5 Things We’ve Learned So Far

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Romond Deloatch is probably more valuable to the Owls as a rush end than a WR.

To me, the big surprise has that Temple football has not been as good as expected.

So far, but that does not mean it has to last so long.

That’s not just a Temple fan talking here, it is from the perspective of places like The Sporting News that picked the Owls to finish first in the AAC East. That still can happen, but the results of the first four weeks gives even the most optimistic fan pause.

Temple could not get the job done against Army, despite having eight months to prepare for the triple option. Somehow, Buffalo—a team with considerably less talent than the Owls—did get the job done. The Owls could not get the job done at Penn State, committing 120 yards in penalties (including numerous false starts and offsides). Had the Owls been a disciplined-enough team to cut those penalties in half they likely would have won. Mike Pettine Sr. proved the way to eliminate penalties at Central Bucks West was repetition, repetition and more repetition and then by grabbing a few facemasks and yelling a few choice words to offenders at practice so they do not become repeat offenders during games. Temple could use a Mike Pettine now. That’s where you clean up penalties, in practice, not in games.

That does not look like it happens at Temple or at least has happened so far. These are the five things we’ve learned about the AAC and the Owls through 1/3d of the regular season:

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Noles scored 55 on USF.

  1. USF Might Be Vulnerable

For the first couple of weeks, USF established itself as the clear favorite to win the AAC East. It showed some vulnerability, though, in a 55-35 home loss to Florida State on Saturday. Remember, this was the same Florida State defense that allowed 70 points to Louisville the week prior to the game against the Bulls. Temple DC Phil Snow will have to devise a specialty defense, perhaps involving a spy on quarterback Quinton Flowers, to slow down the Bulls’ offense. As we learned against Army, though, Snow is not comfortable devising specialty defenses.

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Nick Sharga and Jahad Thomas

  1. Nick Sharga More Valuable At Linebacker

As valuable as Nick Sharga is as a blocking fullback, he’s a better linebacker and moving him to defense would help the Owls shore up a hole on that side of the field. Sharga had 15 plays as a fullback and 15 more as a linebacker in a 31-12 win over Memphis last year, and he was easily one of the defensive stars of that game. Rob Ritrovato has shown to be a serviceable blocker at fullback and can do that job.

  1. Pocket Needs to Roll

When Phillip Walker rolls one way and throws the other, as in the wheel route throw to Jahad Thomas, he is a lethal passer. The same can be said when he rolls one way and throws on that same side, as in the touchdown pass to Brodrick Yancy. The more the Owls can roll the pocket, the more dangerous their offense becomes. That needs to grow exponentially going forward.

  1. Knack For Sacks

When Marcus Smith was a backup quarterback at Louisville,  he asked for a few snaps on defense and ended up with seven sacks at practice one day. The coach at the time, Charlie Strong, then moved him permanently to defense. Romond Deloatch set what is thought to be a Temple practice record for sacks with the same seven, but the difference was that head coach Matt Rhule moved him back to offense. Deloatch has a knack for this sack thing, and since none of the other Owls have shown it, he needs to be moved back to defensive end—at least for third and longs. Who knows? Maybe he could become a first-round pick, too. Temple has plenty of good receivers; it needs a sackmeister and Deloatch is certainly that.

  1. Temple’s Slow Start Is Fixable

Temple has shown flashes of brilliance on offense and probably will continue to improve in that area. The Owls, though, need help on the defensive side of the ball. They have a former defensive tackle starter as a backup offensive guard, Brian Carter (6-1, 304), and they could use that experience and bulk back on the defensive side to stop the run. Add Sharga and Deloatch and hit APPLY, and that could be the fix the defense needs. We know one thing.

It could not hurt.

Wednesday: Not-So-Sudden Death

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18 thoughts on “5 Things We’ve Learned So Far

  1. It was later 1st qtr or beginning of 2nd qtr when MR huddled the entire team during a time out. We had just committed another stupid penalty and no doubt in my mind he read them the riot act. That was a good piece of coaching..,

    Five observations so far:

    1. We are losing the battle at the point of attack. Both the OL and DL are getting beat at the line of scrimmage. Our play at DT is the worst in the league. We are last in the conference in rushing and next to last in rush defense. How many sacks have we recorded again?

