The Exception To the Rhule

snipone

If the Owls go from 10 wins to five in one year, staff changes need to be made

Whatever happens in Tulsa a week from now, 11 games have provided more than enough evidence to come to one conclusion.
If Matt Rhule was the perfect guy to lead Temple football into the next decade, and he probably was, Geoff Collins is The Exception to the, err, Rhule.
In other words, The Anti-Rhule.
matt rhule, temple football,

What made Rhule great here doesn’t necessarily transfer to Waco and what made Geoff Collins a good coordinator in Gainesville doesn’t necessarily transfer to the top spot here


It took Rhule three years to understand the key to winning at Temple is running the football behind the fullback, playing sound, fundamental defense (no Mayhem), shortening the game with long drives predicated on a running game that forced opposing defenses to bring their linebackers and safeties up to the line of scrimmage and then hitting on explosive plays in the passing game by using play-action.

You’ve got to wonder
if the Temple
administration is
kicking itself now
knowing that there
was a guy out there
who knows how to win
here, Al Golden,
and they passed on
him to roll the dice
on an unproven coordinator
It’s a simple formula but it’s a proven effective one for the last two double-digit win seasons. This is football, not Rocket Science.
Why Collins saw the need to tinker with that formula with talent tailor-made to run it is beyond the comprehension of most Temple fans.
Certainly this one.
The shame of it all is that Temple went from a guy in Rhule who understood what it takes to win here to someone who might never grasp the concept. What made Rhule great here doesn’t necessarily transfer to Waco and what made Geoff Collins a good coordinator in Gainesville doesn’t necessarily transfer to the top spot here. Rhule’s gone and probably won’t be back but you’ve got to wonder if the Temple administration is kicking itself now knowing that there was a guy out there who knows how to win here, Al Golden, and they passed on him to roll the dice on an unproven coordinator.
Now we have at least a 50/50 chance–I assume Tulsa will be either a two-point favorite or a two-point underdog when the lines come out–of going from two 10-win seasons to one five-win one.
I made it a point to approach Dr. Pat Kraft at the pre-game tailgate and congratulate him on one thing.
“What’s that?” the Temple AD said.
“Firing the soccer coach,” I said.
“Why?”
“Because you said in the statement that Temple will not accept mediocrity,” I said. “That’s something new at Temple because Temple never fires any coaches. That statement shows Temple’s not playing when it comes to holding coaches to a standard.”
“I meant it,” Pat said.
If this season finishes in a five-win disaster, big changes need to be made at least at the coordinator level if not above.
In a week, the Owls have a chance to be either mediocre or bad.
If it’s the latter, I hope Kraft holds American football to the same standard he demands from the international kind.
Tuesday: 5 Reasons To Give Thanks
Thursday: A Throwback Thanksgiving Day Story
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Fizzy’s Corner: Then Broad And (Now) Ridge

Editor’s Note: Now that Mack Brown says Temple has ditched the spread and gone back to the “Temple TUFF” offense it was known for the last two years, Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub has some nice things to say about Dave Patenaude. No nicknames for Patenaude quite yet, though.

By Dave (Fizzy) Weinraub

 Can you believe it?  For the first time, a bootleg at the goal line for a TD, and Frankie could have stopped off for a hot dog.  Then, some razzle – dazzle, where Frankie pitched to Wright, who then threw (finally) back to Frankie for a two point conversion.  There were even play-action passes on first down, (instead of drop-backs) and after turnovers, and even the second jet sweep of the year.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there were still up-the-guts at the wrong time, especially at first and goal, where we were still not efficient. It’s on first down, at first and goal when you have to show imagination.  But all-in-all, a remarkable turn around from the junior high offense we’ve been running all year.  There was so much improvement, I’m forced to upgrade the name of the offense from “Broad Street,” to the Ridge Avenue Offense.  Where Broad Street runs straight, Ridge Avenue twists and turns and curls.  Has Dave Patenaude seen the light?

footballs

However, I’m still pissed.  If we’d been running this type of offense all year, we certainly would have at least two more wins.  Also, Frank Nutile has been simply terrific.  His only two interceptions were passes that bounced off the receivers hands.  When given time, his passing has been phenomenal.  So my question is, why wasn’t he the starter from the beginning of the season?

The defense which had been mostly exceptional against the run, was only okay.  It allowed some sustained running plays for a time, but then righted itself.  It’s still the pass defense, especially against the two-minute offense that’s been terrible all year.  I just don’t understand why we can’t do the same thing the Eagles do in that situation. They rush four  and play a five across zone at about 12 yards, with a deep safety on each side. Then the defenders can see the QB and the ball, instead of running with their backs turned.  Even the announcer Friday night said, “no one knows where the ball is.”  We’ve given up an awful lot of TD’s in the right corner of the end-zone all year, and that’s because number ten (Jones), can’t see the ball.  To stop Central Florida, we have to defend the pass.

