Denial: A Broken Water Main at 10th and Diamond

That old saying that “Denial is More than a River in Egypt” apparently extends all the way to 10th and Diamond and that’s at least 10 long blocks from nearly any body of water, unless you are counting broken water mains.

At least that’s my most disappointing takeaway from Matt Rhule’s post-game comments after the Penn State loss above in the latest edition of Matt Rhule Weekly, especially the remarks about P.J. Walker’s play.

Rhule said P.J. is going to have to stop throwing interceptions and that’s reasonable but I really have to ask if Rhule is seeing the same things on the interceptions I am and a lot of Temple fans are—a guy who has to duck out of a rush like Houdini out of a straitjacket just in time see every receiver covered. The poor kid is just trying to make a play on most of those interceptions because he’s getting no separation and plenty of pressure.

Putting this on P.J. is really a heavy dose of denial by Rhule, even though he also adds in the qualifier “it’s on us as coaches, too.”  Yet the coaches have done nothing to make things easier for the most talented quarterback who has come to North Philadelphia since Adam DiMichele.

Harvard checking in, hopefully head coach Tim Murphy who completed an unbeaten season on Saturday.

Harvard checking in, hopefully head coach Tim Murphy who completed an unbeaten season on Saturday.

If he thinks things are going to get better if P.J. “just stops throwing interceptions” then he’s only kidding himself. There is a much larger issue here.

This whole offense is a cluster-bleep disaster delivered to Philadelphia by FedEx direct from Chattanooga, the last stop of his current OC. A trifecta of no running game, no wide receiver separation and no quarterback protection.

These problems are not insurmountable and that’s where Rhule should step in and assert his authority. Establish the run with the left side of the offensive line, behind future NFL tackle Dion Dawkins and future NFL center Kyle Friend. Give P.J. a blocking fullback, both to help in the run and pass protection. (Yes, I know Kenny Harper is on crutches, but if he can’t go, Marc Tyson can do the job.) Make P.J. a little more comfortable by featuring old state championship high school teammate Jahad Thomas—in federal witness protection since 157 rushing yards against Tulsa–as the tailback behind those blocks and someone to dump a screen pass off to in times of trouble.

Stop with the empty backfields and the three wides, four if you split out the tight end like Marcus Satterfield has been doing since ECU. Bring Colin Thompson, who blocks like a really good offensive lineman, in for max protect and to flare out for easy peezy outlet passes. (If you don’t know what those are, see Chester Stewart to Evan Rodriguez, Maryland game, 2011.) Use plenty of play-action, sticking the ball into Jahad’s belly and pulling it out, to bring the linebackers and safeties up in run support and give the receivers a better chance to get open. ROLL P.J. OUT AWAY FROM THE RUSH, where he’s made some of his best throws this season.

Tommy Tuberville is a damn good coach. Here’s an easy prediction to make: Every time Temple goes into an empty backfield, Tuberville will send more rushers than Temple can block and the end result will not be pretty. So maybe the Owls should never show the empty backfield look. Tuberville has Temple film. He’s salivating at the prospect of sending his best linebacker, ironically named Nick Temple, through the A gap, for sacks and tipped balls. Every time Temple goes “dog stare” into an empty backfield, Tuberville knows what defense to call.

Yes, P.J. Walker has to stop throwing interceptions but Rhule—not Satterfield, since he’s the CEO—has to at least give him more help. There’s no Robbie Anderson anymore and Temple cannot be running the same Robbie Anderson offense, especially in these last two most important games of the season.

It hasn’t worked for 10 games and that should be more than enough of a sample to dictate real change.

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48 thoughts on “Denial: A Broken Water Main at 10th and Diamond

  1. How dare you question our lord and saviour, Matt Rhule?!?!?! The audacity!

    • yeah, I forgot all those wins he had before he came to Temple. My bad.

      • Yeah, it was about the same number of wins as Bruce Arians and Al Golden had combined before they arrived at Temple.

