Game Week Could Be Jager Gardner Week



“I’m sitting there
watching the cut-ups
in the offseason.
We have the ball on the
1-yard line and we’re
in five-wides running
quarterback draw.
My heart hurt.
That’s just
not what I am
and what I believe.
We’re going
to run the football.”
_ Matt Rhule,
April 28, 2015
 

While we have all been impressed by the greatness of Jahad Thomas, just about everyone knows it’s a long season in college football and the backups better be ready as well.

That’s one of the reasons why Charlotte, N.C., would be the perfect place for Jager Gardner to have his breakout game for the Temple Owls (7 p.m., Friday, CBS Sports Network). The other is that Gardner is from there, as his Owen High is only 116 miles West on Interstate 40 after a left turn from State Route 16.

Jager Gardner had a 70-yard touchdown run against the nation's No. 4 scoring defense in Temple's first scrimmage this summer.

Jager Gardner had a 70-yard touchdown run against the nation’s No. 4 scoring defense in Temple’s first scrimmage this summer.

As North Carolina goes, that’s a stone’s throw.

Another reason is that Temple head coach Matt Rhule has said repeatedly that, while Thomas had won the job fairly and squarely, there are a number of running backs right below him who “just as are capable of making explosive plays for us” and mentioned both Gardner and the pride of South Jersey, Ryquell Armstead. Watching Temple last week was like scratching your head and watching the Temple of yesteryear–literally, last year–and the number of times the Owls rolled out the three and four wides against a run defense that allowed 390 against Colorado was perplexing. You had to wonder if Matt Rhule forgot this quote: “I’m sitting there watching the cut-ups in the offseason. We have the ball on the 1-yard line and we’re in five-wides running quarterback draw. My heart hurt. That’s just not what I am and what I believe. We’re going to run the football.”

Oh yeah. Notre Dame torched that vaunted run defense for an additional 457 yards yesterday. For this Temple team to win, it must get back to establishing the run and passing off play-action. Period, end of story. It must get back to fulfilling the promise Rhule made on 4/28/15. Maybe getting more backs involved will help. After 67 yards, it could not hurt.

The last truly great back at Temple, Bernard Pierce, got only six carries and 44 yards in his first game as a true freshman against Villanova, but once he got into a game three weeks later at Eastern Michigan, he never gave up his spot. The same could happen for a guy like Gardner, whose high school stats were even more impressive than Pierce’s.

No one really knows if South Jersey or Pennsylvania football is better than North Carolina football or even North Jersey football, but the stats are stark.

rushing

As a senior playing for Elizabeth High, Thomas scored 15 touchdowns and had 889 rushing yards from scrimmage. As a senior playing for Owen (N.C.) High a year ago, Gardner had 2,776 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns from the line of scrimmage. North Jersey football might be real good, but it would be a stretch to say that it’s more than twice as good as North Carolina football. Armstead’s stats against similar competition were also good, scoring 18 touchdowns with 1,488 yards from scrimmage as a senior. He might be the Owls’ fastest back since Bernard Pierce, as both had the same exact time (10.8) in the 100-meter dash as seniors.

Either way, all three backs should be able to get extensive time for the Owls at Charlotte and, to quote a favorite saying from one of my fellow Owl writers, we’ll have to see how it plays out.

Tomorrow: (Mostly) Unseen Temple Photos

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16 thoughts on “Game Week Could Be Jager Gardner Week

  1. I’d like to see gardner play. Do you think gardner and Simmons might actually be redshirted? Last I checked, TU has one or even 3 RBs behind Thomas and Armstead (Gilmore, Hood,Z Wiliams?)

    I see asimilar situation at RB that caused K Ali to be redshirted. When you have a ton of existing options, why not let the new guys prepare and let the existing guys battle it out.

    I’m actually wondering why TU has so many RBS. Maybe recruits saw that TU had no feature back and were drawn to the idea of being the lead back in year 1 or 2?

    • Simmons played against Cincy. Gardner against PSU. Looks like they can get Simmons a medical redshirt (knee). Ali, according to the participation charts, has not played. He’s a DB. If someone gets injured, they will probably burn his redshirt.

      • I didnt notice Simmons or Gardner playing. Do you have access to these participation charts?

      • don’t need no participation charts. simmons wears no. 30 … he was in on the onsides’ kick mayes recovered; gardner was the up back when thomas got the quick toss for 6 against psu on 3d down and goal. their redshirts were effectively burned on those two plays. No. 12 (ali) has not played according to the particpation chart on owlsports.com. you can find it by going there and following 3-4 links.

  2. Silly detail, but 900 yards (Thomas, NJ) is 1/3 Jager-Gardners 2,700 yards (NC), not twice as good – 3 times as good! Anyway, seems like 1 or 2 of these young guys should be red shirted, looking into the future. Well, UMass looked pretty good for a while yesterday but then ND just took over. But it was good to see PSU do well – 3-1 makes Temple’s win over them look pretty good so far.

    • good point. it’s hard for me to believe that, had gardner transferred to elizabeth, he would have gone from a 2,700, 36-td guy to a 889, 15-td guy. factoring into the level of football, i see no worse 20-some tds and close to if not above 2,000 yards. it would be interesting to see how Jager does behind Temple’s offensive line with, say, 20 carries. Charlotte should be the game for that.

  3. BTW, Temple really does need to win BIG next game. No more get a couple TDs and then start sputtering. At the very least they need a 2 TD margin, more really. The rankings for the “other” five conferences has Temple #3 and there are 3 AAC teams in the top 5. A big win should have them kissing the top 25. Go Owls.

  4. Thomas, Hood, Armstead, Gardner, and Simmons.., smart thing to do would be to redshirt one of the three freshmen.. you don’t need five RBs in a one back set offense

  5. MIke, I posted your rushing numbers on the Owlscoop board. At least some of the people over there are thinking about the issue.

    • thanks, phil. don’t know what they are saying over there, but it’s pretty clear-cut to me. Umass can’t stop the run even against a mediocre team like Colorado (which lost to Hawaii). They put 8 in the box against us and our Tenn-Chat OC says, “Geez, no running today; goodie I can go back to the 4 wides I used at TC” and gives up on the run after JT gashes UM for a TD. To me, if Temple TUFF is going to mean anything, we match them helmet for helmet and just knock them off the ball. That we didn’t do that speaks both to the inexperience of our OC and the reluctance of our CEO to put his foot down when it comes to his buddy. That has to change.

      • As I pointed out Saturday, ND ran outside the tackle either directly or with counters to defeat UMass and its stacked defense, after which UMass stopped running 8-9 in the box. Can’t tell me that TU doesn’t have backs that can run sweeps, counter plays, and off tackle. I agree with you Mike that Satterfiled was just waiting for a reason to revert back to that horrible offense that doesn’t work.

  6. and that’s where the ceo whose “heart hurt” should have immediately stepped in … I saw Bruce Arians grab Nick Rapone by the collar in a game at Piscataway when Temple was in a prevent defense and Scott Erney was carving it up. After the collar grab, Temple sent the house and sacked Erney 3 straight times, with Swift Burch ending the game sitting on top of Erney. Temple won, 35-30. Is “Matt” capable of a collar grab should “Sat” send the 4-5 wides out again?

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