Nobody outworks the Owls, so the 3-4 finish could have been a ND hangover.
One of the puzzling lessons of the Notre Dame game was that the Irish seemed to suck all of the Temple TUFF mojo out of the team for the remaining seven games of the season. The Owls finished 3-4 after starting 7-0, and there had to be a reason and the Notre Dame game was the easy scapegoat.
At first, it didn’t make sense.
Going down the rosters of the two teams, it could not have been the size factor as both lines were relatively the same height and weight.
Knowing how hard the Owls practice (see above video), it could not be because Notre Dame outworked the Owls. Got to figure the Owls get out there in the snow even more than Notre Dame—which has a bigger indoor practice facility—so it had to be something.
It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the difference was the running game and the size of the running backs, as Temple’s running game seemed to be worn down after ND, but ND did not suffer the same lack of production after TU.
The size was a factor there.
The Notre Dame running backs, C.J. Prosise (appropriately enough, pronounced PRO SIZE) and Josh Adams, were 6-1, 220 and 6-2, 210, respectively. The primary Temple back, Jahad Thomas, was 5-10, 180 (and the 180 might be generous).
There is no tougher kid on the Temple team than Thomas, but it was apparent he was so dinged up that his production dropped off dramatically in the final seven games.
The solution is simple: Temple needs a tough, reliable, slot receiver who is capable of making defenses pay with runs after catches and that receiver should be Jahad Thomas.
Temple needs a Prosise (or PRO SIZE) running back who can take the pounding for 14 games, not seven, and hand nicks out and not be nicked up and that guy could very well be Jager Gardner (6-2, 205) or Ryquell Armstead (5-10, 205). David Hood (5-10, 185) could be the occasional change-of-pace guy. Have those two battle it out in spring practice which begins in a couple of weeks and, if one emerges, make that guy the No. 1 back. If it’s too close to call, alternate series or quarters until one does.
Plus, it will be doing Thomas a favor because his position at the next level is slot receiver, not featured back. If Thomas lines up in the slot and does the same thing another No. 5, Jalen Fitzpatrick, did for Temple, the Owls will have something special again.
It’s the best of both worlds for Temple because, although departing slot receiver John Christopher was as tough as they come and had great hands, he did not get the yards after catch Thomas will. Plus, he and P.J. Walker have a symmetry that goes back to high school and, with Robby Anderson gone, Walker will need to establish the same kind of relationship with a receiver again.
Good teams learn lessons from losses and that’s probably the best takeaway from the Notre Dame one.
Wednesday: The New Run Game Coordinator