Sometimes you have to read between the lines when you listen to some of these early football interviews.
The biggest takeaway from the first scrimmage interview with Temple head coach Matt Rhule—which Morgyn Siegfried does very well—is that “we’re not a very good football team right now.”
Taken on its face value, that’s not good.
Listen more, though, and Rhule will say that Jahad Thomas didn’t play and Jager Gardner was banged up, but Ryquell Armstead was healthy and making plays all over the place. Those three guys are the keys to making the run game work and it takes just one to make it work. If the run game works, then the rest of the offense works because P.J. Walker’s fakes into the belly of any running back make passing plays much more effective.
If the run game is working, then Walker’s fakes to, say, Jager Gardner, bring the linebackers and the safeties closer to the line of scrimmage and the seams in the passing game become that much more open for guys like Adonis Jennings, Ventell Bryant, Cortrelle Simpson, Romond Deloatch, Kip Patton and Colin Thompson. If Jahad is still banged up, more reason to split him out and make him an explosive stretch-the-field receiver where he will be less banged up. It’s not like the Owls are thin on game-breaking running backs.
Small gains in the run game lead to explosive plays in the passing game.
Then, listen to the defensive coaches interview and a whole different viewpoint emerges. “Our chemistry is ridiculous,” was one comment Jared Alwan made of the linebackers and he meant ridiculously good, not ridiculously bad.
The truth is somewhere in between “we’re not a very good football team right now” and “we’re going to be very good by April 16.”
And, hopefully, better by September. It’s all coachspeak right now until then. In my mind, this is a 10-11 win team and nothing anyone says other than an injury to Walker changes that paradigm.
Tuesday: Temple’s 99 percent
Thursday: 5 Questions That Need To Be Asked