Tyliek Raynor Another Home Run for Owls

http://www.hudl.com/v/DMRcG

Click on the above link and hit play. Unfortunately, there is not a single Youtube video on the internet of Tyliek. Hudl is a bad platform, but it’s the only one available.

By any measure, Temple football adding Tyliek Raynor is a home run for recruiting.

Since homer is a synonym for home run, the fact that Raynor is a homer himself had to help because, in his commitment statement, he said “I’m going to stay home and play for my city.”

If all great Philadelphia players felt the same way, that would have been Will Fuller catching the ball to beat Notre Dame on Halloween Night and not to beat his city. Maybe adding Anthony Russo begat Raynor and maybe Raynor will beget a player like Karamo Dioubate.

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Gratz’s Javon Whitfield can’t stop Imhotep’s Tyliek Raynor on his 58 yard TD run on the first play during the 1st quarter Friday night in North Philadelphia, September 4, 2015. ( Photo courtesy philly.com)

We can only hope. The protractor for recruiting starts in North Philly and a 500-mile circle around it includes 46 percent of the nation’s population. Temple is one of the few schools in the country squarely in the middle  of roughly half of the nation’s population.

With the addition of speedy running back Raynor, that was a good start. Raynor was No. 3 on our final five countdown list, behind only West Catholic defensive end Tymir Oliver and Prep Charter defensive lineman Dioubate. Raynor, who was offered by Temple on the spot after he ran a 4.3 at the Matt Rhule Football Camp in June of 2014, is very, very good.

How good?

Consider this: He could not play in seven games this year because of an injury that limited his effectiveness in other games, but his backup, Mike Waters, scored 44 touchdowns and was named Philadelphia Inquirer Player of the Year. That’s not just for Philadelphia, but for the entire Inquirer coverage area, which includes the entire Philadelphia suburbs, most of New Jersey and all of Delaware. He was also named Pennsylvania Player of the Year.

That’s pretty good. I saw a lot of Waters, including a performance for the ages in the Pennsylvania state championship game against Erie Cathedral Prep. This is what I tweeted out to my followers after that game.

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Much to my surprise, Waters saw the tweet and retweeted it to his followers. The bottom line is that if a great coach like Albie Crosby says Raynor is better than THAT kid, then Temple has something very special indeed. They will have the luxury of red-shirting Raynor.

The Owls will have to get Raynor healthy and keep him that way, but once he returns to 4.3, 4.4 speed, he gives them the kind of home run hitter they need. They have a home run hitter in Jahad Thomas and some fast backups in Jager Gardner and Ryquell Armstead, but neither Thomas, Gardner nor Armstead has a 4.3 40 in the books.

The clock never lies.

Add Snowmageddon To Temple’s Luck

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Being a Temple sports fan, I’m used to a number of odd things happening at strange times that seem to stunt the Owls’ growth in the two marquee sports.

Add this latest Snowmageddon Episode to Temple’s dumb luck.

Arguably, it is probably the biggest recruiting weekend of the season with Temple trying to close the deal on some high-profile football recruits and the forecast of a crippling blizzard cannot help things. Sure, once in a blue moon you will find a kid from Florida who loves the snow and thinks it is the greatest thing in the world and decides to commit on the spot.

Ninety-nine percent of the other people living on the planet do not think that way.

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It was a good idea in the first place because the Temple basketball team was going to host unbeaten AAC rival SMU on Saturday night in a game that figured to pack the Liacouras Center and show the recruits a packed house of spirited Temple fans. Now, that game is moved to Sunday and probably will not have nearly the same atmosphere.

Ironically, this snow is not going to be a good first  impression because it had not snowed all winter—not even a flake—and the winter had been relatively mild with quite a few 50- and 60-degree days. You can tell the recruits that all you want, but they see what they see.

Logistically, it is just not going to be a good thing. Even though the recruits will be on campus, other things are routinely planned on recruiting weekends that will just not go off—like trips to Lincoln Financial Field and Center City.

