Another great job by OwlsTV.
You have to take it with a large grain, maybe a boulder, of salt but this is the best quote we’ve heard in three years from Temple head coach Matt Rhule:
“How do we differentiate ourselves? How do we make ourselves hard to prepare for? Put two backs on the field. Put two tight ends on the field.
“This is what your roots are. These kids have made themselves really tough. And that’s the only way we’ll ever win–by being a really, really tough football team.”
It was great to hear because two backs, not necessarily two tight ends, has been the essence of the “Temple Tuff” philosophy Al Golden took five years installing at Temple. By doing so, Golden paid tribute to the great Temple teams of the past under both coach Wayne Hardin and Bruce Arians in particular. Those were the Temple teams Golden remembered playing at Penn State, teams that would come at the Nittany Lions with a smash mouth approach and, though it took five years, Golden got it done at Temple.
When the Owls played UCLA in the Eagle Bank Bowl, Golden went with two backs and tried to ram it down the more talented Bruins’ throats. It would have been a successful approach had Bernard Pierce not pulled a hamstring at halftime. He beat Fiesta Bowl-bound UConn the next season with Pierce running behind a great blocker in fullback Wyatt Benson. The Owls did not have a quarterback people feared for either game.
In recent years, we have not yet seen what kind of offensive numbers this approach could lead to with a talented quarterback at the helm, but we might this season. Except for Adam DiMichele, who except for Joe Paterno’s pettiness would have been eligible for the Eagle Bank Bowl, the Owls have not had a quarterback perfect for this kind of offense. P.J. Walker is.
What we’ve seen offensively the past two seasons certainly has not been Temple Tuff. Too many empty backfields and single back approaches have not worked. Now the Owls have seemed to figure out that if you can attack a defense with more blockers than the defense has tacklers, you are giving your featured back a bigger hole to run through.
Whether that back is Jahad Thomas, Zaire Williams, T.J. Simmons or Jager Gardner, that extra lead blocker is going to make a difference. When the Owls show opponents they can run, everything else opens up. Watch P.J. fake it into the tailgate’s belly, pull it out and find Temple receivers open all day. That only works when the run is established first. I wonder what Wyatt Benson, who still has a year of eligibility, is doing these days?
If Matt Rhule is sincere about this approach, get your popcorn ready. It’s gonna be a show.