Tea Leaves and The Coaching Shuffle

taver

Taver Johnson

You’ve got to hand it to Geoff Collins.

With some recent coaching assignment reshuffling, his vague “Above The Line” concept  at least has extended throughout the Temple football organization.

A cynic would suggest that Andrew Thacker’s “promotion” to defensive coordinator would indicate that Collins was not entirely pleased with the job former defensive coordinator Taver Johnson did. Yet, despite the promotion of Thacker, Johnson was named “co-defensive coordinator” in the shuffle. So we have a new defensive coordinator, yet the old guy is the co-defensive coordinator, and an assistant head coach to boot.

Like the depth chart that really isn’t a depth chart, the lines are further blurred here because this doesn’t indicate who will be calling the defensive signals.  Got to think this is a way to get Johnson a raise, as well as some of the other guys. Presumably not getting a raise last year’s offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude because the title Johnson “assistant head coach” had on defense went to a familiar name on offense.

folmeister

 

Foley, who knows Temple tough inside and out, must have pulled the remaining hair of out his head when Patenaude called for a pass on first-and-goal from the 1

 

That’s also the title Ed Foley got on offense and all of us at Temple Football Forever (all one of us) are thrilled with that promotion. That means that Foley is the new boss of current offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude and we might not see a pass on first-and-goal at the one with 3:16 left in the Army game. At least that’s the hope. Foley, who knows Temple tough inside and out, must have pulled the remaining hair of out his head when Patenaude called for a pass on first-and-goal from the 1. Foley would have lined Ryquell Armstead (who had 151 yards in that game) behind fullback Nick Sharga and pounded Rock home for six on first down. Patenaude went Coastal Carolina soft and got zero points and cost Temple a win.

All in all, coaching assignments, like depth charts, should give fans an indication of who rises to the top of the organization but this is how Collins wants to operate so let’s hope he’s successful with it.

Other changes:

Reggie Garrett was promoted to defensive analyst after spending two seasons as a graduate assistant, working with the defense. Tom Pajic moves from director of player personnel to senior offensive adviser. Larry Knight, who was in charge of quality control for defense and recruiting, is now the director of player personnel.

Last week, Adam DiMichele was named recruiting coordinator/offensive assistant, allowing him to become the 10th full-time assistant coach. DiMichele shares similar offensive principles with Foley, which is a good thing.

Here are the coaches who have different roles and/or were promoted:

Ed Foley: assistant head coach offense/special teams coordinator/tight ends

Taver Johnson: assistant head coach defense/co-defensive coordinator/safeties

Dave Patenaude: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks

Andrew Thacker: Defensive coordinator/linebackers

Jim Panagos: Defensive line/run game coordinator

Chris Wiesehan: Offensive line/run game coordinator

Tom Pajic: Senior offensive adviser

Larry Knight: Director of player personnel

Josh Linam: Quality control – defense

Friday: Killing Two Birds With One Stone

Monday: Strange Hastags

Wednesday; Great Expectations

Friday: The One That Got Away

2/5: Temple’s Super Bowl

2/7: Signing Celebration Primer

2/8: Signing Celebration Recap

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Fizzy’s Corner: Putting on Bow(l) on 2017

 

fullbacksnow

Winning a bowl game is what you practice in the snow for in February.

Editor’s Note: I met Fizz at a tailgate in the Al Golden years and immediately hit it off with him. If this truly is his last submission of the season, we thank him for his contributions. Not only a great former Temple player, but more importantly a great guy to talk to at the tailgates and we both had a good talk with Temple AD Dr. Pat Kraft together last year.

By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub

That the Delaware Valley win over Husson University (???) was on page 7 of the Inquirer, and Temple’s victory over Tulsa was on Page 9, about sums up the season.  Six and six, when we woulda, coulda, shoulda been nine and three, was a disappointing beginning to Geoff Collins tenure.

For me, it wasn’t the record itself, but the questionable coaching strategies exhibited throughout the year.  My doubts began at the semi-closed scrimmage at Franklin Field, before the Notre Dame game.  After watching for an hour, I remarked to a former teammate, “I hope that’s not the offense.”  Unfortunately, for the first eight games, it was the offense. I called it the “Broad Street” offense because everything was straight ahead.  On a creative scale of 1 to 10, our offense was a 1.

fizz

There is a chance Fizz gets his swag on in Boca Raton again like he did in this photo two years ago.

 

Briefly, I want to comment on the Tulsa game which looked like the raggedy-ass cadets vs. the one-armed robot.  I never thought I’d see a college game where a team didn’t have a quarterback, but that’s what happened.  Tulsa had a wide-receiver playing QB at the end, and yet we couldn’t stop the off-tackle left and right.  Their running back gained over 220 yards.  Imagine!

 

Back in the day, did you ever meet a pretty girl, and yet there was no magic?  Although his play-calling improved significantly in the last three games, Dave Patenaude has shown little magic.  For example, he runs successfully three times in a row, and then wants to pass.  Fine!  But in that situation you throw from play-action, not from drop-back.