There is always the hope that things go well and the Owls pull in the haul they expected, but the snow will not be their friend this weekend.

In another development, Penn State–a place where it snows all the time–is hosting Temple recruit Dae’Lun Darien this weekend.

The forecast there is a coating to an inch.

Anthony Russo Commits To Temple

Ever since Doug Flutie enrolled at Boston College in January of 1981, Temple has been looking for its own Doug Flutie.

It may have found him shortly after lunch today.

Temple Football Forever has learned from very good sources that Archbishop Wood’s Anthony Russo had lunch with LSU today, chewed on the Tigers’ pitch and decided by dessert that he was going to become a Temple Owl.

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We have received two phone texts tonight from separate sources indicating this is true, including from someone whose “mom works with a friend of mine.” Since Anthony Russo was not taking interviews until further notice, figuring that he talks to his mother is not a huge leap of faith and would spill the beans to her.

This is huge for Temple University for a couple of reasons.

One, The Flutie Effect. Two, with P.J. Walker gone after next season, Temple needs a play-making quarterback.

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Just a couple of guys talking pro-set offense.

The Flutie Effect is signing a big-time kid from your own backyard could lead to a domino effect of other big-time kids from the same backyard. That leads to sustained success of the hometown team, which leads to a boom in student applications. In a 1984 game against the University of Miami, Flutie threw a last-second “Hail Mary” pass 48 yards that was miraculously caught for a game-winning touchdown—a climactic capper on one of the most exciting college football games ever. The play put BC on the map for college aspirants. In two years, applications had shot up 30 percent.

Russo’s program-defining pass is yet to come, but he is certainly capable of it. Temple has had a lot of good-to-great quarterbacks since Doug Flutie, including current starter P.J. Walker, the school’s all-time touchdown leader. Temple has never recruited the best high school quarterback coming out of the Philadelphia area. Even Haverford High’s Steve Joachim, who won the Maxwell Award as College Football Player of the Year in 1974, was never signed by Temple. He was a transfer from Penn State, where he started two games.

Russo changes that dynamic. He is an Elite 11 quarterback who has functional mobility, who would fit perfectly into the same Pro Set system new Owls’ offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas helped run with the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Ryan.

Ironically, Ryan who, like Russo, is from a Philadelphia high school league (Inter-Ac),  but went to Boston College. Even though Russo is from Warminster, he is Philly proud enough to say “I’m Anthony Russo from Philadelphia” in many of his interviews.

Now Anthony Russo will get a chance to put Temple and his home town on map. Even if they officially call the new on-campus stadium “The Apollo of Temple” maybe one day fans will unofficially refer to it as “the house Anthony Russo built.

Related:

Temple Should Look to Wood for Package Deal

Least Sexy Choice Gets Head (OC) Job

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“You really want me to waste 20 seconds on every  snap waiting for a play call?”

Say what you will about Matt Rhule, but he has been predictable in his three-year tenure as Temple’s head coach.

Ten days ago, we wrote that Glenn Thomas’ resume was the weakest of our five possible candidates for the open offensive coordinator job but “Matt Rhule has shown a propensity to hire from within” so that’s probably why Thomas was the leading candidate. In our caption we said he was the “least sexy” candidate so that’s “probably why he was going to get a bigger office.” Sure, he had been Matt Ryan’s quarterback coach but, prior to that, a stint at Midwestern State wasn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off.

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Sometimes, being right is a pretty hallow feeling and that’s the feeling I had this morning after hearing that Thomas was moved up to the OC job.  For all of the progress this offense had in the first 10 games of the season, it produced just 13 and 17 points in the two most important games at the end and probably could have used a different pair of eyeballs.

Unlike last year, this offense doesn’t need a complete overhaul, just some tweaking. Putting Jahad Thomas in the slot would be an explosive upgrade, as would giving Jager Gardner and Ryquell Armstead a real shot at the No. 1 tailback position. Those moves are a lot less likely to happen now.