    2. JT is a special player; and, he is the only one we have on the team. Funny how life works, we recruited Walker but he had to convince the staff to take a chance on JT. Now it is JT who has the chance to play at the next level.

    3. The AAC East is much improved and we are much worse than last year.

    4. We still need to build it before they will come. Too many of our fans would rather party in the parking lot, sit at home, or sit in the club lounge and watch the game on TV. Why? They don’t have a compelling reason to do otherwise. Losing to Army at home, terrible 1st quarter agianst Charlotte.., etc., etc.,

    5. Man for man, our freshmen class is far better than the current senior class. The best players should play, our best players can get us back to a bowl game.

    7-5 finish capped with a bowl win.., trophy in the case, momentum for finishing with a strong recruiting year.

    • Sobering post. I’m a little more optimistic, thinking we can grab 1-2 more wins. Very impressed with Memphis, not at all impressed by teams like UConn and SMU. Temple has got to take the approach that it can lose to anyone and beat anyone. I hope Anthony Russo doesn’t fall victim to “Jim Cooper Jr.” syndrome. That is, Cooper was an All-American kicker in high school and got thrown into the wolves for his first college game action at Notre Dame and got totally spooked. He was not the same kicker afterward. Total loss of confidence. Russo can be inoculated against “Jim Cooper Jr. Syndrome” by getting into the next game at garbage time and throwing it around the lot. Get him used to the game speed of the college game. They can still save his redshirt. (In order to redshirt, you must not play in 30 percent of the games or at all in the second half of the season.)

      • At this point to be honest I’m not yet overly impressed with Memphis, so fa they’ve beaten 2 teams in the CBSSports Bottom 25 ( i know that list is just opinion) and an FCS team. Now if they beat Ole Miss this week a different story. Also, ECU and Cincinnati don’t look like anything special this year either. Not saying we can’t lose to either or both of these teams but wouldn’t put them in the much improved category over last year. Finally if UCF is that much improved over Temple this year after being 0-12 last and Temple is that much worse, then “Houston we have a problem” with who is running this program. I’m more on an 8-4 record or slightly better for this season.

    • After 4 games I think it is too early to tell anything about most teams in the AAC. We will find out when these teams start playing each other. This team is searching for an identity, offense has shown it can move the ball in the air but run attack is lacking. Oline is below last year’s group. On defense, team is quicker than last year but not as stout up the middle. Need to find a consistent pass rusher, the pass rush has been abysmal.

  2. I wonder if the staff thinks your way about some of the personnel changes you propose, but so as not to let the world think you may be on to something, purposely doesn’t?

    Hopefully with the AAC games starting this week, perhaps they have been working on some of the moves you’ve suggested and will unveil them in the next couple games. Hope so, as they can sure use a pass rush.

    SMU will be a good indicator. On paper, should win. Coaches have the task now of getting players ready to play. That USF got creamed should open the team’s eyes to the fact they have a good shot to win the division and motivate them. Coaches need to build on that.

  3. Heads up to Owl fans. Major League baseball moved the start of the Phils-Mets game to early afternoon. If the Mets are still in the wild card race, the stadium area could be really busy that morning.

    • I doubt that the Mets’ fans get there at 8 a.m. The hardcore Temple tailgaters should be OK. It’s the late-arriving Temple fans that will have problems (the people who get there between 11-noon).

  4. Unless the redshirt rules changed very recently, I remember some of you guys within the last few years saying when the first time Rhule used a freshman that he “burned” a redshirt year for that player. Well, now you say they can play in a third of the games in the first half of a season. Which is it? I’m confused.
    Agree with kj that 7 wins may be the best this team will do this year, allowing 3 more losses in the last 8 games with a schedule that could be pretty tough for the Owls (unless things improve a bit). And a bowl game, but not necessarily a win, would make a somewhat respectable season. Temple would at least have set a new record for having consecutive bowl seasons. Of course i’m wishing for more but after last years seaon ending slump that occured in one of Temple’s very best seasons, I realistically can’t think we’ll do any better than 7 and a bowl.

