5 Questions Dr. Kraft Should Answer

Cherry and White Day is high noon on Saturday at the Edberg-Olson Complex.

The day means different things to many people, but mostly it is a gathering of fans and friends who have not had the opportunity to meet in months all over the shared passion that is Temple football.

It also has been another thing in recent years and that is running into people who are plugged into what the university is thinking, like Dr. Patrick Kraft, the athletic director, and DIck Englert, the school’s president.

Both are approachable and friendly and both TRY to answer fans’ questions honestly.

Cherry and White Day would be a good time to get answers from them, particularly Dr. Kraft, on these five questions:

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Why is C and W Still at the E-O?

With the opening of the sports complex four blocks south that includes a 2,000-seat soccer stadium, why cram 5,000 fans into a 500-seat hole anymore? South Florida has proved for the last two seasons that you can hold a spring game in a soccer facility and Temple should do the same. Two thousand seats plus the 500 portable seats the school brings to the E-O every year should make everyone comfortable. There is a field hockey game at 1 on the adjacent field but the soccer stadium is open. It should have been used this year and certainly should be used next season.

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How close are we to an announcement on the stadium?

We’ve been hearing behind the scenes that all systems are go on the new stadium, but there have been mixed messages. Moody Nolan, the architect, has been quoted as saying that the stadium is on hold. Is it? Or have the reassurances that everything is a go are meant to keep the private donations flowing? Why can’t the university set a date to make an announcement one way or another? It is time to bleep or get off the pot.

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What’s the holdup?

We’re aware that the city certainly is an obstacle, as are the 20 or so people from the community who seem to come out to Stadium Stompers’ meetings. Why hasn’t the school approached City Council with even an initial proposal?

When Will the Revolving Door Be Replaced?

The doors to the Edberg-Olson Complex seem to open in a normal fashion. You pull them open and hold them open for the women and the older fans to enter. Around the head coach’s office is a revolving door, and has been since 2010. What is the university doing to assure fans and recruits that the new coach they hire one year isn’t going to leave the next?

Was the subject of coaching stability ever brought up in the Geoff Collins’ interview?

Or was it conveniently ignored like the Elephant in the Room? Inquiring minds need to know and there would be no better day to know at least some of these things than Cherry and White Day.

Wednesday: 5 Football Things To Look For

Friday: What They Are Saying ….

Monday: Complete Cherry and White Review

QB Departure Might Offer Clue for Leader

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             Logan Marchi is getting more reps with the ones.

In a program as large as Temple’s, there are all sorts of comings and goings even in the best of times.

The Owls are the right fit for most, but they can’t be the right fit for everyone.

That’s why last week’s five-quarterback race is now down to a four-person one with the departure of Overbrook (N.J.’s) Tommy Wyatt.

Although there is no official depth chart, we’ve been told from reliable sources that Wyatt was the fifth quarterback. In a case like that, reading that handwriting on the wall is an important skill and Wyatt’s transfer to Rutgers probably was the best move for all parties.

Right now, the battle for the starting position seems to be between three players—Anthony Russo, Logan Marchi and Frank Nutile—and true freshman Todd Centeio probably could benefit from a redshirt year, which he is likely to get.

Although media members are allowed to only see the final 10 minutes of practice, leaks from others who do see the entire practice say that Marchi is getting most of the reps now. Unless that changes, he is on a straight-line path to be the starter at Notre Dame.

It might be reading too much into the situation, but that appears to be the direction Patenaude is headed this spring.

We won’t know for sure until Cherry and White Day, but my guess is that Marchi will be quarterbacking one team and Russo the other and, if one guy separates  himself that day, the sooner the starter will be named.

If it’s a photo finish, then the issue won’t be decided until the summer.

Friday: Cherry Flags

Monday: Red Flags

Wednesday: Playing Poker

 

Reddick Taking It To Another Level

Coach Collins is using Reddick as an example for the rest of the squad.

To put into perspective what Haason Reddick did over the weekend, all you have to do is look what running back Bernard Pierce did in the same environment.

Reddick’s most impressive combine number was a 4.52 40-yard dash.

Coming out of the 2011 football season a year early, Pierce went into the combine and posted a 4.55 40-yard dash. This was considered good for a running back.

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This was the same Bernard Pierce who was the PIAA state indoor champion in the 100-meter dash (10.8) while a senior at Glen Mills and was Pennsylvania’s version of Usain Bolt as a high school senior. Except that Bolt didn’t have Pierce’s moves in the open field.

Reddick took the combine to another level.

Reddick’s number was literally off the charts and that’s why he will be drafted anywhere from nine to 30 in the upcoming NFL draft in Philadelphia. His 40 time was one-tenth of a second faster than the Owls’ Nate Hairston, who many considered the fastest Owl last season. (You could probably get an argument from reserve wide receiver Cortrelle Simpson, who will hopefully show some explosiveness this fall when he gets on the field for the first time.)

