See that block at the 11-second mark on Gray’s first TD? That was a blocking FULLBACK (No. 32). Until Temple also employs such a player, talk of a revived running game could be just that.
Do not know what Temple football coach Matt Rhule got under that Christmas tree on Thursday morning, but do know what he needs more than anything else.
A running game would have been nice to unwrap. A blocking fullback would have been nicer.
If there has been one constant about all of the bowl-winning teams this year, it’s that every one of them have had a 1,000-yard plus runner this season. I think it’s possible that one of the current players in the program can do that—most notably Jahad Thomas, Zaire Williams, Jabo Lee and Jamie Gilmore—but none of them have a chance to do it under the current offensive philosophy. Lee is coming off two years of inactivity and Williams one and Thomas became a forgotten man after running for 157 yards against Tulsa, so to expect any of them to do it would be too much. Gilmore is a third-down back and his ceiling is Matty Brown, but that’s a pretty good roof.
So that leaves one of the incoming guys. Maybe they can do it under a spread system with a rebuilt offensive line. Bernard Pierce proved that a true freshman can make an immediate impact as a runner, but Pierce had a blocking fullback like Wyatt Benson running interference for him in addition to a good offensive line.
Maybe there is a mystery running back yet to be recruited but, until then, these three guys have the best shot since they are current commits:
Ryquell Armstead _ He certainly has the stats to match Bernard Pierce’s high school numbers from Glen Mills. Playing for Millville (N.J.), Armstead is exactly the same height (6-0) and weight (205) coming out of high school. Armstead ran for 341 yards and four touchdowns in Millville’s 44-40 win on Thanksgiving Day over rival Vineland and fellow Temple recruit Jeremiah Atoki. Like Pierce, Armstead holds a PR of 10.81 in the 100-meter dash. Pierce’s 10.8 won him a Pennsylvania indoor state championship. Interesting that Philly.com lists Armstead’s weight as 185 and his hometown Vineland paper lists him at 205. We’ll go with the hometown weight. Armstead finished with 1,488 yards and scored 18 touchdowns as a senior (Pierce had 2,005 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior).
Chapelle Cook _ He’s probably ticketed for a strong safety or linebacker position on defense, but can help the Owls’ running game if asked. He’s 6-2 and 215 and played a running quarterback on offense at Lakewood (N.J.), home of a Phillies Class A farm team. As a quarterback, he carried the ball 31 times for 197 yards in a loss to Rumson-Fair Haven.
Raekwon Gray _ At 5-8, 170, he’s more of a Matty Brown-type than a BP type but would you have not given a right arm for Matty Brown last season? Still do not know if this coaching staff would have been smart enough to figure out what it had in Matt Brown if he did stick around a few more years . I have my doubts based on what they did with Thomas after his 157-yard day. Gray’s best year came as a junior, when he averaged more than 8 yards per carry over 12 games. He finished with 2,295 yards and 30 touchdowns on 283 carries on his way to being named to the Consensus Maryland All-State team for Urbana High.
The key guy could be someone who is already here, like Rob Dvoracek. With a glutton of good linebackers, the Owls would be wise to move Rob to fullback, where he enjoyed great success at Parkland. As good a runner as he was–he had 347 yards and six touchdowns in a District 11 win over Allentown Central Catholic–he was even a better blocker. Rob is fully recovered from an infection and would be a big key to unlocking the Temple running game from a fullback position. Plus, you think Rob would not at least help solve Temple’s documented problems on 3d and 1, either as a short-yardage runner or blocker?
Hopefully, that’s one gift Matt Rhule decides to unwrap.