      • NEOwl, big difference bringing in golden when our presence was barely audible the college world. The point is Temple leaped into a big conference but hired a MAC (or lesser) coach. That coach is being paid a handsome salary for subpar results. Bigger, better conference should mean we hire a better coach.

        Fact is Golden and even Daz got offers while at Temple. I somehow doubt anyone is begging Rhule to join their program.

  2. What I don’t get is how there seems to be a group of people who for this coach seem to bend over backwards to defend this coach, especially with the way the offense has been regressing for most of the season. I understand a lot of young guys on the offensive line, etc. but this staff clearly hitched the entire offense to PJ with no back up plan. Houston ran into a similar situation with O’Korn but at least had a contingency. I have no idea how much time Riley gets with the first team but it doesn’t appear like much, so you have an offensive scheme that doesn’t seem to have the personnel it needs, makes no changes in the offensive scheme and had no backup plan if Walker regressed. I know Riley isn’t great but he did move the team at times last year and maybe if prepared he could provided an alternative.

  3. A very important part of the coaches job should be to evaluate the skills of his players and come up with schemes to maximize the chance of winning with those skills. It seems that this is where our coaches fail. The mix of our players on offense simply cannot move the ball and score with the players we have and schemes they are running. Mike’s suggestions sound good to me but I don’t know enough to be sure Mike’s alternatives would work. However I don’t understand why they don’t try something else.

  4. Yea, the MRA’s won’t quit despite the vast amount of evidence establishing that he and his staff have been abject failures. The offense is pathetic for the same reasons that have been listed numerous times before. A good coach changes his philosophy to match the players. It cannot work the other way when the players lack the abilities to achieve what the coach wants to do. Bobby Wallace made that mistake with Mike McGann when he tried to run a read option offense with him when it was clear that McCann was incapable of doing it because of a lack of speed. McGann though would have been perfect in a pro type offense because he could throw really well. I’m afraid TU football is again is mired in mediocrity. I hope I’m wrong and they win out but Im not holding my breath.

    • John, hit it right on the head. First the MRAs make the claim that Addazio left the cupboard bare, while I thought the guy was a lot of BS I think that assertion is part of the MRA myth. A large part of this starting defense are Addazio recruits. I think his biggest problem was he was still recruiting like he was at Florida where you could kind of recruit like the NFL draft, take the best athlete available regardless of need. At Temple you have to recruit for need first, build up the starting team and then depth. Now the MRAs like to throw out the it was Rhule who pushed to bring in Matekevich, rather than Addazio. Ok, I’ll give you that but if that is the case then you really have to say that Rhule had a hand in leaving his on cupboard bare. Wasn’t he heavily involved in recruiting under AG, because the 2010 class of AGs is where the cupboard started to go “bare”. Of course the MRAs counter with “well Rhule was only one of many voices in recruiting and it was ultimately AGs decision. Ok, I’ll give you that again but if that is the case what is the “evidence” so to speak that Rhule is such a great recruiter as the MRAs state. I mean one of the key needs aside from d-backs which he did a good job with in Wells and Chandler, was WR with the loss of Andersen. Between Thomas, Eaton and Bryant he couldn’t find one freshman who could contribute, I feel WR is one of those positions a freshman can make an immediate impact. What about Deloatch, he seems to have the skills need yet I see no coaching up.
      So a long winded bottom line, we have at best a staff that is mediocre on game day, don;t seem to be able to coach up talent, for example Buddy Brown and Nate L Smith I know the rating aren’t an exact science but they ranked high across the board and the jury is still out as to haw good they are at recruiting. Looks good but we won;t know until the player are contributing.

      • the urgency to recruit a receiver who could make an immediate impact was there because it was apparent Anderson wasn’t coming back by Dec. and Rhule recruited five of them, none who can even get on the field. How come other programs in the AAC have true freshmen making an impact at that position and we don’t? We needed a Jordan Matthews’-playmaker type and all we got were Jason Avant- fall down after catching the ball types, if not dropping it before falling down.

