When Sixteen Is Anything But Sweet

Sixteen is usually a pretty sweet number, an indication that growing up is just around the corner, a time to get a driver’s permit or time for a great birthday party.

In football, the number 16 is anything but sweet because that’s the number, despite all of the offensive weapons Temple football has, that Logan Marchi has put up in each of the last two weeks as Temple’s quarterback.

It’s the quarterback’s job to turn the scoreboard into an adding machine and 16 points in each of the last two games does not cut it now and will not cut it going forward.

mattryan

Matt Rhule with Anthony Russo.

The audition is over. Logan Marchi is just OK in my opinion with a limited ceiling and we have seen that ceiling. It’s a 16-point ceiling with 48-point talent around him. It’s not getting any higher nor is he getting any taller.

It’s time for Anthony Russo to take over.

Russo, in my mind, is the perfect quarterback for this offense and he’s got a high ceiling.

He’s tall enough to see the field and has a big enough arm to make all of the throws.

marchi

Our post-game ND analysis called for a quick QB change should the Owls struggle to put points on the board against Nova. Freaking Lehigh put 35 points up on Nova. It’s the quarterback’s job to put points on the scoreboard.

One play stood out in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 16-13 win over Villanova with the Owls having a third-and-four. Logan Marchi stepped into the pocket and threw a pass that may or may not have been complete but we will never know because the pass was blocked at the line of scrimmage.

lesmiles

Les Miles with Anthony Russo.

That’s going to happen when you have a small guy with an average arm.

The Owls have NFL-quality wide receivers in Adonis Jennings, Ventell Bryant, Keith Kirkwood and  Isaiah Wright. They need someone who has a big arm, is tall and can make all of the throws.

Russo is that guy.

On the day Anthony Russo committed to Temple, he received a visit in the cafeteria at Archbishop Wood from then LSU head coach Les Miles. All Russo had to do was make an official visit to LSU and he would have a scholarship. Anthony, being a man of his word, said that he had given it to then head coach Matt Rhule. He previously de-committed from another Power 5 school, Rutgers, to play in his hometown. Coaches like Miles don’t hop on their private jet from Baton Rouge to fly to Warminster without wanting to close the deal. Miles, Matt Rhule and Rutgers all saw big-time in Russo. For some reason, maybe it’s because he’s Matt’s recruit, Collins does not want to give Russo a fair shot. At least that’s my opinion. I saw Russo play many times in big games. He’s fearless and he’s a winner.

Russo is a big-time quarterback, a state champion who tossed 35 touchdown passes in his senior year of high school. The Owls need a guy who can throw touchdown passes, and not just move the offense to get field goals.

They need to go to No. 15 to get over that 16-point ceiling they seem to be stuck on this season.

Or they can score 16 points against UMass and hope the defense delivers again.

To me, that’s a pretty sour option when they have a sweet arm on the bench.

The Owls should be turning these scoreboards into adding machines with that talent and 16 points in each of the first two games is squandering their weapons. The Owls have nothing to lose by giving a proven winner a shot.

Monday: Fizzy’s Corner

Tuesday: What Happened to Mayhem?

Thursday: UMass Preview

 

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MH55’s Message To Coach Collins

Coach Collins, this IS Nova after all

 

Upon arrival in town you did the perfunctory visits to our known cheesesteak venues, the Rocky steps, Indy Hall and all the rest. We welcome you to Philly. Now, don’t forget, you are part of the subset Temple Family. I respect Nova’s FB Program and accomplishments and I will be satisfied with a win. I wont judge your ability or the team’s skill set by a margin of victory. However, should the opportunity arise, please know Villanova has actively hindered Temple’s Athletic opportunities and have always relished opportunities to derail our goals.
Feel free to turn our superior athletes loose

 

Go Owls
MH55

Go Owls

bickering

Deep Six Above The Line

 

Zach Gelb goes on an epic and spot-on “above the line” rant. 

Usually, when you change something that has been considered, for want of a better phrase, “the standard” you have to have a pretty good reason.

 

Geoff Collins, the new Temple coach, is the only coach in the country to deep six the depth chart for a more vague rating of players called “above the line.” As it is, Temple is the only school not offering a depth chart for the press or television.

His logic is faulty. At least at Temple.

That logic has always been flawed at Temple.