My guess is that the number Reddick is drafted will be closer to 20 than nine or 30 and that will represent the best Temple has ever had if it happens.

Muhammad Wilkerson was a 30th-round draft pick out of the 2010 college football season and he is now considered one of the top five defensive linemen in all of football.

While offensive lineman Dion Dawkins got rave reviews coming out of the senior bowl and had a very good combine, there is more talk of him going in the second round than the first round now.

However, Mel Kiper still ranks Dawkins as his No. 1 SENIOR defensive tackle, so there’s an outside shot that Dawkins could go in the first round as well.

If that happens in a draft held in Philadelphia, that is a value from the Eagle-and-NFL-centric fourth largest market that would yield dividends down the line in areas like attendance and recruiting.

Friday: The Spring Game

Owl City Walkers

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Sometimes the memory can be a funny thing, brain teasers allowing recall in great detail of things that happen 40 years ago, but the same brain failing to tell you why you walked into a room five seconds ago.

It is with that in mind that we caution you to not take this list as the top walk-ons in Temple football history, just the top ones that we can recall at this moment.

Obviously, some are going to slip through the cracks but readers are welcome to include their own memories of Temple walk-ons below.

The subject of walk-ons comes up today simply because yesterday was the walk-on tryout date for Geoff Collins’ first team at Temple.

Here’s my list, with a heavy emphasis on the more recent ones. In a school of 39,000 students—presumably 20,000 young men—maybe at least one will turn out to be as good as these five.

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5–Matt Brown

Because of his size (5-5, 155 pounds), no Division I school showed an interest in Brown.  He walked on at Temple, where they tried to play him at a slot receiver, but Al Golden—perhaps intrigued by Brown’s open-field moves in the return game—moved him to tailback and the rest was history. He was the bug part of the “Bernie and the Bug” pair and had to fill as a starter on the numerous occasions where Bernard Pierce was injured.  Brown’s best game was his sophomore year against Army, where he gained 228 yards scored four touchdowns.

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4—Aaron Boumerhi

The kicker with the appropriate nickname of “Boom-Boom” walked on at Temple after making only four field goals his senior year at Phillipsburg-Osceola. He perhaps saved the season after starting kicker Austin Jones went down as a result of a cheap shot by a Memphis player on a kickoff.  At the time, Jones had made an NCAA-best 17-straight field goals.  Arguably, Boumerhi was just as good afterward.

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3—Will Hayes

Hayes returned a blocked extra point for two the other way and that was the key play in a 25-23 Temple win at Massachusetts.  The 5-9 defensive back drew interest only from Division III schools, but always dreamed of playing Division I. He took the advice of a former Howell (N.J.) teammate and played a year at Milford (N.Y.) Prep to bulk up for a possible chance.  He was a regular starting free safety on a 10-win Temple team.

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2—Bruce Francis

Francis joined the program as a true freshman in the fall of 2005 as a walk-on. He later earned a scholarship. Named the recipient of the team’s inaugural Gavin White, Jr., Walk-On Award in the spring of 2006, Francis earned All-MAC honors last fall by Phil Steele Publications after averaging a team-best 73.1 receiving yards per game and finished his senior year with 13 touchdown receptions.  He was the center of one of the most controversial plays in Temple history, with replays clearly showing him catching touchdown pass to beat UConn but the Big East replay official refusing to overturn the call. At the time, Temple was in the MAC and UConn was in the Big East. Francis is the Owls’ career leader in touchdown receptions (23) and tied with Gerald “Sweet Feet” Lucear in touchdown catches for a single season (13).

1—Haason Reddick

All indications point to Reddick being a late first-round NFL draft choice and it is pretty hard for any walk-on in Temple history to top that.  Reddick started as a linebacker in Temple’s 41-21 win at Memphis to close out the 2013 season, but later earned first-team All-AAC honors as a down defensive end.

 

Saturday: Fun With Graphics

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If anyone needs help to dress up his message, it’s Geoff Collins.

 

Four days ago Temple football made a little history by hiring college football’s first SWAG (Specialist With Advanced Graphics) and, if Geoff Collins’ handwritten slogans are any indicator, no one needs a SWAG more than Collins.

You can do a lot of fun things with graphics and no one is more perfect for that job than new coordinator Dave Gerson, who I have known since he was coming to Temple games as a pre-teen in the first year of the Al Golden Era. No one loves Temple football more than Dave and that love will translate into some fun times for Temple fans in the future. It even got a mention on ESPN. Until a five-star recruit has three hats on the table (Alabama, Ohio State and Temple) and puts on the Temple hat, it might be the last time Temple football gets mentioned on an ESPN crawl for anything but a score.

Golden was the first to realize that video was a good vehicle to promote the program and, in his first year, he hired a video coordinator named Fran Duffy (not to be confused with basketball coach Fran Dunphy). At the Owls’ first Golden football banquet, the coach introduced him this way: “Despite his age, he’s the best in the business.”

Golden must have been onto something because now Duffy is the Philadelphia Eagles’ video coordinator.

