Room for Improvement

When Temple head coach Matt Rhule talks about “room for improvement” and includes the coaching aspect of it, that has got to be a heartening sign.

In the 2-10 first season, there was not a whole lot of coaching responsibility being taken other than, after the loss to Fordham, Rhule saying that the loss was embarrassing and “it will get fixed.” Two weeks to get ready for a worse foe, Idaho, and it did not get fixed.

The lack of experience of the Temple coaching staff, especially offensively, reared its ugly head that first year and the numbers after halftime were so stark they could not have been ignored.

Halftime Adjustments?

Game First Half Points Second Half Points
Notre Dame 6 0
Houston 13 0
Cincinnati 20 0
UConn 21 0

All we can say is wow.

Things got only a little better last year, but not much in losses to teams the Owls should have been more competitive with, like Houston and UCF.

Those things have got to improve.

We’ll find out against Penn State. I have the feeling that the Owls match up physically well, but a 6-3 game got out of control a year ago after halftime and you have to wonder what went on in both locker rooms during the intermission. Penn State made the adjustments and Temple did not.

Another thing that cannot be denied is the Owls’ lack of previous winning experience among the current  Owls’ staff.

Coach Team Before TU Last Record

Before TU

Position

With

Team

Matt

Rhule, HC

NY Giants 9-7 Asst. OL
Phil

Snow, DC

Eastern Mich. 2-10 DC
Marcus

Satterfield, OC

Tenn.-Chatt. 6-5 OC
Glenn

Thomas

QBs

Atlanta

Falcons

6-10 QBs
Ed

Foley, STs

Fordham 7-15

(2 yrs.)

HC

Penn State has a head coach, James Franklin, who won nine games against a largely SEC schedule before he came to State College. He’s not getting paid $5 million a year because he’s a chump.

So far, Rhule has said all the right things about establishing a running game behind a two-back, two tight end system but, in recent days, he backed off the two backs and said the Owls might not use a fullback. Hopefully, that’s a ruse because we’d like to see, say, Jager Gardner following a lead block by, say, Nick Sharga behind Kyle Friend or Dion Dawkins.

Just once.

On the first play of the modern series with Penn State, coach Wayne Hardin tried a similar off-tackle play with world class sprinter Bob Harris following a crushing lead block by fullback Tom Duff through the hole. Seventy-six yards and 3.2 seconds later, Temple led, 7-0. That’s Temple TUFF. That’s Temple football right there. Harris behind Duff; Paul Palmer behind Shelley Poole; Kevin Duckett behind Mark Bright; Bernard Pierce behind Wyatt Benson and Montel Harris behind Kenny Harper.

Trivia question: Who led Temple in average punt return last year (21.0) but only got one chance?

Trivia question: Who averaged 21 yards per punt return but only got one chance?

Rhule also said he was at a loss to find out why the team had such a poor return game post-Delaware State but it was his  decision to use a slow possession receiver as the principle punt returner all season after Delaware State.

Duh?

Nate L. Smith, who is not a slow possession receiver, got one chance for a punt return last year and he returned it for 21 yards against Memphis. Smith is only the leading punt returner in Pennsylvania schoolboy history.

The leading punt returner in Pa. schoolboy history.

The leading punt returner in Pa. schoolboy history.

Sometimes, you wonder if these guys are looking at the same things we are but, again, there is room for improvement and personnel awareness is apparently one of those areas.

The running game to set up the play-action passing game and the punt return game are the two primary areas where the Owls have a lot of room for improvement.

The Penn State game will tell a lot about both. The Owls are physically there with Penn State. Mentally, it was another story a year ago. Losing a close game to Penn State will not cut it anymore. Establish the run with a tailback behind a lead fullback block, bring the safeties and the linebackers up to the line of scrimmage to respect the run game, then fake the ball into the belly of the tailback and go play-action. Under that scenario, P.J. Walker will have so many Temple receivers running free through the secondary he will not know which one to pick out. If he doesn’t get hurt taking back a punt first, Robby Anderson will be one of them.

Get ‘er done. It’s not rocket science.

One week and one day.