  5. All i know is that if we don’t score twenty against Cincinnati, something almost every team that’s played them have done, it will confirm what many of us have been saying about the offense. Only three teams haven’t and Memphis scored 41 at Cincinnati.

    • If Temple scores 20 or more points it will mean the defense and/or special teams is having another big game. Don’t see why this offense would get anymore than it’s usual 1 to 2 TDs tops

  6. does anyone remember when Rhule was the OC at Temple? well outside of the heroics by BP and Streater the offense sucked…, and guess what? we don’t have a BP or Streater type on the team today and the offense sucks…, not sure why anyone would expect anything different because Rhule has no history of success on offense…, stupid is as stupid does

    • I agree. I can’t remember who Tu was playing during Golden’s tenure but I recall that the running game was getting 5-10 yards a carry and Ruhle calls a bomb, which broke the team’s rhythm. As I’ve said previously, no one cares that a coach called a brilliant play only that he wins.

  7. Big difference between Temple at the time it hired Golden and the time it hired Rhule. BB told me “you would not believe the winning fbs head coaches who applied” for the Temple job after Daz. When Temple hired Golden, it needed a program-builder. After Daz, it needed a guy who was going to take it to the next level. BB was leaning toward hiring a HC type until he met with the team, parents, Al Shrier and other Temple BOT types who favored Rhule. Now we have Ron Dickerson Redux, a guy who can recruit like crazy but not coach his way out of a paper bag on gameday. Never let the inmates pick the warden.

    • But Mike, Rhule is taking the program to the next level just in the wrong direction

      • 5-5 after 4-1 (and the one probably wouldn’t have happened with a good game plan) is not the direction I wanted to go. This coaching staff has shown no flexibility. Got to show me some flexibility in these offensive game plans. Two weeks to do it. More flexibility, less stubborn reliance on “the process” will get the job done.

  8. Mike. disagree slightly with “Rhule can recruit like crazy”…., last Sunday I watched Tahir Whitehead play his ass off for the Detroit Lions.., not sure any Temple Head coach had more guys go on to play on Sunday than AG…., and IMO don’t think Rhule has recruited one Sunday player during his tenure as HC

    • Yeah, just going by the recruit rankings, not on-the-field results. So far, our best players are daz and golden recruits.

    • Kj, that is the point we don’t know that about Rhule. Who knows he may have been key in recruiting some of the top players under AG but no real evidence of that one way or the other to support his ardent supporters claims how he is such a great recruiter. Looking at the rankings it appears he is doing a decent job but the other half of the equation is getting those same players to perform at a high level on the field. Haven’t really seen any evidence of that yet. Any MRA is free to lay out his past success both recruiting and with his coaching background that warrants this blind “loyalty” by some. This time next year I’d love to be eating crow with guys like Buddy Brown ( who if I remember was a big Rhule fan), Nate L Smith, any of the WRs (Thomas, Eaton or Bryant), Ruff on the o- line, Dogbe, etc making big contributions to at least a 7+ win team

  9. Watching St-Joe-Ben Franklin highschool game and both teams showing more on offense than TU. Ben Franklin QB is really special. Too bad he’s barely 5’9″.

    • Me, too. Amazing the Joe has two effective star-type running backs. Satterfield would probably laugh with how “backward” they are. Wish we were that backward. 5-9 kid getting a lot of balls tipped at the line.

  10. St. Joe Prep is so much better-coached than we are it’s not even funny (and kind of sad, really).

    • St.joes prep and lasalle high school have head coachs who on the high school stage are nationally known. My brother coachs at LaSalle. I know for a fact he was offered the job at southern miss, a few years ago. But if temple did hire coach Gordon you Def wouldn’t like that either. A state title in PIAA wont do itbas far as credentials if being a,position coach for the NY GIANTS and our former O.C werent enough. You have disliked the hire from day one. And as I previously came to mention. I now agree. Only a W TO GET US BOWL ELIGIBLE will have me revert back to a “MRA”. . Im stuck between a mra n a mrh lol

      • in no way advocating we hire a high school head coach, just commenting that their offensive and defensive approaches/schemes/formations/play-calling at their level much better than ours at our level. When Hardin was here, NOBODY … and I mean nobody … outsmarted us and now it’s almost a weekly occurrence.