“When players see themselves listed as a number two they play like a number two,” Collins said.

That might make sense in the SEC, but it has never made sense at Temple.

Look at the number of guys who weren’t even second on the depth chart who worked their way up and made huge impacts at Temple.

For the purposes of space here, we will just take five.

Haason Reddick was a walk-on who didn’t even earn a scholarship at Temple until his senior year, a fact that his father is still unhappy about. All he did was become a first-round draft pick in the NFL.

Matt Brown, who was a walk-on slot receiver from Peddie School (N.J.), became one of the greatest running backs in Temple history. His dynamic kickoff returns caused then head coach Al Golden to move him to running back, where he was even more explosive than wide receiver. He was part of Golden’s great “Bernie and the Bug” duo that took Temple from a 20-game losing streak two bowl games.

Mike Curcio, a walk-on linebacker for the 1979 team, became one of the greatest linebackers in Temple history and went on to a career in the NFL.

Nick Sharga, currently in Collins’ own words the “best fullback in the country” was also a walk-on, as was current scholarship kicker Aaron Boumerhi.

We haven’t even touched the surface of second-team Temple guys who eventually became first-teamers and went onto great college careers, but that list is a much longer one than that of the walk-ons, who’ve we’ve only scratched the surface so far. At Temple, guys who are on the second team work that much harder to make the first team and do not play like second teamers.

To me, the Collins’ logic is flawed and that’s one reason why this “above the line” depth chart is an idea that deserves to be crumpled up and thrown in the circular file.

Or at least come up with a reason that makes a modicum of sense.

Thursday: Throwback Thursday

 

Below The Line: Collins, Johnson

Here’s the good news coming out of Notre Dame’s 49-16 win over Temple on Saturday.

Geoff Collins is not going anywhere.


You can talk about SWAG all
you want and play the guitar
in practice, bring the kids
from the band and play drums
on the E-O field, but you clock
in for three hours every Saturday
and your job performance is determined
on that day only. You can talk about
how hard you work and how tough you
are and how much Mayhem you’ll bring,
but the scoreboard on Saturday
is the final arbiter.

Here’s the bad news.

Temple might not want him nor would it matter if they don’t.

Ask anyone who follows Temple football or basketball. They can get just enough scratch together to hire a coach, but they certainly do not have the money to eat these big contracts. So expect Cheesesteaks with the coach for a lot of Fridays going forward.

I did not expect Temple to win this game against Notre Dame, but I certainly expected the Owls to give a better effort, especially on defense. In my preseason prediction, I had the Owls losing this game, 17-13, not 49-16.

My reasoning was this team has a lot of good defensive linemen and an excellent secondary. I thought those were more than enough to offset a group of athletic, but inexperienced linebackers.

Here are five other things we learned:

toldyou

This Looks Like Steve Addazio 2.0 (so far)

Collins, like Daz, a coordinator from Florida, has done a lot of very Daz-like things so far and one was burning Aaron Boumerhi’s redshirt on the opening kickoff. Again, anyone following Temple football knows the Owls had a very good kicker, Brandon McManus, followed by a very bad kicker in Jim Cooper Jr. Getting another Aaron Boumerhi or Austin Jones is not a slam dunk and it would have been nice to have Boomer for the 2020 season. That is out the window. Also have to wonder on the hire of Taver Johnson as defensive coordinator. These players are too good to give up 49 points and 422 yards rushing to anyone. Johnson has never been a DC at the FBS level. Would have liked for him to have a track record somewhere else first. At least, Daz was smart enough to hire Chuck Heater and make him “head coach of the defense.”  Temple had back-to-back shutouts under Heater in 2011. It hasn’t accomplished that since. If this bleeding continues, Collins should have Heater on speed dial. If not, give up his job as coach of the fullbacks and become head coach and DC.

marchi

Marchi, Marchi, Marchi

I thought he did OK but what happened to this talk about all four quarterbacks playing? Did he do “OK enough” to not see another quarterback? No. They must not be enamored with Frankie Juice, either, to leave Logan in the game for four quarters. I think Marchi deserves the start against Villanova, but it’s the quarterback’s job to put points on the board in bunches so any series without points against that squad should mean the other guys get a chance and fast.  Anthony Russo is not a great practice quarterback, ala Vaughn Charlton, but he’s certainly a proven big-game quarterback in his high school past and he’s closer to Adam DiMichele in ability than Charlton. The other three guys are not. He deserves a chance to play in a real game if the Owls struggle to move the ball again.

