New Slogan: Mayhem Is Here

here

At this time a year ago, the slogan on the shirts at the Edberg-Olson Complex was “Mayhem is Coming.”

A year later on Cherry and White at a much better venue, The Temple Sports Complex, there were a few “Mayhem is Here” T-Shirts visible (although I could not find where to purchase one).

The change of slogans pretty much is an indication of how far we’ve come in expectations. I did not see much defensive Mayhem until the final game of the year, a 28-3 win over Florida International in the Gasparilla Bowl.

owlstudents

Let’s hope that it becomes the norm, not the exception, this year.

That’s the biggest difference this year could make in that a proven SEC coordinator has finally put his defense in place with the kind of talent that can get to the quarterback and cause significant disruptions at the point of attack. That’s my definition of Mayhem: Hitting the quarterback so much he either fumbles the ball or forces interceptions.

The other pieces to this puzzle seem to be fitting quite well.

jimnutile

Frank Nutile’s game is very similar to Jim Plunkett’s

Quarterback

At this time last year the Owls had four quarterbacks. As they say, when you have two quarterbacks you have none and four just doubles that equation. Now the Owls have one of the very few returning bowl-winning quarterbacks in Jim Plunkett clone Frank Nutile and have seen significant improvement from backup Anthony Russo. Toddy Centeio is the special packages (wildcat) quarterback and Trad Beatty could be the quarterback two years down the road if he’s redshirted. This position was a question mark last year and is now an exclamation point. The receivers are in good hands (pun intended) with holdovers Ventell Bryant and Isaiah Wright and newcomers Jadan Blue and Sean Ryan, among others.

Offensive Line

Owls’ coach Chris Wisenhan said that the three interior linemen anchored by Dave Rimington candidate Matt Hennessey could be the best in his five years at Temple. That’s saying a lot since Kyle Friend was a pretty good center and represents a significant upgrade from this time a year ago.

photoshopped

Running backs

Ryquell Armstead, who had 916 yards and 15 touchdowns two years ago, is back to full health after being banged up much of last year. He is being pushed by Jager Gardner, who was even worse banged up in that he had to take a redshirt year. Gardner, as a true freshman, set the Temple record for longest  run from scrimmage (a 94-yard touchdown against SMU). Considering that the Owls were down to using a fullback (Rob Ritrovato) at tailback due to injuries, the Owls are in a much-better spot.

Defensive Line

Another area of strength as Michael Dogbe earned a single digit and former Penn State commit Karamo Dioubate joins Dan Archibong and Temperor in Training Freddy Booth-Lloyd on a line that can cause Mayhem all by themselves. Dogbe, Dioubate and Archibong have position flexibility as tight ends but hopefully head coach Geoff Collins leaves those duties to Chris Myrick and Kenny Yoboah.

Linebackers

They looked young and lost last year but are the strength of the team led by Shaun Bradley and former St. Joseph’s Prep first-team All-Catholic Todd Jones.

All in all, what a difference a year makes with some additional help on the way in August.

Don’t order National Championship game tickets quite yet, but a Lincoln Financial Field AAC championship game is not out of the question.

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New Uniforms?

eastjumbo

These uniforms are probably the best ones featuring the Temple ‘][‘ on the helmet

In the grand scheme of things, uniforms rate somewhat behind coaching, talent, practice facilities, stadiums and fan bases in terms of importance.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t important at all because they are.

During one of the great Temple wins recently—an overtime win at UConn in 2012 that made the Owls 2-0 in a one-time BCS league—it was with great pride that I noted that the Owls did it wearing what I thought was their best uniform combination:

Cherry pants, white stripes, white jerseys, cherry helmets.slight

They played well and looked good.

It is against that backdrop that I cringed when I heard Temple was getting new uniforms by the end of this month.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

At Temple, it ain’t broke but fixing it could break it.

All over the NCAA, I see teams with awful-looking so-called “modern” uniforms—Maryland comes in the 2011 Temple game comes to mind here—getting their asses kicked by more traditional uniforms.

Temple’s uniforms have remained pretty much the same through the years.

When Al Golden got here, he eliminated the Temple ][ on the helmets for a very good reason because he felt the “football brand” at Temple when he played at Penn State represented toughness and that brand was having TEMPLE spelled out across the helmets.

NCAA FOOTBALL: OCT 31 Temple at Navy

That brand was created by Wayne Hardin in 1970.

