Every year something happens at Temple football camp that makes fans take a step back or at least raise an eyebrow or two.
Twelve days and counting to Penn State and these developments fall into that category:
- Frank Nutile has supplanted Logan Marchi as the No. 2 quarterback. This is interesting only in that Marchi’s game has been compared to “Johnny Manziel Lite.” Nutile appears to be the better play-action quarterback and that is why he is moving up. P.J. Walker appears to have his mojo back and is the clear No. 1.
- Play-action will go through the tight ends, not the fullbacks. The Owls probably will not have a fullback, so their additional blocker at the point of attack will be an extra tight end. The plan, a sound one in concept, is to establish the run with that extra blocker on the OL, then fake into the belly of a tailback to bring the LBs and safeties up to the line. Hopefully, that creates separation for big-play receivers like Robby Anderson and Adonis Jennings.
- Averee Robinson is running with the ones. With Matt Ioannidis, Nate D. Smith, Jacob Martin and Michael Dogbe on the line, Robinson has worked his way into the top unit. Wearing No. 43, I look for Robinson—who had five sacks in the 2014 spring game—to have a big season. It’s vitally important that the Owls put Christian Hackenberg on his ass early and often and I expect Robinson to play a big part in that game plan.
- There is one and only one question I’d like to ask Matt Rhule in one of those pressers: What is wrong with putting the very elusive duo of Nate L. Smith and Kareem Ali Jr. back there to handle punts over exposing your No. 1 offensive threat to extra unnecessary hits? Love the toughness and reliable hands John Christopher brings, but his 2.0-yards-per-punt-return was a wasted year on what has been traditionally a very positive play at Temple . Smith averaged 21 yards per return a year ago, but only got one chance. That’s extremely puzzling.
- Matt Rhule does not appear to trust the freshman RBs. The fact that Jahad Thomas is running with the ones as the tailback has to be OK from the standpoint that putting the ball on the ground is going to be unacceptable. Thomas has a lower ceiling than T.J. Simmons or Jager Gardner, but he is more dependable with the football and P.J. Walker trusts him. If the Owls need explosiveness later on, expect Gardner to be the go-to guy.
It’s less than two weeks and the Owls appear to be ready. Hopefully, Penn State will not know what hits them.