    • When we (specifically, me) said “burn a redshirt” it meant Steve Addazio burning Nate L. Smith’s redshirt with kickoff returns in the second half of the season in 2012. Also, he used Matt Ioannidis sparingly (maybe 1-2 plays) in two games in 2012’s second half of the season. If you use a player even on ONE PLAY in the second half of the season, that is burning a redshirt. The 30 percent rule applies to the first half of the season. In other words, if Russo played against SMU, went 25-for-38 with 550 yards and 5 TDs, he could sit the rest of the season and save his redshirt. (Once the Owls get to 4-2, he cannot play without losing his redshirt.) Thirty percent rule refers to first half of the season; 1 play rule refers to second half of the season. That has been in effect for awhile, maybe 10 years.

    • As an outsider I thought Temple was an 8-4 type team this year; while it’s now ‘conference season’ and anything can happen, I thought the TU fans that thought you weren’t missing a step from last year were being wayyyyy too idealistic. Unless you’re a Top 10 blueblood-type program, the idea of ‘reloading’ is much more myth than fact.

      One thing to remember about USF’s loss this past weekend- outside of Houston, there is no team in the AAC that is on either Louisville or FSU’s level. I dont think you should be shaking on your boots over USF but I don’t know what exactly them losing to FSU means for you either outside of some potential schematics.

      I think you will definitely contend for the AAC East though I wouldn’t sleep on some teams like UConn; their games are usually duller than watching an empty bus stop but their defense is usually sound. If they slow the game down on you, they can end up clipping you at the wire. If you do go 7-5/8-4, I do think you really need to win your bowl game or else it’s going to leave too much of a sour taste in your mouth going into ’17, which will likely be much more of a rebuilding year than this season for you.

      • I think next year is the “step back” year, not this one. Until the Owls prove me wrong against USF, which I think is possible.

      • Agree with you Mike. Next season the Owls have Houston, Navy, and Tulsa on the schedule along with the eastern conference foes (USF on the road) plus, ND, Army, Villanova, and UMass. Should beat Nova and Umass but who knows especially since they almost bombed against UMass last year. And given Phil Snow’s lack of success against the triple option can’t feel confident that they will beat Army. A bowl eligible record next season will be tough.

      • If this season turns out no better than 7-5 and the 2017 season is truly the “step back” as Mike and John lay out, I have to ask is a program really being built here. With that kind of performance and an OC stadium looking less likely (if that is one prerequisite to move up to a P5 conference), then I would say any P5 talk is a pipe dream.

  5. Got this email from Fizzy,who suggests the Owls should use the triple option:

    Adventures in Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Land (Once More)

    SO here the Owls sit at 2 & 2, when they woulda, shoulda, coulda been 4 & 0. Saturday, they vanquished an undermanned and overwhelmed Charlotte team, who unfortunately was safer in Philadelphia than back home. The good news is Temple finally opened up the offense a bit. Had they used Phillip Walker better on rollouts (right) with the option to throw, bootlegs and QB draws, and added some reverses and counters earlier in the year, we might have been 4 & 0. In fairness though, had Jahad Thomas been able to play against Army, we probably would have won despite the uninspired offensive play calling which carried over to the Penn State game.

    GOOD coaches are able to teach their system. Great coaches modify their system to suit their talent. Staring us in the face is the possibility of using our exceptional running talent in a better fashion. Walker is an outstanding running quarterback who hasn’t really been allowed to run since his freshman year. Thomas is an exceptional running back, especially when there’s some daylight, and Armstead is a very good power back. Does this suggest anything to you?

    WE saw this offensive scheme earlier this year and we couldn’t stop it. Yes Owl fans, I’m talking about the Triple Option. Armstead busts up the middle, Walker options the end, and Thomas gets outside where he’s the most dangerous. I’m not suggesting we restructure our entire offense. I am suggesting we add this to our arsenal and make defending us terribly difficult.

    I’m just sayin…

    Dave (Fizzy) Weinraub

    • Walker is no longer a double threat QB with the bum shoulder.., you saw what happened Saturday when it popped out of joint..,

      • Plus, is it me or has he lost some speed since his freshman year? Could it be too much weightlifting?

      • Mike, think you make a good point, I’ve thought the same thing. I also never felt Walker was a “running QB” but rather a mobile one, who could move around in the pocket, and occassionally scramble for a first down

      • His freshman and sophomore years he was a magician at times. At PSU, he avoided at least five sacks. My read this year is that he either lost a step or he’s not seeing or sensing sacks like he used to. During the Army game, the Walker of old would have avoided at two of those sacks.

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