So it is in that spirit that we’re going to step away from the heavier topics like recruiting and coaching carousels and revolving doors and the viable long-term future of Temple football and provide some fun with graphics. So far, Gerson has just scratched the surface with some spruced-up slogans Collins thinks about at 3 in the morning and a couple of videos but the possibilities with images are endless.

In this case, images, the separated at birth ones.

Collins looks a little like Tony Soprano. There is even a parody twitter account dedicated to the resemblance.

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Former Owls’ linebacker Tyler Matakevich singer Ed Sheeran look like brothers (dirty red).

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Frequent Owl photographer Zamani Feelings and District Attorney Seth Williams have never been seen in the same room and that’s probably a good thing.

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If you have any more Temple-football related resemblances, be it a current or past player or coach looking like someone else in the public sphere, post them in the comment section below.

Monday: Back to Serious Business

The Schedule: You Never Know

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Getting Stony Brook on someone else’s schedule is a plus.

Watching some of the recent episodes of Saturday Night Live, I miss some of the old characters like the ones played by the late John Belushi and Gilda Radner. (It’s still pretty good and Melissa McCarthy hit a home run with her skit on Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer, but most of the skits are dribblers to second base, pop ups or strike outs.)

That’s not what it was like in the old days when Radner and Belushi were hitting home runs and guys like Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd and Billy Murray were routinely hitting doubles off the wall.

I thought about Gilda while thumbing down the recent release of the Temple 2017 schedule.

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I would like another one of these bad boys, but it’s going to be tough.

One of her catch phrases was: “You never know.”

Look at the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2006 season. Before that year even started, fans on every talk radio show penciled in the team as losing three December games, at the Redskins, at the Giants and at the Cowboys in consecutive weeks and the doom and gloom got worse when Donovan McNabb was lost for the season with a broken leg before those three games. His backup, Jeff Garcia, came in and beat the Skins (21-19), Giants (36-22) and Cowboys (24-7) to win the NFC East.

You never know.

This time a year ago, many Temple fans (not me) were saying that the losses of players like Tyler Matakevich, Matt Ioannidis, Robby Anderson and Tavon Young meant Temple would take a step back from a 10-4 season of 2015.

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I looked at a still-loaded roster and argued otherwise, that this was the “step forward” year and not the step back one. Since this year’s 10-4 included a championship, I was right.

You never know if I will be as right about this one but here it goes. I hope not to be as right about this season but I already knew about the teams Temple would play in 2017 and have always said this would be the “step back” year and not the step forward one.

It’s only a step, though. Owl fans can relax because we’re not falling into the mine shaft. Most Owl fans do not know how good Anthony Russo is. Having seen pretty much his entire high school career, I do and this how I will describe his upcoming Temple time: He won’t be as impressive as P.J. Walker was in his first season, but he will make you forget Walker in seasons two through four. (He’s not as elusive as Walker, but let’s not kid ourselves. P.J. was no Fran Tarkenton, Bobby Douglas or even Russell Wilson in the important skill of eluding pass rushers.)

So I stand by that prediction that it will be a slight step back, not a huge one.

I thought before Matt Rhule left that it would be a positive year for him to go 7-5 with a bowl win in 2017 and I think that is the measuring stick for new head coach Geoff Collins. If he goes 7-5, he’s just as good a coach as Rhule but I think there is a good chance he could go 8-4 or better. Listen, no one expects him to go 10-4 again and, if he does, Ed Foley is probably coaching Temple’s third-straight bowl loss.

The expectation here is eight wins and a bowl win and that’s in the “step-back” year because 2018 figures to be even better.

There is plenty of talent left on this team, even if you do not expect them to beat Notre Dame, Tulsa, Navy or South Florida. I’m not buying Houston. Wasn’t Temple the champion in the same league Houston could not win last  year? Didn’t Houston struggle on the road against teams like SMU, UConn and Navy in the last two years? Did not Temple win at all three of those places? I rest my case. Ryquell Armstead running behind the lead blocking of Nick Sharga with the explosive receivers Temple has is a good way to start. The defense should be outstanding once again. Any line that has Jacob Martin and Sharif Finch as the ends, and Karamo Dioubate, Michael Dogbe, Greg Webb and Freddy Booth-Lloyd in the middle with a secondary of Champ Chandler, Mike Jones, Delvon Randall and Artrel Foster will bring Mayhem.

The way Temple seasons have worked recently, though, is that they always have beaten someone you penciled them in for a loss before the season (i.e., Vanderbilt, 2014; Penn State 2015 and South Florida 2016) and always lost to someone you never expected them to lose to in the same season. Can we break that cycle this year?

I think so. Just hold serve.

If Collins holds serve, he will be our guy and probably hang around to coach the bowl win.

However, as Emily Latella would say: “You never know” but, gun to my head, I would pick eight over six or even seven and I will stand by that number.

(No posts Sunday or Tuesday due to minor surgery but God-willing will return Thursday)