  11. PSU’s offensive line is again offensive because Illinois is rushing six or seven on every play. It’s so depressing to watch. We just sat back and caught them.

  12. Id love to know what head coachs were lining up to take the temple job!?!?!? A skip holtz type is prob the ceiling for temple. Any head coach on the college level would not be a big name. Temple has had recent success hiring college assistants. Golden and Daz (who I hated) did work out well. And Daz hss done a solid job at BC I thought he was in over his head here as a head coach. Clearly I was wrong, but I felt he didnt get the most out of the team. Esp considering all the nfl players he had….Bp, Streater, jarrett, wilkerson, the TE (Rodriguez??) And I think 2 linemen are currently on NFL teams. Not to mention matt brown who short lived 2 stints in nfl preseason and cfl. This teams best player would be brown. IMO our best player is clearly number 8. But tyler isnt a nfl player hes too slow. Not to mention McManus whos kicking for Peyton manning in denver. Thats what 6 or 7 nfl players on temples team at the same time. How we never won the mac or even beaten a MAC team with a winning record or couldnt compete in that/this shell of a conference formerly known as the Big east. That goes to show we havent had a good game day coach in this era. Golden and Daz both showed alot of holes in game day adjustments. And game planning. Lets not act like they were nick saban or brian kelly game day coaches. Golden rebuilt this house. Hes not lighting the world on fire at MIAMI. I was so excited for this spread attack. But its been a total failure aside from PJS freshman streak.

    • It will be clear next season if the spread can or will ever work here. Year 3 I expect nothing short of 8 wins. If not rhule must go. Maybe were destined to be the ncaa”s version of the Pittsburgh stealers. Winning on great D and a ground and pound attack. This current team is back next season. If Rhule can improve this oline. Maybe things change. I dont see any high lineman freshman coming in??? But with the core of the team and LITERALLY 20 of 22 starters coming back. We should be a top 3 favorite in the American conf. Altho idk how many on this offensive side I want back. Hope some of these redshirts and incoming Freshmen make huge impacts. And with the TE and WR from Hawaii and florida having a off season under their belts things should leap significantly!!!! Beat cincy. Gun down gunner, and shock the temple faithful. Imagine the views by the fans if this team finished 7_5. Id have this season ranked as a huge improvement and great job by Rhule. Were as if they go 6_6 thats just a job saver for him IMO. and a 5_7 finish after thst start and the finish even with the ECU win. He should be fired to me his whole off season and ability to steal a few big program recruits I.e another gilmore on the recruitment trail rest solely on the tulane game. Win were in lose we dont just lose out on a bowl. But we may g

      • Get sent back to the pre golden dark ages. Your thoughts????

      • I don’t think we will get sent back to the pre-golden dark ages. Golden proved you can win here. That means a lot for up-and-coming head coaches. Have not seen a whole lot of great gameday coaching the last 2 seasons and that really has me concerned.

    • Mario Cristobal (who turned down a $1.2 million offer from Rutgers in 2011 and forced them to hire Kyle Flood) applied here and wanted the job (he had his FIU team in 2 bowls in his last 3 seasons). Dave Clawson (now at Wake) applied. Pete Lembo applied. Todd Bowles (3-1 as a head coach in the NFL applied). We went with an assistant who never won a game anywhere before.