 

Next, after Tulsa almost blocked two extra-points in a row, we decide to go for a long field goal at fourth-and-three, on their thirty-four yard line.  Why?  The result was a blocked kick.  How about the split or “cheese-steak” offensive set?  Dave goes to that in the fourth quarter, and runs the same play he’s run every time before; the quick throw to Wright.  Doesn’t he know they’ve seen that play on tape? If you’re going to use that formation, you pump the throw to Wright, and have the end take off deep.

 

But the worst call of the game came with forty seconds left.  We’re on their twelve-yard line, and all we had to do was take a knee to end the game.  Instead, we ran Sharga up the middle.  So what?  Here’s what!  We had a devastating knee injury to one of our offensive linemen.

 

Enough about the offense…  We have a former SEC defensive coordinator as head coach, and yet we’ve had a porous pass defense until the very end.  Even this past Saturday, we tried to cover triple wideouts with two defenders.  On Tulsa’s scoring pass play in the first quarter, three receivers were open.  Later, they would send three wideouts to one side, and one wideout on the other, just to setup the off-tackle run.  We never adjusted, as the stats will show.  Also, we lost two games at the very end because we didn’t have an effective pass prevent defense all year, and then there were the misused time-outs in the Connecticut game.

 

However, to be fair, the players love Collins, we won half our games, and the team always played with great enthusiasm.  Next year, we’ll be able to add recruiting into the formula.

 

To sum up the 2017 season, the coaching staff earned a grade of “C.”

 

The Past and the Future

 

Al Golden with Matt Rhule as offensive coordinator, was a mediocre game-day combination.

 

Here’s one of the worst play calls I’ve ever seen.  Trailing by ten points, and with ten minutes left in the game, we had a fourth and one, at the Navy forty yard-line.  Al called a time-out, and when it was over, he punted.  Knowing full-well     Navy might control the ball for five minutes, he punted. Game over! (And I couldn’t even yell or scream because Al’s parents were sitting in front of me, so I went back to the corridor before losing it.)

 

When Steve Addazio wasn’t violently cursing at the kids, he just ran the football.  Fortunately for him, he inherited a massive offensive front line.

 

I remember walking out of the bowl game in Albuquerque, and being asked by a former Owl and NFL kicker what I thought.  I said this team should have had at least two more wins.

 

Matt Rhule was a fantastic administrative head coach and recruiter, and a lousy game-day coach.

 

How many times did we watch Matt call a timeout because he couldn’t decide on the play?  Then, after the timeout, run up the middle. 

 

What I’m trying to say is, I haven’t seen an imaginative, game day coach who possesses “magic” in  well, forever.  It’s not hard to identify the magic, you know it when you watch the game and see the continuous flow of the offense where play calls are unexpected, and keeps the defense on their heels.  Right now, Doug Pederson has magic.

 

So can Geoff Collins ever capture it?  Maybe!  Doug Pederson’s play calling after the first three games last year was lousy.  I’ve seen any number of coaches turn it around after they get a year under their belt.  Dave Patenaude’s last three games were head and shoulders above the beginning of the year.  If he’d just done that earlier, we’d have been fine. Maybe, just to please me, Dave will run one reverse, and one bootleg at the goal-line, each game.  And our defense will figure out how to rush four, play a five man zone across the field with two deep safeties on either side, for an end-of-the-game prevent.

 

Thanks for reading my stuff this season. Writing helped me sleep at night.  –  Fizz

Saturday: Bowl Scenarios

Monday: The Bowl Reality

 

Fizzy’s Corner: UCF Impressive

Editor’s Note: Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub checked in with these thoughts on the Central Florida game on 10:10 a.m. of Thanksgiving Day. After watching high school football, stopping off to get some turkey, we got home Thursday night and saw this always welcome contribution. We hope Fizz checks in on his thoughts after the Owls (hopefully) beat Tulsa.

By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub

 It was a pleasure to watch; the changing offensive sets, the motion drawing the defenders to where they were most vulnerable, the sequence of plays that made the defense think they knew what was coming, and the pass patterns of the receivers aimed at drawing attention away from an excellent running quarterback.  On defense, mostly everything was under control.  There was never any panic or broken assignments, and yardage was begrudgingly given up.  The pass defenders usually were looking at the QB when the ball was thrown, which resulted in four interceptions.  All-in-all, the best coached team I’ve seen all year, in person or on TV.

fizz

Of course, I’m talking about Central Florida and their coach Scott Frost, who will probably be making 5.5 million somewhere else next season.

On the Temple side, the score would have been closer had Frank Nutile not had the horrible day he did.  But Central Florida was one of the three teams I mentioned earlier in the season, that has more talent then we do.  Coupling that talent with outstanding coaching, made a formidable task.

A win next week gets us bowl eligible, for what that’s worth.  The best thing about playing a bowl game is it gives the team extra practice for next season.  It also gives us more TV exposure, which might help recruiting.  But not if we lay an egg like we did in the last two bowl games.

 HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE…

and may your bird be bigger than mine!

Tomorrow: Tulsa Preview

+

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

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