After AAC championship loss, Zach Gelb was the only reporter in Houston with the gonads to ask the tough questions about the “dog stare” offense. The disgraceful time management when Temple fans were yelling “Hurry the F*ck Up!” from Philadelphia loud enough to be heard in Texas fell on deaf ears in the post-game presser. The answers from Rhule,  P.J. Walker, Marcus Satterfield and both Thomases (Glenn and Jahad) were that nothing went wrong. The answers seemed to be “something went wrong?” or “I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary” or the standard Sargent Schultz response: “I know nothing. I see nothing. I hear nothing.”

They had known no other way. A coordinator who had not been part of that fiasco might have been better able to map a new direction.

The Case for Mike Locksley

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Ten years of exemplary service at Maryland makes Mike a good fit here.

The  least popular individual on a football team when an offense is misfiring is usually the coordinator, so that’s why there were few tears shed on Sunday afternoon by Temple football fans when the news broke that Marcus Satterfield was leaving to take the head coaching job at Tennessee Tech.

After a 7-0 start, the Owls stumbled to a 3-4 finish and the fingers pointed directly to Satterfield, whose offense produced 17 and 13 points in the last two losses. Temple looked incapable of running a hurry-up offense in the AACchampionship loss to Houston, and Satterfield’s call of throwing into the end zone on third-and-3 with Temple down 24-13 and driving at the Cougar 38-yard-line with 7:18 left was widely second-guessed. That’s because the Cougars were giving Owls wide receiver Robby Anderson a 10-yard cushion at the line of scrimmage and a simple pitch and catch could have moved the sticks.

Satterfield bore the brunt of the blame but likely would have survived, because head coach Matt Rhule is widely considered “too nice a guy” to fire assistants. The process that Rhule likes to talk about broke down on one side of the ball late in the season and needs to be fixed.

Fortunately for Rhule, convergence of both time and circumstance has made a more qualified replacement available. Just last week new Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin said offensive coordinator and interim head coach Mike Locksley will not be retained. Unlike head coaching contracts, contracts for college assistants usually are not guaranteed meaning Locksley needs a job. Rhule so happens to have one available, and he should grab Locksley before someone else does. Locksley is a big believer in the play-action passing game Temple likes to run and has put up numbers using a similar system in the past. Locksley was OC for a Maryland team that averaged 28.5 points per game in its inaugural Big 10 season (2014), the most points the school was able to produce since 2010 (32.5). Locksley is also a top recruiter, at three schools — Maryland, Illinois and Florida. While at Florida, he engineered two top 10 recruiting classes in each of his two seasons as recruiting coordinator.

Locksley has plenty of recruiting contacts in an area where Temple usually recruits heavily called the DMV (Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia). The Owls could give Locksley the keys to both the offense and the DMV recruiting area and trust the process once again.

Tomorrow: A Recruiting Overview

The Real Reason for the Loss

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If you want to read a feel-good piece about what a great season this was and how we should all be happy about winning 10 games, please head somewhere else.

There is plenty of singing Kumbaya on social media and elsewhere. If you want to read the brutal truth, please proceed.

The brutal truth is that Tuesday night’s embarrassing loss to a MAC team—and it was an embarrassing loss—was not Matt Rhule’s fault, P.J. Walker’s fault or any of the kids’ faults. The fault squarely rests with the Temple administration, which should have never accepted this invitation in the first place.

Of course, we’ve been beating this drum since we heard the announcement (see yesterday’s post and two other posts linked below). My whole post yesterday was that Temple was walking into an ambush and, unfortunately, I was right.

There was no way Temple could match the emotional pitch Toledo was going to have coming into this one. No matter how much Temple could pretend Toledo was Auburn pretending is one thing and reality is another. Auburn is Auburn and Toledo is Toledo and never the twain shall meet, despite 6-6 and 9-2. Toledo had a coaching staff anxious to prove to its administration it made the right call. Temple’s coaching staff needed to prove nothing to its administration.