  13. It would be a miracle if TU wins both games. The way they finished last year gave us optimism that this season would be better especially since they were so close in so many games last year. So far, this team has clearly regressed. I don’t care that the D seemingly has played better, They were taken apart by Houston and Central Florida and really couldn’t stop a bad Tulsa team. In crunch time against Memphis, Memphis went right down the field and a bad offensive PSU team had its best day this season. Every team I watch that runs TU’s offense runs it with more variety, formations, plays etc. In fact, Ben Franklin High ran it better today. The score was so lopsided because St Joe’s defense was dominating. I do not see this team being much better next year unless they get some big Juco linemen and some receivers especially since they lose Christopher and Fitzpatrick. .

    • the fact that their 2 best receivers are seniors and none of the heralded freshman can even see the field is disconcerting. either their wr talent evaluation is lacking (remember they had Anderson playing d-back in spring ball) or they aren’t playing guys like Young and Nate L. Smith there when they can. Young is our best db and we can’t spare him, but no reason Nate L. Smith can’t help out on offense.

  14. I meant to say St. Joe’s offense.

    • I forgot all about bowels. That should have been the hire. Still cant blame temple admins for bringing in rhule. And agree with you both. The lack of depth now at WR is embarrassing!! And if it weren’t for jalen Fitzpatrick idk if PJ would complete a pass. Cincy will crush us by 21+ all comes down to Tulane. Def think we finish 6_6! But dont see us defeating another winning team in the bowl. Still good for the program to play in one. Heck it would be out what 4th bowl in the last 30 years???

      • @john still cantvsay they regressed from last seasons 2_10 debacle. Unlike most on this site. Im realistic on my expectations of temple. 6_6 and a Bowl WIN. would be as expected this season to continue an upward trajectory. The reason I have changed my tune some on rhule and the staff is how embarrassing our offensive play calling and overall offense has looked since houston. I give snow all the credit in the world. Everyone else has disappointed. Esp. Imo the use or lack thereof the personal. Why jamie gilmore a recruit stolen from wvu and other power schools cant get 10 touches a game is a mystery. How no freshman at wr seen any time also is mind boggling. Its not like the upper classmen at wide out have done much of/ anything aside from drops and a failure to get open. I pray pj returns to some form of last season next year. Bc he has been the single greatest disappointment on the season. Weither thats on the staff. The line or wrs or the fact as sone say him bulking up too much. Anyway you slice it hes failed. We need a QB if this playbook is to ever work. Bc clearly under rhule the spread is here to stay. And this staff shows no sign of changing up or adjusting aside from the small sample against ECU.

      • Or, if you want to take the optimistic view, third bowl in the last six years.

  15. What would be typical is a win over Cincy and then blow a win over Tulane instead of beating the worse team. But really, if Temple loses both games and goes 5-7, major changes SHOULD happen. If they go 6-6, Rhule gets more time but the OC situation changes. If they upset Cincy and beat Tulane for 7-5, well we all need to keep our mouths shut and see what happens next year. Seems like any of these senarios could happen. Bottom line though, is that the Owls SHOULD be 6-6 already, maybe 7-5 with a chance at 8 or 9 wins. But before we replace Rhule we still have 2 more games to see what transpires.

    • I don’t favor firing Rhule. I never have. My stance has always been they never should have HIRED him with so many head coaches available with more solid winning resumes. Temple being Temple never fires anyone so it’s just a waste of bandwidth to call for his firing. They’ll wait until his contract is up and not renew if he’s not successful . He’s a reasonable person. I would assume he knows by now this offense needs to be tweaked so P.J. at least gets max protect for Cincy. Anything else (fullback, running game, play-action) would be a bonus. Cincy beat Uconn 41-0. This could get ugly if Temple sticks with 3-4 wides.

  16. Yea, you know, 3rd bowl in the last 6 years IS big improvement for Temple considering they were in only 2 bowls previous to that in their history! Conversely, getting into a bowl today is infinitely easier than years ago and it’s rather embarrassing that Temple isn’t in one every year. Being in the bottom third or quarter of all Div. 1-A schools is pathetic, even for Temple. Which is partly why we all want to see some smart coaching on game day, because last year could have been, this year definitely should be. Period.