Wednesday: Geoff Collins Unplugged

Friday: Our Annual Tribute to the Seniors

Sunday: UCF Game Analysis 

Around The AAC: Another Hissed Off Saturday

saddest

Just when you thought a beautiful Saturday would be the antidote for the anger Temple fans justifiably felt after watching Temple lose two games it should not have the last two weeks, we offer you just two games you might have watched yesterday:

Missouri at UConn

Houston at South Florida

The loser in one of those games and the winner in another should have been games in the W column for Temple, but were not due to a long litany of bad coaching decisions in both games.

Just think about it: With USF’s loss to Houston, and Owls wins against two of the above teams, the Owls would be in the hunt to defend their title down the stretch.

That’s all we ever asked and it was never too much.

Now it won’t, thanks to a very poor choice of a coach and his choice of a coaching staff who combined to make the most dazzlingly poor decisions at the worst possible times against Houston and UConn.

We won’t get into those here, but just tell you that Temple had a first-and-goal at the 7 against Houston (and did not do the Temple thing of running the ball) and played a mistake-prone quarterback against UConn when it was apparent to all that the better choice all along was the guy who started at Army.

Ugh.

When the story of this Temple season is written, the author should have been John Greenleaf Whittier, who said:

“For all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: It might have been.”

After all of these games, Temple head coach Geoff Collins talks about the mistakes and says: “These will be corrected.” (Hey, what, exactly, was the eight months of practice before Notre Dame for? Shouldn’t that have been enough time to clean all that up?)

Interesting that some of the same mistakes made in the first game against Notre Dame and the second against Villanova have never been corrected.

However, the Owls go from game to game and the head coach promises to make corrections that never come.

Missouri, a team that lost, 35-3, to Purdue (which lost to lowly Rutgers), took UConn to the woodshed. UConn has the worst pass defense in college football and Temple has among the best receivers, but the Owls were so stubborn in their desire to have a “running quarterback” that they gave up whatever advantage in the passing game they had by not giving the two better “passing quarterbacks” on the above-the-line chart a shot.

Houston, a team that the Owls should have beat, got the job done that the Owls did not at USF.

Talent?

No, coaching.

The solution is nowhere in sight as the powers-that-be at Temple don’t eat contracts nor do they have the appetite to dine at that expensive restaurant. In a perfect world, they would tell Al Golden to get the binder and the staff ready now so we can get back to the Temple football brand he created.

Temple athletics lives in another world, unfortunately.

Temple will have to face Navy, UCF, Cincinnati and Tulsa and the only realistic win right now is Cincy and it has nowhere near as much to do with talent as it does with coaching. Recruits will see that and it could have a effect that would cause this whole thing to spiral downward.

If that doesn’t hiss you off, it should.

John Greenleaf Whittier would be turning over in his grave.

Tuesday: Losing Is An Attitude

Thursday: Navy Preview

Friday: Game Analysis

Monday: The Kelly Solution

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 

Fizzy’s Corner: Nova Game

fizz

Editor’s Note: Occasionally, we give a former Owl player, Fizzy Weinraub, a chance to give his analysis. Fizzy and I have been spoiled by watching coach Hardin, but that does not keep us from hoping that some of Hardin’s innovation and at least a sliver of his genius can be absorbed by this new coaching staff. Here is Fizzy’s take on the Nova game.

By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub

Offense

What did I ever do to piss-off the football gods?  Will I never see an outstanding offensive coordinator at Temple, or just year-after-year be forced to watch the same unimaginative baby pap of play calling.  

No deception – Horrible goal line calls – No roll outs – No QB runs – No reverses – No bootlegs – No screens – No shovel passes –  No fakes and passes to the FB – No play-action – No throwbacks to the QB

All this offense does is hand-off straight ahead, and drop straight back to throw.

At the end of this horrendous game, Why would you voluntarily stop your offense, leave time on the clock, and force a 50-yard field goal instead of:

 

  1.  Going for one more first down which would have enabled to use the remainder of the clock before kicking a field goal.

 

  1.  Keep going for a touchdown until you’re stopped.

 

OFFENSIVE GRADE – F

Defense

 

The defense mostly stopped their running game, and mostly did not stop their passing game because:

 

  1.  They did not blitz enough

 

  1.  They stayed in the same basic defense the whole game, which enabled Villanova to make half-time adjustments to their passing routes, which were not countered.  

 

One possible solution would have been to go into a tight prevent and play zone to stop the crossing patterns underneath which absolutely killed us. There’s no way, playing man-to-man, a deep defensive back can close the gap and cover a receiver running short, across the field. Also, I’m so tired of watching our defensive backs trail the receivers down-field and have no idea of where the ball is.

DEFENSIVE GRADE – D

This coaching staff has to stop playing not to lose, and start playing to win, or we will get killed by the good teams in our conference.

Tuesday: What Happened To Mayhem?

Thursday: UMass Preview

 

Gone Too Soon

In a large way, Kee-Ayre Griffin started this football turnaround at Temple University.

After sending someone I did not know a congratulatory email for getting 28 highly-rated commits in his first month on the job, Al Golden shot back a reply.