To Toledo’s players, Temple was Auburn and a step up. To Temple’s players, Toledo was just another MAC school, a directional equivalent of Western Michigan or Central Michigan or Northern Illinois. No matter how much you pretend, those facts cannot be changed.

That’s why Temple should have accepted the invitation that was on the table for Birmingham. There is no doubt on my mind that the Owls would have finished the season by beating Auburn in Birmingham. As you’ve read in this space the past week, there was plenty of doubt in my mind that they could beat Toledo.

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It wasn’t because Toledo was better, it wasn’t, but it was because of all the intangible edges Toledo had going into the game that was outlined in Tuesday’s post. Maybe next year, the Owls will do some homework on an opponent—if they earn the right to pick one—and do a little less snorkeling, beach volleyball or bowling. Invest that time in other pursuits, like better play calls in third-down situations.

A lot of Temple fans dropped a lot of coin going to Florida for this one. We hope that the good time they had made it all worthwhile. For me, I would have gone down there for one thing and one thing only—a win.

This should have been treated more like a business trip and less like a reward and, for that, you can lay all of the blame on Neil Theobald and Pat Kraft.

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Boca Raton Bowl: The Final Game Day

You won’t see much two-minute drill practice here.

Now we have arrived at the final “Leave No Doubt” Game Day and the kids who will be playing in it are safely tucked away in their beds, I have a confession to make: I do not have a good feeling about this game and I usually have a good feeling about every Temple football game.

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No predictions, but this has all of the makings of an ambush. Without a doubt, I feel Temple is the better team in this matchup with Toledo (7 p.m., ESPN) but we all know that the better team doesn’t always win. Just ask Alabama after its loss to Mississippi.

There are other factors, like psychological ones, that have to go into the equation. To me, Toledo sees Temple as a team from a better conference that it could make its season with a win against. I don’t think the feeling is reciprocal from Temple’s end. A lot of things have already made Temple’s season, like tying a school record for wins (10), an extended run in the national top 25, a win over a Power 5 in-state rival (Penn State) and an appearance in a league championship game. Toss in Game Day showing up,  the top TV-rated game of  the Saturday night season, which featured a close loss to a NY6 iconic team, Notre Dame, and you’ve crammed 134 years of Temple accomplishments into three months.

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Temple fans might not be biting their fingernails over this matchup, but some appear to be biting their lips.

Toledo had a short stay in the top 25, no parallel win over an in-state Power 5 rival (beating Ohio State would have been the Rockets equivalent), no school record for wins and no appearance in a league championship game.  No national  TV and no Lee Corso, either. To Toledo, Temple is big, bad Temple and, to Temple, Toledo is just a team from a conference the Owls used to play in before being “promoted.”

New Toledo coach Jason Candle will want to prove to his administration that their confidence in hiring an unproven assistant was well-founded. Temple coach Matt Rhule has nothing to prove to the Temple administration, which already has full confidence in him.

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Today’s Metro has caught Temple fever, something LaSalle grads and Philly.com writers Mike Sielski and David Murphy never will.

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Stir in the Temple season motto “Leave No Doubt” and there is some added doubt. That motto was born in a post-season meeting when the Owls were told they would not be awarded a bowl appearance despite being bowl eligible. Kenny Harper told his teammates to leave no doubt about a bowl invitation next year by their play on the field during the regular season. Harper forgot to make up a slogan for the team when it got to the bowl.

You have to wonder, at least subliminally, if the team is just satisfied by appearing in a bowl. One way to artificially change the mindset would be by, say, a surprise onsides’ kick on the opening kickoff that would say, “Hey, we’re here to win this.” That might get everybody pumped up. Passing out pickle juice in the heat might also help.

I just hope I’m being a worry wart and I’m as wrong as Donald Trump ends up being after his “facts” are checked.  Yeah, that might be it. We should find out long before the clock strikes midnight on this Cinderella season.

Tomorrow: Game Analysis