“We want people to know who were are,” Hardin said. “We’re Temple. We’re spelling it on the helmets so they won’t forget who we are. There are plenty of schools that have T’s on the helmet but not many that spell the name.”

That brand continued until Jerry Berndt brought the T back because Penn, the Philadelphia team he formerly coached, had a P on it.

To me,  that wasn’t a very good reason.

Golden brought TEMPLE back on the helmet and that lasted until a bald-headed guy who shall remain nameless brought the T back. I’m OK with the ‘][‘ because it is the school brand but not OK with an entirely new look because it is supposed to be attractive to recruits.

Something tells me the new uniforms are going to be closer to a Maryland-type monstrosity—the Under Armour CEO is a Maryland grad—than a more traditional Temple look.

Whatever it is, if the word TEMPLE comes back on the helmet, that would be an acceptable step forward and a fitting tribute to the Hardin Era.

Monday: Spring Phenoms Old and New

Wednesday: The Scrimmage

Friday: 5 Things To Look For At Cherry and White

The Fun Starts When The Winning Begins

practice

There used to be an old Beach Boys’ song about a Thunderbird and one of the lines was:

“She had fun, fun, fun until her Daddy took the T-Bird Away.”

We don’t think that’s on Jeremiah Atoki’s play list today at Temple football practice, but it sums up a lot of what has been going on with Temple football the last two years and something we had not seen for the prior 100 or so years:

  • No depth charts
  • Plenty of swag
  • Endless search for Mayhem
  • Only scholarship D.J. in college football
  • Position flexibility

A lot those topics are all about injecting fun into college football for the other 104 scholarship athletes on the roster. If you do those things and lose, it’s called shtick.  If you do those things and win championships, it’s called innovation.

As a cub reporter for the Temple News, I had a sit down with then Temple football coach Wayne Hardin in his cramped McGonigle Hall office and asked him what was the most “fun” thing about being Temple football coach.

celebration
Winning at UConn on a last-second FG: Doesn’t get much more fun than this celebration

I’ll never forget his answer.

“To me, the only thing that’s fun is winning,” he said.

On his last day as a head coach, he mentioned to me he was quitting at the end of a mediocre 1982 season. Standing in a small room after the last game, I asked why.

“Mediocrity is not my cup of tea,” he said.

That was at what I thought was a pretty young and vital age of 55.


To me, a 7-6 record
is the very definition
of mediocre, bowl win
notwithstanding. Temple
is going to have to do
better this year for it
to be a successful season.
To me, Temple TUFF is
back-to-back 10-win seasons,
not finishing around the
middle of a 126-team FBS pack

Nobody won more and lost less as a Temple football coach, so I consider Hardin, not Geoff Collins, the expert here. I wish coach was alive today so I could ask him about the bullet points above, but he’s not and I don’t think he would look too kindly on the changes.

It wouldn’t have as much to do with being an old foogie as it would be a difference of philosophy on how to get to the end result.

To me, a 7-6 record is the very definition of mediocre, bowl win notwithstanding. Temple is going to have to do better this year for it to be a successful season. To me, Temple TUFF is back-to-back 10-win seasons, not finishing around the middle of a 126-team FBS pack.

Position flexibility is a great thing if you have a pass rusher like Romond Deloatch who also plays wide receiver. I did not see any of the pass-rushing attributes in Keith Kirkwood that I saw in Deloatch, so taking reps from Deloatch on the other side of the ball for the minimum snaps he gave the team as a DE last year was, in my mind, counterproductive.

Now we have the team’s best linebacker, Shaun Bradley, taking reps at a position where the Owls are deep—running back—and you have to question the process.

The Owls did not use Nick Sharga as a fullback last year nearly as much as they did in that championship season two years ago and, in retrospect, they probably should have used him at a position of need, linebacker, if the offensive staff felt he wasn’t going to get reps. Sharga was an impact player on defense at Army, and a forgotten man the rest of the season.

Whatever Collins decides to do is OK with me, as long as the bottom line is achieved—a championship.

If it doesn’t happen this season, his daddy (Pat Kraft) should take the T-Bird away and replace it with a whip. As coach Hardin says, the only fun in football is winning and that should be the eternal measuring stick.

Until proven otherwise, anything else is shtick.

Sunday: Done Deal Part II

Tuesday: The Rest of The Story

Thursday: New Uniforms?

Saturday: Spring Phenoms

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

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