGAIN! Totally agree, Temple’s higher ups not only need to act but be smart doing it. If they can drop 5 sports to dump into football, then spend more on a really proven coach next time. And Owl2, I don’t ever remember 60K on a regular basis back in the 80s? Is that true and where did they play then? Fan/alumni support has always been meager at Temple. And anyway you have to have some success to draw fans and what’s happening now ain’t no way to do that.

    • Jon, excellent post and yes if this team manages to lose 7 straight, I still don;t think they will, then Rhule has to be one and done for 2015 if not in a bowl game. Then you’ll have a team with 7 returning senior starters on defense, an offensive line with a starting 5 consisting of 3 senior, 2 juniors and top recruit Ruff in the wings who should push for starting time. Mix in a couple of the red shirts this year and some of the fr. and so. players getting experience this year and there can be no excuses for not fielding a competitive team in the AAC. As for crowds in the 60K range, I can’t remember that and I’ve been following the team since the 70’s. The Garden State Bowl had a good crowd but I don’t think that was more than 50K and maybe a Penn State game at Franklin Field and when we played BYU here the crowd was maybe in the 35 – 45K range.

    • Owl2 was referring to the SEC school he graduated from when he said 60K in the 1980’s

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