Running The Football Was a Forgotten Promise

Amnesia is a terrible thing to have once, let alone twice in the same week.

Evidently, though, that is just what happened to Temple head football coach Matt Rhule after the glorious 20-10 win over East Carolina, fueled by this promise:

“Last week, we were a little bit shell-shocked on the plane coming home from the loss to Central Florida. As a staff, we made a decision … so, this week we wanted to get back to who and what Temple is: play good defense and special teams and run the football.”

Rhule remembered the good defense part. He forgot the run-the-football part and the special teams part.

Since Matt cannot control what a punter does or does not do, let’s just concentrate on what he can control—the run-the-football part.

Just to be sure I wasn’t seeing things, I got up early this morning to chart all of the Temple offensive plays. Temple ran 71 offensive plays and lined up in three wide receivers on 68 of those. Temple ran the ball 32 times and passed it 39 times. By any definition, that doesn’t jive with “play good defense and special teams and run the football.”

Kenny Harper scores

Kenny Harper scores

Against East Carolina, Temple ran 56 offensive plays, lined up in three wides 22 times and ran the ball on 37 of those offensive plays. Of the 37 running plays, Temple lined up with a fullback, Marc Tyson, 20 times. Both Temple offensive touchdowns were a result of a Marc Tyson block off a two-back formation. Tyson, like so many uniquely talented Temple players the last two seasons, joined federal witness protection last night.

You can blame the loss on the drops all you want, but that’s something the coaching staff cannot control. The coaching staff CAN control the commitment to the running game. Not only did the Owls coaching staff forget about it in game-planning this week, it forgot to stick to the running game after Kenny Harper ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run.

Amnesia twice in one week.

Before the game, we wrote this:

“If you decide to pray for anything, please pray that the Owls don’t fall back into their three-wides, no-blocking-back for P.J. Walker approach they had against Houston and UCF. In that scheme, Walker had no time–none–to throw and receivers could get zero separation. So happy to see the Owls get away from that last Saturday.”

Well, with the help of some selective amnesia, they got back to it Friday night and, not surprisingly, they lost. Hopefully, on the bus ride home from LFF, Matt Rhule remembers what he said on the plane ride home from UCF–and, this time, never forgets.


34 thoughts on “Running The Football Was a Forgotten Promise

  1. I’ve been a pretty harsh critic of Rhule and Snow in the past but I dont feel you can hang this loss on them. They avoided the letdown after a big win and had this team in a position to win if the players on offense had executed (ie caught the ball).

    The owls defense was excellent but the special teams were a disaster as were the receiving corps. I think PJW has been serviceable the last few games but haven’t seen him progress the way I would have expected. Also, while he’s an athletic QB he doesn’t have that level of athleticism that puts fear into opposing defenses which also limits the owls scheming. You also have to be realistic about the quality of the owls young O-line and realize their ability to play woody Hayes football just isn’t there.

    If the owls play this way against PSU and make a few catches my long suffering could end.

    • the drops and bad punts are something Rhule could not control. don’t understand why he lets Satterfield talk him back into going three wides when he finally put his foot down and order mostly runs against ecu. if we had fallen behind 10-0, not been ahead 10-0, different story. the line blocked well enough for harper to go to the house. still think the running game could have sprung Jahad or Jamie behind similar blocks if they committed to it.

  2. Kids gotta catch the ball. nuf said.

  3. John I completely agree with you. The only thing I will say differently is that these are not kids. These are men on scholarship to play football at the Division I level. If you can’t catch the ball, you can’t play at this level or any other for that matter. PJ has certainly not looked great this season but when he needs his receivers to make a play, they have proven time and time again that they don’t step up to the challenge.

  4. Has Rhule giving up on Khalif Herbin as the returner or is he hurt? If there is no one who can catch the punt then just get away from the ball and let it roll. Id rather lose field position then the ball.

