Temple-ECU: Fork in the road

Adam DiMichele

If Adam DiMichele called the plays, Temple would beat ECU, 48-14; Patenaude evens the playing field or might even give ECU an advantage.

Back in the day, before the great Johnny Carson died in 2005, the former Tonight Show Host had a very funny bit introducing late night movies as a character named Art Fern with a pretty blonde sidekick.

Well into the skit, Carson would give directions to the auto dealership which sponsored the movies and include “Slawson Cutoff” and “Fork in the road” as the landmarks.

updated

Well, in this Temple football season, we’ve reached a Fork in the Road for the Owls (Saturday, noon, Lincoln Financial Field).

Make the right turn, beat ECU, and the road could lead to the AAC championship game at Lincoln Financial Field in December or, at worst, a seven- or eight-win regular season. Lose to ECU, and there is a brick wall at the wrong turn and maybe another win or two. Owls need this one as a confidence-builder after offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude single-handedly blew a potential win at Boston College last week by not utilizing the unstoppable Ryquell Armstead, his best offensive weapon, on third-and-two.

Way to take the game out of the kids’ hands, Dave.


The fact that offensive
coordinators with lesser
talent at Towson and
Stony Brook got more
production out of their
kids against Villanova
than Patenaude did with
FAR better talent
is truly sickening

Makes one think about the way things would be with the current QB coach, Adam DiMichele, in charge. DiMichele–way more than Patenaude–understands that this group was recruited to run the ball behind an elite tailback following a great blocking fullback with two tight ends to establish the run game and set up play action.

Patenaude thinks he’s still back at Coastal Carolina where he wants to spread the field. That’s Coastal Carolina Soft, not Temple TUFF.

This game is far too important for Patenaude to be messing around with his pass-first, second and last system. Run the damn ball and pass only on play-action.  Beat ECU and the Owls go 2-0 in the AAC and control their own fate.

That’s how important this game is.

Fans should not make the mistake that because the Owls won last year’s game, 34-10, the Owls will automatically win this one at home. Lincoln Financial Field has not been a home-field advantage for the Owls this season. Rather, a house of horrors, losing to an FCS team and a MAC team. That FCS team has subsequently lost to both Towson (45-38) and Stony Brook (29-27). That MAC team got destroyed by Army, 42-13.

Not a terrific endorsement for the Temple football coaching staff. Nice job by Patenaude putting up nine offensive points against Nova and 22 offensive points against the worst run defense in the FBS the last two seasons. The fact that offensive coordinators with lesser talent at Towson and Stony Brook got more production out of their kids against Villanova than Patenaude did with FAR better talent is truly sickening.

Now that staff is at a crossroads. ECU is a team with a Villanova moment of its own, losing to in-state FCS rival North Carolina AT&T in the opener. It also has a Power 5 moment, beating in-state rival North Carolina. The Tar Heels turned around and beat another Power 5 team, Pitt, which beat another Power 5 team, Georgia Tech.

ECU also beat Old Dominion, a team which beat Virginia Tech. This is a better squad than Villanova, Buffalo or Tulsa and the Owls better buckle their chinstraps and Collins better be prepared to overturn Patenaude’s play calls.

Temple’s Power 5 moment was a 35-14 win at Maryland, but the Owls staff did not take the day as a teaching moment because the H-back blocking look that opened running lanes for Ryquell Armstead and passing lanes for Anthony Russo has not been shown before or since.

That’s a good look for the Owls and the personnel groups they have on offense, but does this staff even realize it?

We should find out tomorrow at, say, 3:30 p.m. Based on the other two Saturdays at home, I’m more hopeful than optimistic.

Hopeful that Patenaude oversleeps and misses the team bus and Temple TUFF Adam DiMichele is forced to call the plays.

Otherwise, about 60,000 nails belonging to 20,000 people are in jeopardy of being bitten off.

Saturday: Our For Amusement Only Picks

Sunday: Game Analysis

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Heating Things Up: Hiring Adam DiMichele

Every once in a while, Temple coach Geoff Collins does something that makes you think he gets his surroundings.

Hiring Adam DiMichele certainly qualifies with one of those somethings.

DiMichele is now the “recruiting coordinator” and the 10th fulltime assistant as allowed by the NCAA as of last Tuesday.

Hey, he could have hired another Coastal Carolina guy.

DiMichele kicks McNabb's butt

Adam as a Philadelphia Eagle (hey, they still need a backup to Sudfeld)

I’m not so provincial that I believe Collins should hire all Temple guys to coach at Temple but, with Adam, I’ve got a soft spot.

Including P.J. Walker, Steve Joachim, Matty Baker, Tim Riordan, Henry Burris and Lee Saltz, Adam DiMichele is my favorite Temple quarterback of all time.

Notice I wrote “favorite” and not “best.”

Favorite is because he was the conduit between a lot of bad years and a lot of good ones.

Sitting at Franklin Field right behind the late, great Peter “Doc” Chodoff watching Temple get waxed during the Dark Ages that culminated in a 20-game losing streak, Doc turned to me and said, “Mike, why does every other team have a better quarterback than Temple?”

“I’ve always said the same thing. Seems like it’s been that way forever, Doc. I don’t know.”
Doc Chodoff got a field named after him a few years later, right around the time  I got my quarterback who was better than the bad guy’s quarterback.

His name was Adam DiMichele.

DiMichele was the bridge between the 20-game losing streak and what Temple football is today. Had not Buffalo completed an inexplicable “Hail Mary” pass, he would have led the Owls to a bowl game in 2008.

Had not Joe Paterno denied him a transfer waiver, DiMichele—not Chester Stewart nor Vaughn Charlton—would have been the quarterback in the 2009 Eagle Bank Bowl and there is no doubt in my mind he would be the difference.

DiMichele was part of a lot of great plays while at Temple, my favorite being the “fake knee down” against Navy in the 2008 season. Temple looked like it was going to run out the clock but DiMichele feigned the knee and pulled it up just before it hit the ground and found Bruce Francis 30 yards behind the nearest defensive back. Francis walked in but the Owls lost that game, 33-27, in overtime. The year prior, DiMichele flipped the ball back to D’yonne Crudup on a double-reverse and Crudup tried to hit him in the end zone for a game-winning TD against UConn, but DiMichele tipped the ball to Francis, who caught it but it was ruled a non-catch.

DiMichele was always the quarterback of a fullback-oriented offense that head coach Al Golden and offensive coordinator George DeLeone believed in and was the beneficiary of a strong running game that set up great play-action passing. Hopefully, Adam will have enough influence on Dave Patenaude to go away from Coastal Carolina Soft back to Temple TUFF. If anyone can convince Patenaude to put Nitro back there leading the way for Rock and David Hood, it’s Adam DiMichele.

More than that, though, he’s got to convince Collins and, by getting hired, he’s at least halfway there.

Monday: The 2018 Power 5 Opponents

Best QB Prospect in Pa.? He’s Going to Play in Philly

A great quarterback prospect is like the famous Potter Stewart quote about pornography: “It’s hard to define, but I know it when I see it” he said in the case of Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964.

The Supreme Court Justice went to Yale, so he was around when Brian Dowling was throwing around the pigskin for the Bulldogs. Being a smart man, he probably also know great quarterbacking when he sees it. So do most of us. I knew Adam DiMichele had “it” the first game I saw him in a Temple uniform. I also knew whatever Chester Stewart had wasn’t it in his first game, a 7-3 loss to Western Michigan on a dreadful day at Lincoln Financial Field.

Ben DiNucci after winning WPIAL Class AAAA championship for Pine-Richland.

Ben DiNucci after winning WPIAL Class AAAA championship for Pine-Richland.

Trust me on this one: Pine-Richland’s Ben DiNucci has “it.” He will go down as the most productive quarterback of the next four years on the college level Pennsylvania, too, including whomever Temple, Pitt or Penn State recruit. The 6-3, 190-pound Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year became the first Pennsylvania player to throw for more than 4,000 yards, setting a PIAA record for single-season passing with 4,269. DiNucci was 32 of 46 for 383 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-41 loss to St. Joseph’s Prep in the Class AAAA title game Saturday night. DiNucci also set a PIAA playoff record with his 32 completions and a championship game record with 383 yards passing. His four touchdown passes tied Berwick’s Ron Powlus (1992) for the most in a championship game.

More than all of those records, though, he possesses the elusive “it” factor in quarterbacks that make or break coaches. Forget that he wasn’t offered by the big schools. Big schools often miss big players. Ask Marty Ginestra. Or Henry Burris. Or Brian Broomell. Or Matty Baker. Or Tim Riordan. DiNucci falls into the category of a very good quarterback who can be very productive for Temple.

Some people have a better “it” radar than others. Al Golden’s Achilles’ heel was not having a good quarterback GPS installed (he inherited ADM from Bobby Wallace). To borrow a Potter (not Chester)  Stewart term, the jury is still out on Matt Rhule’s quarterback radar.

Trust me with this one, though: Ben DiNucci will be a great college quarterback at any level and the good news that he has chosen to play his college football in Philadelphia. The bad news is that it will be at Penn.

DiMichele currently is spending the weekend recruiting in the Pittsburgh area. If he’s smart, he would swing by Pine-Richland to investigate the level of interest DiNucci has playing the game at its highest level in the same city for Temple. If Temple is smart, it would offer him a scholarship now.