Watching Dunmore of the Scranton area play in the state championship game today was a reminder of how Temple could have schemed its way into the wins it needed to assure itself of a bowl bid.
Dunmore ran the kind of offense that perfectly suited Temple personnel all season: Two backs, tailback running behind the fullback and play-action off a max protect scheme for the quarterback. It doesn’t matter that Dunmore lost, because Dunmore got the most of its personnel using that system.
Temple did not.
It’s a simple principle: Coach to the players you have, not the ones you want to get. It seemed like all year the Owls were running formations for the kind of guys they want to recruit, not the guys they had in the building.
The Owls had a potentially great tailback in Jahad Thomas, but he disappeared after gaining 157 yards from scrimmage in the Tulsa game. He also appeared sparingly after that, partly because the coaching staff did not have a whole lot of confidence in the offensive line, but mostly because the coaching staff refused to use two of the best blockers they had —Marc Tyson and Kenny Harper—who could have helped open some holes for Thomas with lead blocks.
Ask Paul Palmer what Shelley Poole meant for him as a lead blocker. Ask Montel Harris what Kenny Harper did for him as a lead blocker. Ask Bernard Pierce what Wyatt Benson did for him as a lead blocker. Ask Tanardo Sharps what Harold Jackson did for him as a lead blocker. Ask Kevin Duckett what Mark Bright did for him as a lead blocker.
All of them will say that one lead block was just as responsible for any big gain as was the entire offensive line.
Thomas never had a chance to answer that question because the coaches never tried the concept.
A lead block opens up the running game and a good running game opens up a play-action passing game. This season was 12 games of Temple running three and four receiver sets, even splitting the tight end when he could be better used to jump-start the running game. Twelve games of trying to force square pegs into round holes.
As a result, this ass-backwards’ approach to offense killed Temple’s chances of winning a couple more games (Navy, Memphis and Cincinnati come to mind) that would have given Temple fans a nice trip to the Bahamas.
If the coaching staff learns something from this experience, it might be worth it. If not, they will be banging their heads against the wall for another 12 games next season.