    • concussion for poor khalif, who I hope gets another chance. Khalif is not a wr. he’s a change-of-pace rb, just like matty brown was. Nate L. Smith, one of the greatest punt returners in the history of Pennsylvania high school football for archbishop wood, should now inherit the punt return job after a great play on a punt return in the fourth quarter.

  5. Went to the game last night with a non-owl pal. We both couldn’t believe how well the run was set up, followed by a complete abandonment of the run after the first half.

    With our D1 scholarship athlete WRs not catching the ball when thrown to them (what are they there for?), PJ’s inaccuracy for whatever reason, and the lack of protection for PJ in the game, we thought you should run it for at least 2-3 yards a play instead of forcing bombs on 3rd down every drive due to the aforementioned problems. I suppose the coaches thought otherwise since running the ball only got them 10 points in the first half.

    D played great and those black unis looked great under the lights though!

  6. run was terrific. abandoning it was not. this coaching staff causes me to scratch my head so much in 2 years I’ve have a ][-shaped scar on my scalp.

  7. just once i’d like to see us commit to a series with jahad running behind kenny or marc and then just pound the crap out of penn state.

  8. Mike, I laid off the coaches because they did enough to put the team in position to win. Nevertheless, a team has to change the look on offense every now and then to keep the defense honest. How the coaches could abandon the 2-back set and play action is inexplicable. Also, the coaching on Memphis’s last drive was ridiculous, especially since all they needed to win was a field goal. All prevent does is prevent you from winning.

    • snow’s play-calling came up small that last drive. got to get in the qb’s face. even if you don’t get to him, a tipped ball could result in an int that wins the game. that last drive wasn’t coached temple tuff, even though the kids played hard. if you don’t get to him with 4, you send 5. we were way too passive.

    • John the coaching on the last drive by Memphis is pretty much the “bad” of a Phil Snow defense, seems to go into soft prevent defenses with the game on the line. Only have to look at the ’97 Rose Bowl to see the same thing which probably cost ASU the National Championship. On the flip side there has been a lot more of the good points of Snow’s defense philosophy this year, better pass rush, a lot more gang tackling, a lot more turnovers caused by the defense and defensive scoring. Bottom line a couple of those passes that were in receivers hands get caught and a last minute drive by Memphis may not have been the deciding factor.

  9. It’d be easy to react very negatively to last night’s game- never beating them to the edge, passes bouncing of receivers’ hands, terrible play-calling, but we played a very close game with a very similar team. It’s possible that Memphis is just good, and that we just played well to beat them last year. We’ll be seeing Memphis for a while and I don’t doubt that we’ll win our share of meetings. Harper went over 100 yards and success running the ball is what led to PJ at least putting the ball in receivers’ hands. All three of our remaining games are winnable, and a good showing by the whole conference in bowl season would serve us well.
    We’ve got another game coming against a team with an identical record, and we have a long week rather than a short week to prepare. We’ll be right in this one and it’s an opportunity for a key win.

  10. Hey folks, for those saying Tulane is our sixth win, not so fast. They are handling Houston at Houston by 11 midway in the 4th quarter.

    • Penn State better be the sixth. I like the matchup against PSU. A slow, err, uber-unathletic qb with five walk-on starting OL-men in front of him against an extremely quick and physical TU DL. We must put this kid on his ass early and often, just like we knocked out three vandy qbs. If that’s done, we can even mess around with satterfield’s 3 wides and win. If we don’t put this guy down, we lose. Simple as that. And … for the banned person … you are not banned for complaining, you are banned for not staying on football topic. Stay on football topic and you will be allowed back.

  11. Thinking the same thing. The defense has to keep the edge though because Hackenburg has good feet That’s how they beat Rutgers.

