Expect Mr. Whipple to Squeeze The Charmin

The next time anyone tells you that a first-year coach cannot succeed with “other people’s players” and “it’s only his first year” offer them the example of UMass head coach Mark Whipple. (Steve Addazio’s debut also gave Temple its first bowl win in over 30 years with Al Golden talent, but that’s a story for another day.)


Mr. Whipple probably has
watched enough film to figure
out that the Temple linebackers
are the “Charmin soft” underbelly
of an otherwise pretty stout
defense so expect a lot of passes
to the tight end and crossing
routes underneath designed
to confuse that young group

In 1998, with “other people’s players” Whipple, who came over from Brown University, won a national championship at UMass. It was a FCS (then Division IAA) championship, but it was a championship nonetheless. That endeared him so much with the UMass faithful that they have given him two stints as a head coach, including the current one taking him to Lincoln Financial Field (7 p.m.) for a Friday night date against the Temple Owls.

Mr. Whipple is on the hot seat now, not necessarily for his coaching deficiencies but more due to the fact that it is impossible for an Independent not named Notre Dame to compete in the world of FBS football now. That doesn’t mean Temple should relax on Friday night because this is a guy who has always been good with his X’s and O’s going up against a rookie staff.

On December 19, 1998, Whipple’s Minutemen beat the then No. 1 FCS team in the country, Georgia Southern, 55-43, on ESPN for the national title.

That makes Whipple part of a very small club, a guy who is still coaching who has won a national title,

USATSI_8812076_149008644_lowres

Mark Whipple displays the ‘][‘ upside down.

so beware of opposing head coaches smart enough to win it all.

Mr. Whipple probably has watched enough film to figure out that the Temple linebackers are the “Charmin soft” underbelly of an otherwise pretty stout defense so expect a lot of passes to the tight end and crossing routes underneath designed to confuse that young group.

It’s up to Temple DC Taver Johnson to anticipate that mode of attack and be prepared for it, but based on the first two games, there is no evidence that he’s up to that task. That’s where Geoff Collins, who is qualified in that area, has to step in and become interim DC, at least on a defacto basis, until the problems on that side of the ball get cleaned up.

On the other side of the ball, Mr. Whipple is smart enough to know that Temple’s supposedly innovative new offensive coordinator, Dave Patenaude, has run essentially only four plays and they are these (not necessarily in order): 1) Sideline passes to wide receivers; 2) Fullback dive to Nick Sharga; 3) A wide toss to Ryquell Armstead; 4) An occasional pass to the tight end, which is always dropped.

So much for innovation.

No reverses, no shovel passes, no halfback passes, and, in the last game, two touches for perhaps the most dynamic player this team has on offense (Isaiah Wright). Only two touches for Wright is coaching malfeasance at best and borderline criminal at worst.

Surely, Mr. Whipple has seen that and will react accordingly to stop those four plays. How much Temple improvises and adjusts on both offense and defense could very well be the difference between an embarrassing defeat and a blowout win.

If the former happens, Temple’s going to need a shipment of Charmin because this season will be headed for the toilet.

Saturday: Game Analysis 

16 thoughts on “Expect Mr. Whipple to Squeeze The Charmin

  1. An even more recent example, didn’t hear any of this first year excuse when Tom Herman took over in Houston

  2. I’m interested to see the energy level of the players this week. I fear that they have lost faith in leadership.
    Can we see some “mayhem” that we were promised and not just “ho-hum”?
    Remember coaches…..you promised, you even put it on t-shirts!

  3. I thought the clock management was poor in the scoring drive at the end of the first half against Villanova. With all of our time outs left, Coach Collins let time run between plays when a play did not stop the clock. We ended up with only time for one play at the goal line when Sharga scored. Better clock management would have given us multiple plays to score. I finally listened to Coach Collins press conference where he brags about how good the two minute drill was because the team practices it every practice. He seemed oblivious to clock management. I guess defensive coordinators don’t learn about clock management and they don’t practice it in their two minute drill practice.

    • Good point Phil, another example of playing not to lose. We might score, we might not, but at least there won’t be time for them to score.

