Plenty of lesser talented Temple teams have walked into Beaver Stadium against infinitely more talented Penn State teams and walked away with better results than this once-winning Owl team did on Saturday.
What happened was a complete and utter disgrace. Quite frankly, with Penn State at an ebb in its program and Temple coming in with more scholarship depth due to sanctions, this was Temple’s only chance to beat Penn State, maybe for the next 73 years as well.
Nate should go down to City Hall
tomorrow and legally change his name
to Anyone L. Else. That way, the next
time Rhule says, “I don’t have anyone else”
the Stepfords can ask him if Else was injured
Temple simply doesn’t recruit on that level and, at least with this staff, certainly are not going to out-coach James Franklin. We can only hope he moves onto the Potato Skins, or whatever the Washington NFL team is called in a few seasons.
With talent removed from the equation, there can only be one logical conclusion to make: those other Temple teams were simply better-coached than this one is, for just a few reasons we’ll list here:
The Mr. Haney Offense
When you go on the cheap to hire a hick offensive coordinator from Hooterville, like this one is, you get what you pay for. Temple rolls out the 3- and 4- wide receiver formations Marcus Satterfield won all those national championships at Tennessee-Chattanooga with (oh wait, he didn’t win any; never mind) every week and wonders why it struggles to move the ball every week. On offense, what the Owls have are a lot of really good players with unique skills who are not being put in the best position to win. Temple should not be struggling to score points in the AAC. The Owls have two potentially great blocking fullbacks in Kenny Harper and Marc Tyson, but they rarely use them that way. Temple has a potentially great tailback in Jahad Thomas, but they rarely use a fullback block at the point of attack to spring him for big gains. Temple has a potentially great tight end in Colin Thompson (a five-star transfer from Florida) and rarely throws him the ball. Temple has at least two offensive linemen who will be playing in the NFL on Sundays — tackle Dion Dawkins and center Kyle Friend — and rarely use those two with Thompson and Tyson running interference on toss sweeps to Thomas that could open up that entire offensive arsenal.
Speaking of that arsenal, Temple has a change-of-pace tailback who runs the ball well in space in Jamie Gilmore, but — you guessed it — they rarely use him that way. Hawaii transfer Keith Kirkwood (his OC called him Kirkland on a radio interview), John Christopher and Romond Deloatch — guys with magnets for hands — are rarely thrown to but instead target too many guys who do drop balls. The Owls have an extremely talented rollout quarterback, P.J. Walker, who they try to make a dropback passer far too much.
This offense is a cluster-bleep of trying to fit perfectly good square pegs into imperfect round holes.
With this talent and more traditional two-back and I-formations with plenty of play-action, Temple is as formidable on offense as it has been on defense this year.
What Have You Done With All That Practice Money?
Last year, Temple built a $10 million addition to Edberg-Olson Hall, which cost $7 million to build in the first place. Yet the team jumps so much on offense (and three offsides on defense) that you’ve got to assume that happens in practice, too. If so, should not practice be stopped and have the team do the play right 15 straight times before they move on, like Mike Pettine Sr. used to do with CB West? You’d be amazed how much peer pressure causes mistakes like that cease and it does carry over into games. Do we practice the throat slash? If so, why don’t we practice doing it behind our own bench instead of in front of the officials?
The Passive Aggressive Defense
If Temple should have learned anything from Northwestern’s 29-6 win over Penn State, it was that head coach Pat Fitzgerald made Christian Hackenberg very uncomfortable by going out of his base 4-3 defense into a 5-2 for that game. Fitzgerald had the Wildcats hit Hackenberg so much, that he would throw the ball up just by hearing footsteps. Temple outsmarted itself by “mixing it up” and that only mixed up its own defense. The Owls often rushed only three and made Hackenberg way more comfortable than he should have been. Put three-time Pennsylvania large school state wrestling champion Averee Robinson over the center as a 5-2 nose guard and make Matt Iaonnidis and Hershey Walton the right- and left tackles with Sharif Finch and Praise Martin-Oguike at the ends (on running downs sub in Brandon Chudoff). Watch Robinson blow up the center and free those other guys to get in Hackenberg’s face. When you have two LBs like Nate D. Smith and Tyler Matakevich, you can play the 5-2. Temple’s strength on defense is its deep, physical and athletic defensive line. By rushing three, Temple was doing Penn State a favor and not playing to Temple’s own strength. It should not be surprising for someone who allowed 44 points a game and 38 points a game in two of his last three seasons before being hired at Temple. If you are going to be flexible on defense, be flexible to be aggressive, not flexible to be passive. That’s Temple weak, not Temple TUFF.
When asked if John Christopher was returning punts against PSU in the pre-game presser, Rhule said: “I don’t have anyone else, to be quite honest with you.” Of course, the group of reporters who meet the coach every Tuesday–Matt Rhule Pravda, I’ll call them–never thought to follow up on the question. Hmm. Nate L. Smith, who led the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in punt return yardage and touchdowns via punt return in 2011, returned Temple’s last punt against Memphis for 30 yards. Since Nate L. Smith played against PSU, we can assume he wasn’t injured. Nate should go down to City Hall tomorrow and legally change his name to Anyone L. Else. That way, the next time Rhule says, “I don’t have anyone else” the Stepfords can ask him if Else was injured. Putting Smith back there gives Temple a chance to score or at least significantly change field position on every punt. When you are struggling on offense, you need to maximize opportunities to move the ball any way you can. Matt Rhule does have someone else, to be quite honest with you. Temple has given up on the punt return as an offensive weapon. That’s Temple weak, not Temple TUFF.
Par for the course and a just a few reasons why a season that started so promising is now headed for what could be a Hindenburg-like crash and burn.
Hell, Might as Well Use Him at WR, Too: