How Do You Lose? Let’s Count The Ways

Ample evidence in this film to make P.J. a full-time rollout passer as we’ve been saying all year.

Up 13-0, you’ve got to win the game.

So, how do you not?

Let’s count the ways.

The first and most important is that you cannot come up with empty possessions. An empty possession is one without a field goal or a touchdown and, after 13-squat, the Owls came up with seven empty possessions.

Watching on TV, it only seemed like 70.

Phillip Walker had a career night with over 400 yards worth of passing, but most of those 400 yards were needed with a 13-0 lead and the Owls were way too comfortable walking off the field as it went to 13-3 and 13-6.


For the Wildcat to work, got to throw off it from time to time.

There has got to be a greater sense of urgency at 13-0 than there was Thursday night.

The body language was “la-dee-da, we’ll get them next time” but, in big-time college football, there is no next time.

The sad truth is that there will be no AAC championship for the Owls this season and it was left on a football field in Memphis when the score was 13-0. They had a chance to put the hammer down and make it 20-0 and 27-0, but refused to see how important that was.

You can talk all you want about a kickoff return for a touchdown or two long touchdown runs before that, and even the two missed field goals from a guy who had hit 17 in a row (I know, the announcers should have never mentioned that), but this game, this night, was lost when it was 13-0.

The Temple coaches were far too comfortable is “managing” the game at 13-0 rather than putting it away when the pedal needed to be put to the medal. Nick Sharga and Brian Carter, two standouts in their limited time on defense stopping the run up the middle, were nowhere to be found and the Owls were gouged up the middle late without them. Does this coaching staff even know they are on the team? From the 120 yards in penalties at Penn State to the horrific defensive game plan against Army’s triple option, to the lack of killer instinct at Memphis, one thing is clear about this 2016 version of the Temple Owls.

This is a poorly-coached football team. How does Memphis hire a 34-year-old guy with no head coaching experience who goes 4-1 when the same guy Temple hired in his first year went 2-10? You thought Memphis would have the coaching growing pains, not Temple. Turned out the opposite was the case.  The Wildcat Offense is an absolute joke when you have someone running it who has not demonstrated he can complete a pass out of it. What do you think the scouting report for Temple is when Isaiah Wright comes into the game? That he’s going to throw the ball? They just load up on the run.

Late in this one, I thought the law of averages would catch up to Temple and the Owls would be the ones benefitting from a Hail Mary pass instead of the ones suffering from it (Fordham, Buffalo, UCF). Instead, this game was lost long before then when the game was sitting on what turned out to be unlucky 13.

Now the only thing left is to figure out what crummy bowl game the Owls will be sent to, if indeed they are that lucky.


Even before the game, not a whole lot of belief in Temple anymore (Sad).

Sunday: Catching Up With Greatness

Long Day, Short Week

Love the acceleration of Ryquell Armstead on that last score.

If a team could feel a tinge of sadness coming off a 45-20 win, there is no blaming the Temple Owls after that score was completed at the end of a long day on Saturday afternoon.

Just before the game, it was learned that star safety and kick returner Sean Chandler could be lost for the season with a knee injury sustained in practice and that backup defensive linemen Julian Taylor and Sharif Finch are definitely done for the season.

Fortunately, Matt Rhule called this version of the Owls the “deepest and most talented team I’ve ever coached”  (even after the Army debacle) and we will learn shortly if that is true because Saturday’s long day will be followed by a short week.


Nate L. Smith

There are signs, though, that Rhule could be onto something here because Chandler was replaced by a player we feel has been underappreciated in his four years at Temple, safety Nate L. Smith. All Smith did was pick up an interception and add seven tackles. If Smith is indeed The Guy in the middle of the field, nothing he did on Saturday indicates there will be a significant drop off in play.

Smith is one of those guys who all he does is make plays and that has held true for the few times he has gotten into games over the last four years.

The same could be said of Finch, with his five blocked kicks and his spectacular near-pick 6 of Christian Hackenberg last year. Still, for all of the Finch plays, he was a backup to both Praise Martin-0quike and Haason Reddick at defensive end this year.

So the bad news might not be so bad and the good news is that the Owls’ offense is now showing signs of being the dominant unit. Phillip Walker is going to have to stop throwing interceptions, because SMU’s pick 6 was the only thing keeping this from being a 45-13 final.

There is much talk on social media about the poor crowd, but we told you here in writing what was going to happen in this post entitled “Unintended Consequences” after the Army loss. It was plain to see then and there is no surprise it is happening now. There is going to be no crowd redemption this season and that is the fault of the coaches who had eight months to prepare for that triple option. The Owls had a legitimate crowd of 34,005 on opening night and pretty much said goodbye to that kind of crowd with that loss. When Buffalo gets the job done that Temple should have, it gives those casual/fringe/lazy/softcore fans pause. We hardcores, the 20,000, will always be here. To use a double Biblical analogy, it’s the Prodigal Son fans who are the Doubting Thomases (not Glenn or Jahad).  They need to be wooed by early wins. That’s the way it’s always been at Temple and that’s the way it always will be.

For now, though, the emphasis will be on getting the most out of this season and, despite the injuries, there is some promise for better times ahead. Memphis, the Thursday night opponent, will be a sterner test than SMU, so we should know more in five nights.

Monday: The Best Images From Saturday

Sound Bites or Empty Words?

Not thrilled about the players talking about those other games as not counting.

Our only post-debate reference of the evening refers to the Donald Trump statement about Hillary Clinton’s “empty words” and “sound bites.”

By no means are we taking sides in this particularly onerous election, but the phrases reminded me of Temple football’s AAC opener on Saturday afternoon (noon) against visiting SMU.

That’s because if the words “Temple TUFF” are something other than empty words or sound bites, we should be able to discern that by 3:04 p.m. tomorrow. For the past 365 days, we’ve seen videos of Owls in the weight room, Owls doing sprints on the snow in February, even Owls toasting marshmallows in the Poconos.


                       Romond Deloatch

All of this physical and mental bonding was supposed to make the Owls “Temple TUFF” which is to imply that the Owls are tougher than their AAC foes and that, by taking things into the fourth quarter, that toughness is the difference between victory and defeat.

The Owls are a little less than two-touchdown favorites and should take care of business in workmanlike fashion on Saturday. We also thought that on opening night and we were, if not shocked, surprised that things went the other way.


                                   Bulk of the rain should be gone by start of tailgate and remain that way throughout the day. Don’t be fooled by the high of 71. I froze wearing my Eagle Bank Bowl T-shirt even though last week’s high was predicted as 76.

As I see it, this team is tough enough but doesn’t play smart enough. When you lose the cerebral game, that usually falls back onto the coaches. In my mind, this team should have beaten Army and Penn State and because of a flawed game plan (Army) and some undisciplined play (Penn State), they have two losses.

The trouble aspect is that players have been quoted as saying that those games are practice games or, as one player said, tune-up games, and did not count. In college football, where you have only 12 games to show people how good you are, every game counts. It took the Owls four games to figure out that Romond Deloatch is their best rush end, but that’s something that should have been figured out by Cherry and White Day, not as the result of a sack in the fourth game of the season. Hopefully, the coaches have figured out that Nick Sharga and Brian Carter would be more helpful as full-time defensive players than part-time offenders. Maybe that will take until the sixth game of the season but, geez, we hope not.

While it would be nice to see TEMPLE SMART for a change, a heavy dose of TEMPLE TUFF should be able to get this job done.

Otherwise, Temple TUFF is nothing more than a couple of empty words or a nice soundbite.

Tomorrow Night: Game Analysis

Immediate Help Is On The Way


Every so often, something happens in the offseason that leads to immediate help during the season.

Montel Harris, the running back Steve Addazio was able to lure from, of all places, Boston College, fit into that category. Vince Picozzi might be the latest.

Picozzi, a 6-4, 270-pound offensive guard (and also defensive tackle), from Lansdale Catholic is intriguing because, although overlooked in recruiting season, dominated games in the Philadelphia Catholic League. That league is about as good as it gets from a competition standpoint in the state, and probably the country as well.

For Temple to add a guy like this so late in the recruiting process, and for him to be eligible to play in this coming fall, is a real coup. Give me a high-achieving guy in the Philly Catholic League over a four-star in a weak league any day.

Picozzi reminds me a little of Kyle Friend, who became an immediate starter as a true freshman despite coming to Temple largely unheralded out of Central Pennsylvania. He seems to have all of the attributes needed to compete on an offensive line that could use some help, even if he doesn’t earn an immediate starting berth.