Do the talking on the field

Any chance the Owls had of Notre Dame taking them lightly went out the window when two of those rookies, who shall remain nameless here, basically said the Owls were going to “kick Notre Dame’s ass.” That works only if you back it up. Collins should zip all pie holes going forward.

Temple summer practice, football,

What Could Have Been

Temple dropped two sure interceptions for touchdowns and, on the Mike Jones’ interception return, he EASILY could have scored had he waited for Sean Chandler to block the remaining fat and slow Notre Dame offensive lineman. Instead, he took a route to the sideline. All he had to do was cut it inside, where Chandler was setting up to block, and he would have had six. Also, Jacob Martin was held on one of Notre Dame’s touchdowns and the AAC refs did not catch it. Closer, but the way this defense was playing, it would have made the score window dressing. Say, 49-34, instead of 49-16.

Below The Line

You can talk about SWAG all you want and play the guitar in practice, bring the kids from the band and play drums on the E-O field, but you clock in for three hours every Saturday and your job performance is determined on that day only. You can talk about how hard you work and how tough you are and how much Mayhem you’ll bring, but the scoreboard on Saturday is the final arbiter. The offense scoring 16 points was not unexpected (we had them scoring 13 in a 17-13 loss). The defense failed to meet even minimum expectations and, for that, both Collins and Johnson fall below the line this week. Here’s the bottom line with this below the line grade. With a much worse group of players, Matt Rhule and Phil Snow went into Notre Dame and gave up just 28 points in a 2-10 year. Good coaches get the most out of their talent and Rhule and Snow did that day, but Collins and Johnson did not on this one.

Unfortunately, on this depth chart, there is no one above them. Right now, just a big blank space above a Cherry and White line.

Monday: A Former Temple Player’s Take on The Game

Tuesday: Above The Line

Thursday: Throwback Thursday

Double-Jointed

At least the quarterbacks are not being forced to play other positions.

If we take what Geoff Collins has said as Gospel so far, this season should be interesting.

Take a look at his views on “position flexibility” and depth charts.

One, he believes in; the other he doesn’t.

cropped-banner.jpg

Collins has so much position flexibility his roster is double-jointed. Wide receiver Keith Kirkwood has played defensive end, as has fullback Nick Sharga. Linebacker Shaun Bradley has played fullback. Wide receivers have played cornerback.

How much flexibility is too much, though?

To me, position flexibility has always been appealing only in certain areas. The offensive and defensive lines should be interchangeable due to depth concerns. Tackles should be able to play guard and guards tackle and there should be a number of guys able to go in if the center goes down.

Other parts of the field, though, and position flexibility gets you diminishing returns.

The NCAA gives you a finite time to practice and having definite units running plays and schemes has to have priority.

Whether this hurts or helps Temple is one of the things that will make this season interesting.

Another is the depth chart.

Collins doesn’t believe in them, only in a vague concept of “being above or below the line.” Above the line means that you will play and below it means you won’t.

Wonder how NBC-TV broadcasters will react when Collins says he can’t give them a depth chart. Walk into any TV booth, as I have done over the  years as a journalist and the two-deep is right there next to the microphone.

I do not know what an “above-the-line” depth chart looks like.

I guess we will find out soon enough.

Wednesday: Getting Their Kicks

Friday: Quarterback Battle Narrows

 

Cracker Jack Surprises

crackerjack

As a kid, one of the most popular snack food items was Cracker Jack.

It was OK tasting, but the real appeal was the prizes in the box.

You never knew what was going to be in the box, but it was usually something interesting like a bird whistle, a dancing skeleton or magic kit. Nothing elaborate, but something to pass the time.

Going into Costco the other day and seeing those boxes of Cracker Jack got me to thinking that this 2017 season will be like that snack. You know it’s going to be good, but you also know there will be a surprise or two along the way.

Hopefully, like the box, it will be an interesting one.

The assumption on the outside is that Temple will take a step back and probably cede the title to USF this season. I subscribe to the step back theory, not the ceding title one.

This year, Temple will not have to win 10 games to win the title; I think it could still win it winning as few as eight games and I think that’s a reasonable goal.