“Thanks, Mike. It’s not over yet. We’re waiting on a guy from St. Peter’s who might be the best of the class. It’s between us, Maryland and Boston College. Wish us luck.
_Al”

Griffin, who died last week, was that guy and Golden got him. Getting Griffin started a Golden run where he’d win a handful of recruiting battles with Power 5 schools every year.
That’s how you recruit at Temple University. You get mostly two stars that you “coach up” to four stars, but you reach up and grab a few four-stars–like Griffin–in every class. Temple certainly departed from the ingredients of that mix  in the most recent class and we will not know if the resulting cake will be delicious or flat until four years down the line.

athletic

Griffin did not turn out to be the Mega Star back all of the scouting services had him being, but he was more than a serviceable running back who found his niche after being switched over to the defensive side of the ball.

Before that happened, he had a key fumble in an overtime loss at Navy that never should have happened and a young head coach who did not know any better threw him under the bus afterward. With 17 seconds left and on fourth down deep in your own territory against a triple option team with no time outs, you punt the ball, plain and simple.

That’s Coaching 101.


That’s how you recruit
at Temple University.
You get mostly two stars
that you “coach up” to
four stars, but you reach
and grab a few
four-stars–like Griffin–in
every class

In 2009, I was walking down the corridor of the fourth floor of the team hotel, the Renaissance Marriott,  in Washington D.C. and saw Griffin, dressed in a Temple warmup, leaving about three hours before the Eagle Bank Bowl. Knowing the team had left a couple hours before, I said:
“Kee, what happened to you?”
“I got suspended.”
Not wanting to know what it was for, I just said:
“Sorry to hear that. We need you out there.”
“Thanks.”

After hopping on the D.C. Metro, the entire car broke out into a loud “Let’s Go Temple” rhythmic chant that lasted the entire ride to RFK Stadium. Thinking about the “regular” commuters hearing that, it was one of my proudest moments as a Temple fan. In the rear of the same car, I saw Griffin taking in the whole scene and smiling. Hell, I got pretty choked up watching this scene unfold.

In 2011, while playing for Steve Addazio, he had the most athletic interception I ever saw a Temple player make, diving by the sideline to intercept a Penn State pass. It would have won the game, but Mike Gerardi returned the favor three plays later and Penn State went on to win, 14-10. If not for that, Griffin’s play would have gone down with Sharif Finch’s interception as two game-changing plays in wins over Penn State, but it was not to be.

While he might have hung with the wrong crowd after Temple, the Kee-Ayre Griffin I knew was a good guy who loved the school and his teammates and made a huge impact at Temple. Two other teammates, Anthony Ferla and Adrian Robinson, also did not make it to their 30th birthday and that is the very definition of gone too soon. The arguments about Kee hanging with the wrong crowd should be for another day. He’s gone and his Temple family is grieving along with his blood relatives. The same can be said for Ferla and Robinson, who died under different circumstances.

All of them deserved to be remembered for the significant contributions they made to Temple.
Wednesday: Sustainability

Timing Is Everything

logos

Any Temple football fan since the days of the MAC knows that planning ahead can be a tricky thing.

You set aside the day for the home games and hope you can get to at least some of the nearby games.

You very rarely know more than a few weeks, sometimes a few days, what the exact kickoff times will be.

Such is life in the television-dominated world of college football these days.

Something different happened this season, though.

Temple fans now know the kickoff times and the days for many of the games and that can be a good thing.

Of course, the most important game time is the one on Sept. 2 at Notre Dame, perhaps the highest-profile remaining game on the TU sked until 2024. That game will start at 3:30 on NBC and probably be on in every bar and tavern in the country.

Three-thirty is perhaps the best time for a home Temple game and the Owls lucked out by hosting Villanova on 3:30 on Sept. 9. That game will not be on over-the-air television in Philadelphia, which is probably a good thing because that means there will be more fannies in the seats than usual. If the Owls don’t get at least 35,000 for this one it will be a major disappointment considering they drew 34,000 for the home opener against Army last year.

On Sept. 15, the Owls host UMass on ESPNU at 7 p.m. The less said about that game the better.

On September 21, the Owls travel to hot Tampa for a 7:30 (or 8) ESPN game. Probably best for them that game is not being played in the daytime.

Another time etched in zone is the revenge match against Army, high noon, on Oct. 21. That game will be on CBS Sports Network. Owls also host Navy in another revenge match (for them) on Nov. 2 on ESPN. That is either a 7:30 or 8 p.m. start.

The final known starting time is the Nov. 10 game at Cincinnati, 7 p.m., on ESPN2.

Still unknown are the times of games against Houston, East Carolina, UConn, UCF and Tulsa but winning the AAC championship certainly seems to have put the Owls in a position where a lot of their game times are already known.

You could not say the same thing this time last year.

The Lineup

Sept 2 @Notre Dame 3:30 NBC
Sept 9 Villanova 3:30 ESPN3
Sept 15 Umass 7:00 ESPNU
Sept 21 @USF 7:30/8 ESPN
Oct 21 @Army 12:00 CBSSN
Nov 2 Navy 7:30/8 ESPN
Nov 10 @Cincinnati 7:00 ESPN2
Houston @East Carolina Uconn UCF @ Tulsa TBD

Wednesday: Sweet Home Recruiting