Picozzi got some great reviews here in this story by Rick O’Brien of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He strikes me as a guy who is ready-made to play and could easily transition into being Temple-Made.

Tomorrow: TFF Goes On 10-Day Summer Hiatus

(back Monday, July 11)

If Only Football Could Have This Day




Today is the best day of the sports calendar and it’s not because of St. Patrick’s Day, although it happens to fall on that day this year.

To me, while I’ve always been more of a fan of NCAA football than NCAA basketball, I have to admire what that sport has done to captivate the national sports public for a whole month. Today is the one day of the year when your favorite basketball team has a chance, no matter how small, of winning it all. In basketball, with runs by teams like Butler, George Mason and LaSalle in recent years, that kind of hope exists.

It would be nice if football had the same thing.

Football can never duplicate that because it does not want to but, just once, I’d like to see them try. It’s gotten far too complicated with far-flung conferences that make zero geographical sense, but this is how it can be done.

1) Have a 64-team field

Base the seeding on the regular-season outcome so, say, Alabama opens at home with Idaho. Before you say it would be a bloodbath, check out some of the teams Alabama played in its non-conference schedule over the last five years.

2) Play a Limited Regular Season Schedule

Determine how many weekends a regular-season would take, with byes, then base the post-season off of it. If it’s an eight-game season, the 2015 Temple Owls would have had a high seed based on a 7-1 record that included a four-point loss to the then No. 9 team.  Maintain current rivalries, like Ohio State-Michigan, Army-Navy, Alabama-Auburn, Texas-Oklahoma, but ditch the Stony Brook-Temple and Rutgers-Howard type games, which really clog up the college football season and nobody really wants to see.

3) Create November-Dec. Madness

Pair the field down to 32 after the first week of the playoffs, 16 the third, eight the fourth and four the fifth. Hold the Final Four in January. No byes.

4) Wake Up

It was a good dream while it lasted but face facts. We college football fans will never have what college basketball fans have this one day of the year—the audacity of hope, and that’s a powerful drug.

At least we will always have tailgating.


There’s No Doubting Thomas


Glenn Thomas has been a positive influence on P.J. Walker.

When the Temple offensive coordinator position opened up, we put together a wish list of five potential candidates for the job, listed the pros and cons, but came to the conclusion that Matt Rhule will hire “the least sexy” person for the job, Glenn Thomas.

Now, sexy in football and sexy in real life are two different things. To me, Mike Locksley would have been football sexy because he would have locked up the recruiting in DMV (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) and had Power 5 OC experience.


The goal should be getting P.J.’s QB rating over 150.8.

Sometimes, though, least sexy is good when you want to get things done. (I learned that watching Sheena Parveen doing the Tornado Watch last week when I listened to the entire forecast but realized afterward that I didn’t really hear anything because I was so distracted.)  Things were not perfect–down 11 in the fourth quarter there has to be an alternative to wasting 20 seconds looking to the sideline for a play–but there was an undeniable upward trend in 2015.


The forecast for the TU offense is bright and sunny.

Thomas has the potential of getting things done, especially with the arrival of recruit Anthony Russo. Thomas was Matty Ryan’s quarterback coach with the Atlanta Falcons and Russo’s game is so much reminiscent of Ryan’s that guru Trent Dilfer ended up calling Russo “Ryan Russo” for a day at his Elite 11 camp.

First things first, though, and that is the continued progress in P.J. Walker’s game. For Walker not to be known as a guy who peaked as a freshman, he must slightly improve his numbers in his final year of 2016. Thomas, at least, has him pointed in the right direction. As a freshman, Walker had 20 touchdown throws against only eight interceptions. In Marcus Satterfield’s ill-advised spread formation in 2014 (when Walker got zero protection in the pocket), Walker fell to 13 touchdowns vs. 15 interceptions.  A new scheme that featured a fullback and two tight ends—ostensibly  two additional blockers for Walker—enabled P.J. to see the field better last year and go 19-8.

Ideally, against this schedule, you’d like those numbers to be around 25 and eight (or less) for 2016. If that happens, another double-digit winning season is in sight and that’s about as sexy as things get for Temple football fans.

Unless, of course, Sheena Parveen comes on the Jumbotron instead of Hurricane Schwartz.

Monday: The Case For An Exciting Name As New Slot Receiver

Tyliek Raynor Another Home Run for Owls

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.


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

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.



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.