    • Another example of Collins learning on the job is clock management. Even Collins himself said he was better the second game than he was the first game because he was so used to being focused on making the defensive calls as a DC over much of the last 18 or so years. One of the problems with Temple, as Ben once wrote, is they keep churning this coordinator pile and end up with guys who have to learn on the job the first year at best and some who might never learn at worst. To me, the best hires we could have made are guys who can jump in and hit the ground running, like Turner Gill or Al Golden. Gill took Liberty talent and beat Baylor talent. Golden spent five years learning on the job and was a better coach in Year Five than Year One. Collins is the guy we have, though, and let’s pray he’s been cramming the last week.

  4. Bum Phillips said about Bear Bryant: He can take his’n and beat your’n,” Phillips said. “Or he can take your’n and beat his’n.” Now I’m sure Ol Bear preferred to have “his’n”. But the obvious point is good coaches find ways to win with what they’ve got and the excuse about a coach needing his players is lame.

    • Amazing that Gill spent the last couple of years recruiting FCS talent for Liberty and he goes into Baylor and beats Art Briles’ talent. Says a lot about the game day coaching ability of Matt Rhule vs. Turner Gill.

  5. Mike, do you think what side of the game a coordinator comes from makes any difference. Reason for asking is, in our own conference both Herman as I mentioned and Mike Norvell at Memphis stepped in as first time HCs and didn’t miss a beat with any of this new coach, first year etc and both came from the offensive side.

    • NFL talent under center affords the best/quickest route to the next level..,

      Charlie Strong convinced 4-star Terry Bridgewater to come to Louisville.., he started every game as a freshmen, and took them to the promised land the next two years.., who is the Louisville starting QB now?

      pls mark these words.., if Temple ever receives and accepts a P5 invite it will only be when they have NFL talent under center..,

      correlation is too strong.., PJ made an NFL practice squad.., back to back 10 win season, but didn’t finish in the Top 25.., that means we got close on both ends

    • Yes, on one side of the ball. If Herman and Norvell faced the kind of defensive problems that led to 49 points yielded in the first game, those fans probably would have rather had a DC. So Temple has pretty much chosen you can win titles defense, so I would hope they concentrate on defense. Still, pretty much done with coordinators.

  6. It will take Rosie and a case of Brawny to mop up UMass after this game.

  7. Listening to the Temple Radio Broadcast is painfully awful. OMG I switched over to the UMass broadcast, which was much better. Harry and Paul make a bad game worse.

  8. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s game analysis post. Unfortunately, or maybe not, I didn’t go down to the game tonight. Been fighting a bad head cold all week and wasn’t up for the traffic with all the events tonight. That being said it was bad enough watching on tv. I know any win is a good win but if we started the season with 2 conference games after ND we would be looking at 0-3 right now. I do think these first 3 games answered some questions: is Collins a better game day coach then Rhule? I haven’t seen it, I hope he’s a better recruiter, because I’m beginning to wonder how good Rhule was in that department. If I’m not mistaken this year’s team would be the first with the majority of players his recruits. Well if all we got for that is as the announcers said repeatedly a team evenly matched with UMASS, and I didn’t see much that said otherwise, then we’re not in good shape. Some other things I learned is that apparently Coastal Carolina doesn’t miss Patenaude too much since they scored 35 or 38 points in their win over UMASS. Our defensive line is at least as good as Old Dominion, who had 7 sacks in there win. Other than that still not seeing too much mayhem. Not looking forward to the next 2 games and outside of ECU and UCONN don’t see too many more possible wins on the schedule. Too me a 4 or 5 win season is a total disaster. Hopefully at the end of the season I’ll be able to laugh off this post as just panicking

  9. For the second week in a row, the defense was totally outplayed. There were UMass receivers tonight who caught passes with no TU guy within ten yards of them. Then, for the second week in a row, the other team gains huge yardage on simple drags across the field. Didn’t the defensive coaches watch the films from last week? I really don’t believe they did because they did not stop that play this week after getting killed with it last week. What did the defensive coaches think UMass was going to run after last week? Then on offense, there is no scheme. Can’t run a read option offense with a QB (Marchi) that can’t or won’t run. They then blow the frosh QB’s red shirt and then don’t use him anymore even though he gave them a spark. Finally, the most horrible thing I saw was running a qb option on consecutive series when it was 3rd and 6 to the short side of the field. The play is bad enough but why would you run it twice, both times into the short side of the field. USF is going to smoke the Owls. They have been waiting for this game since last season.

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