    • plus, nova put up 5 ints. I don’t think p.j. will put up 5 ints. he was throwing the ball away like crazy against Memphis (because our receivers get no or very little separation, except for the 5 drops). I’d rather have p.j. do that than put the ball up for grabs. psu will have its hands full if rhule and sat roll out p.j. on pass/run options. why am I even writing this? I fully expect the crap I saw last night–three wides, no commitment to the run (even if we to rip off a 75-yard td run) no wr separation, no blocking back for the tailback and/or p.j. and, as a result, p.j. running for his life. defense is going to have to win this game, just like ecu.

  12. Mike, I only comment every so often so bc prior to this season. Ive agreed with much of what you post and say. I LOVE THIS WEBSITE much like our fans errr lack there off, at least judging by their attendance @ home games. This is the only website with any coverage on the entire internet. On top of that the local papers and news do a terrible job, well if you could even call it a job (an article a week and zero to none in the off season). And I feel that is the main reason the stands are empty. Al golden started this program IMO it wasnt even a program before that. (Rhule was a BIG Part of that) bobby wallace era was when I started to watch and attend home games (about 2 a year on average). I grew up in a die hard philly house hold. But since were irish Catholics NOTRE DAME is the team I was raised with. Lou holtz (the most entertaining coach I can ever remember) vs bobby wallace #nocomment. Its a miracle I even discovered TEMPLE FOOTBALL!!! Long story short I did so bc of my father handing me 5 free tickets to temple football game at Franklin field vs uconn. A blow out victory ive converted ever since. I mean were from philly THIS IS OUR CITYS TEAM. Im rambling here I just want to make to points. One is that if the school would do a better job advertising. And getting the word out that in the last few years this team has transformed into a respectable DIV.1 program. People will love temple football if it was on there minds. The games werent televised nearly as much 6 or 7 years ago as they are now. Its easy to follow the squad now. Were as before if you didnt fo to the actual game you had onky Harry Donahue or Espn game cast to get live updates from.. Matt Rhule is the right man for the program IMO. Its clear you dont think so. I know you tend to say in the comments you dont dislike him but you clearly think he cant coach and has cost us every lose. LAST nights game was on the punter and the players. They ran 50_50 almost I think a 5 or so more passes. He didnt call a bad game. I will say the houston game that lose was on him. Temples roster is talented. But not nearly as talented as you like to see it. Matt Rhule gets alot of credit for al goldens recruitment. And Matt has done an AMAZING job at recruiting last year and his incoming class may be the best class in temple HISTORY. What hes landed so far and what he still will put together. He is trying, well has implemented the spread offense. Thats also the type of players hes recruiting for. You know you have to recruit players that fit the system. And its well known that spread offenses are all the rave right now in college n pro ball. Kids want to play in these high powered offenses. Clearly we dont have the personal and talent (ready to play at least) to effectively run the spread and 5wr sets. And as you and coach have mentioned. Your job as a coach is to use your personal and maximise talent, put players in position to win. Yada yada ya…But at the same time if your trying to recruit kids for the spread, like 6″4 wrs, slot guys, barn burners, and your playbook that is taught and all your team knows you cant just switch mid season or even a game in to a pro set, or wishbone offensive playbook etc etc…On top of that your in the midst of trying to develop a young sophomore QB who was the highest rated Qb in my life as a temple fan. Who also showed alot of talent and progress last year. Im highly disappointed in PJ but think/hope its just the dreaded sophomore slump. To me on the season coach has done a GREAT job solid B+ grade. Last year was atrocious. 2_10 was acceptable for a new coach 5_6 years ago on n.broad but not after what Al Golden followed by Steve addizo did here. Honesty I feel addazio (really need a spell check lol) approach to football and the game was so unfan friendly and dreasful to watch to non die hard fans like us. 3 yds and a cloud of dust, more like 2 ,3 _1 and punt. And I feel S.A. cost us a few games with his scared of to pass approach. The program is in trouble of being dropped. WE need butts in the seats. Our attendance is a joke. Esp. For the 4th largest city and the most passionate fan bases in the world. How a team that is winning in this city doesnt have hardly any fans is a mystery to me. If Coach Rhule can ger this offensive system up and running putting up 40 pts a game with an exciting offense and fan friendly style maybe that can change things. Yes I mnow winning is whats most important. But all these other things are factors. This team must learn His system, keep recruiting well, f ::) nd these diamonds in the rough like B.P and tyler great 8 macavitch. AND were finally starting to get 3 and even 4 star recruits. The facilities have dramatically improved in recent years. I and (recruits) love the multiple new school uniforms. Coupled with the offense scheme and winning games and hopefully (I personally guarantee it) getting to a bowl game. Our stock is rising and kids are noticing. Look at were our recruits are coming from. I see a lot of Florida kids, states all up n down the coast. Dam before we were lucky to get a few high 2 stars from out of state. And psu n pitts left overs, now rhules getting top state talent, guys who are top 30 position players in the nation per/ espn recruiting. (Buddy brown, jamie Gilmore, P.J walker etc etc) I know I rambled on here and wrote a darn novel. But after his dismal first season. Hes PROVEN progress. Beaten a sec team, beat a TOP 25 team for the what 3rd time in the modern era. TO me this season has been much better then the vibe on TFF. and better then id imagined. 6_6 or possibly 7_5 are a solid foundation to leap into nect season with most of the roster coming back. We’re one of the youngest teams in the nation. And you will see that next season and the years to come temple may very well become the boise of the EAST!!!! Give credit were its due. Todays article was the line for me. Please mike get back to Non biased COVERAGE of our TEMPLE team. To just basiclly blast matt rhule after every lose is not doing justice. I mean after the ecu game your article was basiclly rhule got lucky the team won bc of the D and bc he finnally used a fullback. He coached that game with a solid plan to WIn the players performed and game up big in key moments. Thats football!! I mean no disrespect at all im personally a big fan of the site and your writing!!!! I know on the thread im now labeled in this civil war of MRH”s and MRA”s. I think its kinda childish personally. Were all TEMPLE FANS lets agree to disagree as a whole on the opinions of the staff. Altho its safe to say we all like Snow now after last year. Were I myself though he was the worst D coordinator in college football lol. Now hes statistically one of the best. Funny what 1 season can do. But im finnally going to end this way to long post.
    But one last thing…..BEAT PSU end the streak of embarrassment!!! A win at happy valley against the team I despise most will make me the happiest Fan in the world and will make this the most enjoyable season ive ever witnessed. Top 25 and a psu Win is heaven to me!!! #TEMPLETUFF