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16 thoughts on “Room for Improvement

  1. Satterfield has got to figure out a way to make this offense more productive in the 2nd half, the goal should be to score more in the second half than the first. this team has playmakers.., get the football to them in space and let them make plays.., Temple can’t afford to start the season 0-2…, the coaching staff must start out-coaching the opposing sideline.., and figure out a way to beat PSU or Cincy.., Franklin could beat PSU with the Temple players

  2. Well after reading the PS boards they r not all that happy with Franklin. they call him a great recruiter but not a good game day coach. Sounds kinda familiar right? they say that Hackenberg regressed under him. i guess we will find out Sept 5th.

  3. So Rhule is already getting wishy-washy about the backfield situation? Geeze, what’s the matter with these guys – they either can’t see what’s needed or they don’t have the tuffness to do it? Well, as you said we’ll see in a week what’s going to happen. All we can do is hope for the needed changes.

    • All summer long we’ve heard two backs, establish the run. Now we hear Rhule say “I don’t know if we’ll have a fullback.” Are they going to throw two tailbacks out there? One? Then I hear Nick Sharga is working out at LB, DE and fullback. We’re deep at DE and LB. We need him at FB. If we come out with 5 wides and no blocking back protection for P.J. again, I’ll scream. Not jumping to conclusions until I see the first few formations 9/5.

    • We’ll get an indication in a week. A win and the sky’s the limit. A loss and it’s the same old Temple. Even a close loss will say that because these two teams were 6-6 a year ago. This is not the Penn State we knew when Hardin and Arians went toe-to-toe with them. We have to be able to get the job done. Trust but verify.

      • Found this on Pravda, err, I mean Owlscoop, today:

        actsci617

        Well-Known Member
        Gold Member
        Joined:Dec 14, 2012
        Messages:238
        Likes Received:2
        New
        Rico_g said: ↑
        Of course, at the end of the article the author says’ this could be the kind of year that lands Rhule in a bigger job’…prick.
        actsci617 responds:
        Rhule is not as attractive a candidate as Golden or even Daz to a lot of programs, I don’t understand why.

        Hmm. Let’s see. Golden had TU in its first bowl game in 30 years. Daz won TU’s first bowl game in 32 years. Rhule is 8-16.
        Not hard to understand.
        Let’s pump the brakes a little bit until the post-game celebration 9//5. Then we can all get in our cars, put a heavy foot on the gas pedal, and drive around Lot K like Mario Andretti.
        Not before.

    • I saw TU on the lsit of top defenses on grantland a few weeks ago. I noticed this

      If that happens, the difference between a repeat of last year’s 6-6 slog and the kind of nine- or 10-win miracle that might put Rhule in a bigger job could be as little as a few more productive possessions per game.

      Why cant TU keep their coaches? They cant have a top notch program if the coaches only stay for a year or 2

  4. PJ will not throw 4 interceptions, and should get the team in the end zone at least two times.., all depends on how Satterfield attacks PSU..,

    two .500 teams last year with three major differences:
    1. PSU went to a bowl game last year and won, much more practice time to develop their young talent.
    2. Both teams appear to be much improved this year, but PSU is improving on back-to-back 4 star recruiting classes. The overall talent level is much higher, and they are just bigger, stronger, and faster
    3. Impact of coaching. Franklin is 31-21 coming off a bowl win season. He won 9 games in the SEC. PSU doesn’t pay him $4.4M per year for nothing in return. Rhule is 8-16, and has losses to Idaho and Fordham on his resume. He is a nice guy whose dedication is without question. But there is not even one cell of football genius in his brain.

    With this much talent Temple should win 7 games this year and go to a bowl based on the schedule. However, this game will highlight not how far the program has come, but instead will provide insight into the harsh reality of how far Temple must travel to successfully compete at the highest levels of big time college football.

    PSU 31 – Temple 17

    I stand by my comments regarding Ruff and TJ Simmons.

    • Extremely worried about No. 3. Our second-half performance has been documented to be extremely poor not just over the first season, but the second. Maybe second-half adjustments are overrated but why have we done so poorly in the second half? Plenty of evidence it is more cerebral than physical. I hope I’m proven wrong in one week and one day but hope didn’t get me to a bowl game the last 3 years.

      • Let’s hope there’s improvement in the second half. Perfect example is the Navy game last year. After scoring a touchdown with no time remaining in the second quarter the Owls came out and gave up a long drive that essentially sealed the game for Navy. Maybe it’s the Linc. Andy Reid was criticized for the same thing.

  5. I don’t think Andy in his 13 years had as many scoreless second halves as we did in our last two.

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