Dvoracek Would Help Unwrap Owls’ Running Game

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.

When you dead last, running the same kind of offense over and over again is the very definition of insanity.

When you dead last, running the same kind of offense over and over again is the very definition of insanity.

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:

Rob Dvoracek could be the key to unlocking the Owls' running game in 2015.

Rob Dvoracek could be the key to unlocking the Owls’ running game in 2015.

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.




21 thoughts on “Dvoracek Would Help Unwrap Owls’ Running Game

  1. Matt Brown wouldn’t have thrived in the AAC. These defenses all have plenty of kids who could shut him down.
    Remember when we played UCLA and the same linebacker tackled Brown on 3 consecutive downs? Picture that all game long for 6-8 games.

  2. Mike, don’t think a full back was on Rhule’s Christmas list, which is sad because one would help the offense immensely. I do hope he received a couple of stud offensive linemen for Christmas.

  3. Mike, do you really think this coaching staff has what it takes to make any moves like you lay out. Dvoracek, will stay a backup LB, the offense will still be Spread Lite and I really doubt any back next season will have many more yards rushing than this year.
    Joshua, actually Matt Brown’s 37 yards per game as the number 2 back in 2012 would have topped any of the back’s on this year’s team and that was against an equivalent level of opposition as the current AAC lineup. I agree he wouldn’t have been a feature back.

    • Apples and oranges. We all know the run game was practically ignored this season, and Matt Brown was part of the ill-advised run-happy philosophy that led to the current ill-advised pass-happy philosophy. I’d lay odds that almost any of the backs we have now could eclipse those numbers even as the backup given the same number of snaps.
      Also, you’re kidding yourself if you think the MAC was the same level of competition. Unless we’re talking NIU and Toledo, of which we only ever had to play one per year. There is no Akron in this conference. There’s no Miami (OH), there’s no BGSU. Could one of those teams beat USF or Tulsa? Maybe. But they wouldn’t get the better of the series in that hypothetical, mark my words.
      A 5’5″ frame is a two-edged sword. A lot of those big plays he made with his feet (damn impressive, don’t get me wrong) were a direct result of being a small target (and admittedly a blur). At the same time, if an opposing team got a defender in front of him that was it.
      Whenever we play superior competition they break our tackles like nothing and our guys are put down by the first contact they take. Can’t go to the next level with Matt Brown-type players.

      • Actually, since I said those were his numbers during the 2012 season Temple wasn’t playing MAC teams, so level of competition was no different than this season. 2012 team played UCONN, USF, Rutgers (19), Louisville (12), Cincinnati, Syracuse, etc so I do think it’s a fair comparison. As I said someone like Brown is not your primary back, also this seasons leading rusher outside of Walker, Thomas had 20 more carries than Brown in 2012 and only gained 13 more yards than Brown in 2012. So I disagree, you can move to the next level if a Matt Brown type player is just one of several weapons you have in the arsenal and more importantly you have a coaching staff that knows how to use them,
        I do agree with your point about the current offense using an ill-advised pass happy offense. I don’t know Addazio’s run happy offense looks pretty effective against Penn State so far.

    • no, and that is probably why we are headed to a mass firing in 2017. by then, it will way too late.

  4. temple was playing essentially the cusa this season which is basically the top half of the mac. the fact the owls could break even against that was not a ringing endorsement of this coaching staff. remember, another coaching staff representing temple beat a fiesta bowl-bound team. that one did not have an eastern mich. or tenn-chatt. coordinator,,though.

    • it is a ringing endorsement if u remember we were playing in the MAC a few seasons ago.

    • Have to agree with your assessment of playing CUSA this season, and a version of the CUSA that really isn’t all that much stronger than the MAC, just look at the AAC’s bowl performance so far. People keep mentioning the bad MAC teams, well for what they are worth the AAC had the same number of teams in the various bottom 25 and bottom 10 lists all season as the MAC. The one difference I see is that the MAC has more middle of the road 5 and 6 win teams then the AAC. So more accurately the AAC is the top and bottom of the MAC without the middle. Yes there is no Akron or Miami(OH) in the conference, we have UCONN and Tulsa and SMU.