    • Fantastic, passionate, balanced post. Kept wanting to stop, but couldn’t. Come back again.

    • It’s an old debate in football whether (as a coach) you fit your scheme to the players or have your players fit your scheme. I’ve seen both done well. We need to either commit to the run (my preference) or bring up our OL and focus on the spread. Completely agree the best way to guarantee our success in the future is filling seats. 20k is 20k regardless is there are 50k empty at the link or 10k at the owls stadium. Best way to fill seats is by winning and creating a culture students appreciate and care about. Culture and tradition will keep them coming back.

  13. Dan,
    I respect your opinion. the thing that frustrates the hell out of me about Matt (and I do like him personally) is that he goes on this big “we’re getting back to Temple football” rant and says it’s all about special teams and running the football and the thing he can control–running the football–he doesn’t. It’s obvious to me with the current personnel grouping where you have a great fullback type (Kenny Harper) and a great tight end (Colin Thompson) and a POTENTIALLY great tailback in Jahad Thomas, the ONLY way to win is to ditch the three wides for what we did with BP–run the tailback behind the fullback and a good blocking TE, THEN throw off play-action fakes to the tailback. Do that and you’ll find Temple receivers running free all over the place, especially in the open middle of the field 15-30 yards downfield (because you’ll force the lbs and safeties to honor the fake). He doesn’t even try it. Try it, Matt. You’ll like it.

    • Would like to add that the two back set also allows our TE to get more receiving plays. One up the middle yesterday was nice. Would like to see more of that too.