Another assumption from a personnel standpoint is that the loss of P.J. Walker will mean Temple takes a big hit at that position and that his successor will be a game manager, rather than a star.

That’s where the Cracker Jack surprise comes into play.

We don’t know if Geoff Collins is a great gameday coach or just another great assistant who rose to his highest level of competence. If he beats Notre Dame and pummels the crap out of Villanova, we will know our answer in the first two weeks. Same if he loses to both. Not so much with a split, though. Going 2-0 with a Mayhem defense that causes turnovers and puts quarterbacks on their asses with regularity would be the ticket.

I think the most interesting prize in the box could be the QB position, where any one of three quarterbacks–Anthony Russo, Frank Nutile or Logan Marchi–emerge.

Marchi has been referred to as a “Poor Man’s Johnny Manziel” without the off-the-field baggage. If he beats out the other two and wins the job, and has anywhere close to the rookie season Manziel had at Texas A&M, the Owls will be a national story. Same, too, for Russo, who is the most highly recruited Temple quarterback since Ron Dickerson grabbed Parade First-Team All-American Kevin Harvey out of Paulsboro. Harvey became a pretty good defensive back but never the QB many predicted he would become. If the Owls succeed with Russo at the helm, that could open a pipeline to local talent for years.

Plenty of surprises ahead in this box because we do not know what is inside. I can’t wait to unwrap it on 9/2/17.

Monday: Birthday Wishes

Wednesday: Krafting a Better Schedule

Sustainability

Pedersen

If Geoff Collins commits to Temple like Chris Pedersen did to BSU, that would stabilize things.

One of the side benefits of this Labor of Love called Temple Football Forever is reading some of the comments.

Generally speaking, the comments are a little more insightful here than they are on Philly.com or OwlsDaily or Owlscoop.
Maybe I’m just biased, but that’s the way I feel. I think part of the reason for this is that we discuss issues here related to the viability and sustainability of the program and do not generally delve into puff pieces on the players. The reason for that is simply that this site is dedicated to the long-term fans of the program. Players come and go, parents come and go and coaches come and go, but the fans are here forever. This site is for the fans of the program for the past 20 years or longer and hopefully for the fans of the team for the next 20 years. That’s why the future is such an important topic here.
Hence, Temple Football Forever.
A couple of recent ones knocked my socks off and pretty much explained where we are as a program and why we are there.
kjone

To me, there’s a fourth option here and that is to go the Boise State route and find an outstanding coach willing to put eight years in the program like Chris Pedersen was with BSU.  For awhile, Boise State had its pick between the old Big East and the Big 12. It picked the old Big East, but when the Big East became the AAC it opted out. For Temple to truly become the “Boise State of the East” it’s important that Temple become that wanted commodity. Is it realistic? Boise State is not the university Temple is in any non-football respect, so if the Broncos could do it there is no reason Temple cannot. For me, the way to do it is better vetting of future Temple coaches. I cannot believe that the subject of the coaching revolving door did not come up in the Geoff Collins’ vetting process, but apparently it did not. For that, shame on Pat Kraft and Dick Englert. It would be terrific if Collins himself says he wants to break the recent run of coaches who have left the kids holding the bag and stay here for a long time but I don’t see that happening, either. The closest thing he has come to saying that is that he “tells the kids we love them” every day. If you love them, tell them you will never leave them and keep the promise.

These kids have been burned by Al Golden, Steve Addazio and Matt Rhule. It would nice for them to not be shuffled from foster parent to foster parent every few years.

KJ is right, though, the current path is not sustainable because inevitably Temple is going to swing and miss on hiring a head coach and that is going to lead to three-win seasons. Even the best ADs don’t hit homers with head coaching hires all the time. Once you’ve teased the fans with success, they don’t want to slide back.

The other great comment was from JoninOhio here:

jontwo

Jon’s points are terrific, too. Temple always seems to be on the precipice of building a great fan base, but a loss to Army before 35,000 Temple fans last year was a blow from a fan standpoint the team never recovered. That happens every season Temple suffers a disappointing upset loss. Two steps forward, one step back.

This year that can all change. A win over Notre Dame would open some eyes and be a huge step forward toward sustainability.  Remove that revolving door in the coach’s office at the E-O on top of that and away we go.

Friday: A Cracker Jack Surprise