    • by the convoluted logic of the MRAs, having 16 starters returning from a 4-7 team should not necessarily mean improving to 6-6 the next season, even though the two worst teams on Temple schedules between 2005-2013 were on the 2013 schedule. 6-6 should have been the 2013 record, not the 2014 record. this year we should have taken another step forward to 7-8. No way Clawson, Lembo, Bowles or Cristobal would have gone 2-10 last year with 16 starters back from 4-7 and we would be talking further improvement this year. Heck, Cristobal beat Louisville in 2011 and lost 28-21 to Louisville in 2012 and beat Central Florida in 2011. The guy can flat-out coach on gameday and the only reason anybody hasn’t hired him is because he has not applied for a head coaching job since Temple. Temple, he thought, was a recruiting gem because it was flat in the middle of the most populated area in the country.

  17. I agree that if the Owls go 7-5 we have to bite our tongues, but that’s a BIG if.

    • John, fair enough and I agree. On the other hand if this team goes 5-7 can we please ignore all of the nonsensical MRA excuses, “so young”, “cupboard left bare”, “have to have patience”, “just need to give Rhule 4 or 5 recruiting classes”…..

  18. Haha, the Harvard IP is mine, don’t think that their head coach is worried about Temple football. I sure am though, and I don’t think there’s a chance we beat Cincy. Tulane is 50-50. The offense needs more inspired WR play along with others to win another game this season . We’ll see I guess but I wish we had a coach that would make the fans feel like the win was a lock.

    • you are what your record says you are…., our record says we are in the bottom half of a second tier conference…, many reasons for our predicament …, first step to recovery is admission….,

    • no wonder you are at Harvard. You hit the numbers right on the head. Tulane is no more than 50-50 (the guy calling it a lock in the above video is insane) and the coaching is a total mismatch vs. cincy. no shot.

  19. My over-riding assessment on the overall situation is that, for whatever reasons, the higher ups (higher than the coaching staff) just don’t make very good decisions on how to improve the program. Let’s not forget why Temple got kicked out of the Big East Conference or letting the Bobby Wallace debacle linger on and on, way past when any other school would have let him go or not stepping in to push for some changes instead of accepting unnecessary losing games and seasons. No urgency, no improvement. Its just plain annoying to see other schools improve their programs or even start new ones and have success in just 2-3 seasons. And Temple lumbers along losing and losing, at best tantalizing us with success but usually falling short. As a commentor and Bruce Arians said, the facilities are far better than in the past but the results haven’t improved much. Again, why does the school, the higher ups, accept this – it’s been going on far too long. They can drop 5 other sports and at the same time consider spending multi-millions on a new stadium. It’s good to give people a chance and let some failure be a learning tool toward success, but there also has to be some strict expectations. And if those expectations fall short, take action sooner than later. Enough is enough.

    • The explanation is apathy from the administration, most students, media, and alumni. They either don’t care or don’t think that enough people care to make the changes necessary to improve. Why there isn’t a wave of criticism of the coaching decisions made this season and last in the press and general public is amazing to me especially given the multi-million dollar improvement in facilities. If I were in charge I’d tell Ruhle he had to hire an experienced offensive coordinator at a minimum and an older former successful D-1 head coach or coordinator as a mentor. Go to a Penn State board and there are plenty of people calling for Franklin’s head for good reason. He, like Ruhle, has made a ton of boneheaded mistakes this season. Did anyone notice that the worst defense in the Big Ten made PSU’s offensive line look like crap again simply by rushing five and six? TU failed to do that and the papers are heralding the improving PSU line following the TU game. It’s just all so depressing.
      Like I said in a previous post, Cincinnati’s defense stinks. Nevertheless, we won’t score as many as we did last year against them. And please, don’t tell me they shut out UCONN this past week. St. Joe’s Prep could shut out UCONN. LOL.

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