      • … and gives P.J. a second or two more to look down the field. I had my eye on Kenny Harper last night on passing plays and he was knocking his man back every time. one time, he got a blitzing lb, knocked him off his feet, then went after the DE trying to loop around P.J. from behind (and got him). As tough a runner as he is, he’s a heat-seeking missile as a blocker. Love to see Jahad run behind him. (I think Jahad joined Tyson in witness protection last night.)

  14. What is our record in the all black uniforms? 0-always…., is it me or does this program have a habit of reinforcing failure.., I’ve said before and I’ll say it again.., four keys for this type of team:

    1. offense musts score 21 points
    2. make all FGSs
    3. less than 45 yards in penalties
    4. no more than two turnovers

    how hard is that recipe for success? I guess beyond their ability to comprehend

  15. The game was not lost by Matt Rhule but by receivers who had too many drops and a terrible performance by the punt team ( both ways ). Too bad because this was a VERY winnable game.

    • Not lost by Matt, but sticking with the run after Kenny’s 75-yard jaunt would have helped Temple’s chances a whole lot. we’ll never know, though. we’re throwing the ball to guys who don’t have a long history of being sure-handed. when i looked at jamie’s recruiting film, i did not come away that night thinking, “wow, look at all of those great catches he made” … I came away thinking, “My God, look at this kid on running the ball in space!” we rarely give him that chance.

  16. Karma says don’t wear the uniforms again. Don’t mess with Karma. Those other things? A lot of them are outside the coaching staff’s control, except No. 3, which Mike Pettine Sr. at CB West proved can be done by stopping practice when it’s done in practice and making the kids repeat the same play 15 straight times right before they move on … made for some long practices, but cb west never got more than 45 yards in penalties on any game on the way to winning 3 straight large school titles (and often went 2-3 games without a single penalty). Kids hated Pettine for doing it then; they love him now.

  17. These coaches can’t spell karma. Despite having success the week before with a two-back set and a blitzing defense when it mattered, no two back set and no pressure on MU’s last drive. It’s already wait til next year time. I’m tired of the insane mistakes made by the coaches. As everyone knows the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result and these coaches keep repeating the same errors. Yes, mra’s I know this week a good amount of the blame rested on the kids but the coaches don’t help.

    • I turned around to my friend Tom (a Rhule supporter) when they came out in the first three-wide sets (sometimes four when they split Colin Thompson out) and said, “I hate this crap. I know they are going to lose now because they forgot all the lessons they learned in the ECU game.” Tom said, “That’s one thing I agree with you on …” Here’s my theory: Rhule put his foot down and ordered primarily running plays against ECU and somehow during the week Satterfield slowly talked MR into going back with the three wides. Colin Thompson should be in tight leading the toss sweep with Kenny Harper right behind him and Jahad Thomas with the ball right behind Kenny. You can blow up a lot of defenders at the point of attack with those two and THEN and only then, you throw off play action. I have hopes of beating Penn State, but I would not be surprised if they lose out if they keep being this stubborn.

  18. One more thing; yes, the defense played well. However Snow did not protect the the sidelines on Memphis”s last drive and they went right down the field throwing sideline passes. Snow did nothing to stop it even though common coaching sense says that’s where they’re going to throw to conserve time. Drop an end or have a corner back jump a rout. Nothing from him but plain vanilla defense.

  19. Tulane beat Houston…,

  20. That was a tough loss, but I would gladly trade that loss for a win next week. How sweet would the 6th win at Penn State be?

    • football is a game of matchups and I think we match up well with PSU … especially our athletic defensive line vs.their (mostly) walk-on OL. gotta disrupt Hackenberg like we disrupted the three Vandy qbs. Put him down and then get plenty of hurries, tipped balls and ints. Derek Mason kept thinking it was the vandy qbs and, by the time he got to his third qb, he finally figured out it was the Temple DL.

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