    • I just think this whole “Temple is playing so much better competition than the MAC” is just another in the line of excuses for the blind faith people have for some unknown reason in this coaching staff. One which has shown itself to be medicre at best in 2 seasons. From the stand point of money received, TV contract and having all sports in one conference, especially basketball the AAC is a no brainer compared to the MAC/A-10 combo. From a football competitiveness standpoint this conference is behind the MWC in the G5. How the other 4 conferences stack up, I would rank the AAC ahead of the current incarnation of CUSA and the Sun Belt and at best marginally better than the MAC. First looking at the I know debatable rankings like Sagarin (MAC-West 14th, AAC – 16th, MAC – East 19th). He actually has CUSA ranked ahead of the AAC. If you look at competition versus P5 conference teams, the AAC had 3 wins in 24 games in 2014 while the lowly MAC had 4 wins in 24 games. So I think you are spot on Mike when you say that going .500 against conference opponents is no ringing endorsement of the staff.

      • marshall could win this conference. so could niu. by now, temple should be up to marshall//niu level in talent …difference is coaching on gameday and, heck, during the week.

  5. Sticking with my prediction that football is done by 2018. There simply is not enough support from the students fans for it or for sports in general. There are only 1200 members of the Owl Club and that is a travesty for a school with 40,000 students and many more alumni. BB attendance, but for the “big” games, is atrocious for the 6th “winningest” program in NCAA history. As far as football goes, the Conference is second rate this year both in FB and BB. The additions especially weaken BB. FB has to win at least 8 next year to be relevant. That means winning six conference games because we are not going to beat PSU or ND with this coaching staff.

    • Right now I think that will be tough, looking at conference games Temple HAS to beat UCONN, Tulane, USF and SMU. After that do you really see this team picking up 2 wins out of Memphis, USF, ECU or Cincinnati. They regressed against Memphis and USF this year, haven’t beaten Cincinnati since the 80’s and I doubt ECU will lose to Temple at home. I agree no way PSU and ND aren’t anything but bad home losses with this staff so with that I think the 2015 team is looking at another 6-6 season.

      • a simple change of offensive philosophy would get them to 6 conference wins and that would be the same offensive philosophy golden had for an OC named rhule. wonder if rhule is trying to prove he re-invented the wheel with this offense or, worse yet, he’s afraid of offending his tenn.-chatt. buddy by dictating a change? either way, it dooms temple football to a dead end after 3 more years … and I do mean dead.

  6. Well maybe the BOT has set things up for failure so they can drop football. But then, why would they spend (waste) millions on facility upgrades, hefty coaches salaries, stadium rental fees, drop 5 sports, etc. if they plan to consider dropping football? It’s this kind of waffling, contradictory decision making that has become the Temple habit for mediocrity (or less). This goes higher than the coaches or even the AD. It’s time for the president and BOT to step in and make some decisive decisions that will truly improve the football program for a sustainably successful future. Older fans like me have had it. Other schools know how to get it done. C’mon Temple, if you really think football is the key to bringing in money (even in the face of almost all schools losing money on football) and giving the school a face of success, not abject failure, then start by looking at your coaches and demanding better results. You always taste a bit of success and then let it slide away, down the drain. Enough!

  7. It’s amazing. The people making the decisions do not have the benefit of the same hindsight the long-suffering fans have. This is Ron Dickerson all over again. Nice guy, great recruiter, hires his friends instead of the best available candidates for coaches, not short in the wanting to win department but plenty short in the how-to win department and totally (and i mean TOTALLY) lost on game day. The only thing that will save Matt Rhule now is to hire top professional lieutenants like Tom Bradley for the defense and Ralph Freidgen for the offense but that rather large Fridge boat has left for the Big 10 and is not coming back. Bradley could be talked into running the defense (one year doesn’t sell me on Snow) and helping Adam DiMichele with the Western Pennsylvania recruiting. Surely, there is a young hot great offensive mind who believes in a balanced running/passing game out there who will come to Temple.

    • The thing to watch with Snow next year is if he follows his EMU pattern where from his first to second year the defense improved then slid back in the third. Unlike at UCLA and Washington where his defenses just started getting worse after year one. If this team has any chance for 6 or more wins next season this defense can’t take a single step back. I kind of wonder if jonohio isn’t onto something about for whatever strange reason the BOT doesn’t care if the FB program succeeds.

      • I think joninohio is probably coming to a logical conclusion based on the activity/inactivity and silence of the athletic director and BOT on these matters. Don’t think like a lot of the pro-stadium people that the silence is because they are getting their ducks in a row. There are no ducks. There might have been ducks with a winning season and a bowl win but even that wasn’t a certainty.

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