There were at least a couple of times a first-year coaching staff was caught with its pants down a year ago at Temple University.
It wasn’t a pretty sight.
One of them came at East Carolina, running backs went down so fast that the Owls were down to moving their backup fullback—Nick Ritrovato—to tailback and he responded in a big way with 14 carries for 48 yards to close out a 34-10 win at ECU. Had the then walk-on not responded like a scholarship player, that game might have turned out differently. Nitro received his scholarship on Oct. 27th. The other time the Owls coaches got caught with their pants down was failing to identify that the gamer at quarterback was the backup, not the starter, for the first seven games.
In that instance, the season might have turned out differently.
For Temple to be successful this season, Nitro needs to move back to fullback and create holes for the tailbacks as a lead blocker to set up the play-action passing game for Frank Nutile. That’s Temple TUFF in a nutshell. Let’s hope Dave Patenaude can grasp that simple concept.
This year, the suspenders are tightened and the pants are mostly secure, but that does not mean the Owls have no immediate needs.
They can start with the areas they lost two players, a 6-foot-6 corner with speed in Derrick Thomas, who took his graduate transfer year and reunited with Matt Rhule at Baylor. The other was the unfortunate loss of David Hood at running back, who was told by the doctors that his last concussion was one too many. For what it’s worth, it would be useful as well to develop a backup plan at fullback should Nitro go down.
For Temple to be
successful this season,
Nitro needs to move back
to fullback and create holes
for the tailbacks as a lead
blocker to set up the
play-action passing game
for Frank Nutile.
That’s Temple TUFF in a nutshell
Thomas probably wasn’t going to beat out Linwood Crump Jr. at one corner position—he was behind him in the “above the line” area last year—and certainly wasn’t going to beat out FCS first-team All Big South corner Rock Ya-Sin at the other. Still, he would have provided a valuable insurance policy for the Owls at that position if attrition came into play.
At running back, Rock Armstead is primed for a Bernard Pierce-type season if he can stay healthy and Jager Gardner is back from his injury but the ranks are pretty thin behind that. Tyliek Raynor was a big-time recruit, and should be healthy but he is an unknown at this point. This looks like an area were one of the incoming true freshman, like Kyle Dobbins, will have an opportunity to make an impact.
The other areas—offensive and defensive lines—look like they are in good shape. Chris Wisehan, the offensive line coach, said the Owls interior three—two guards and center Matt Hennessey—were the best the team has had since he’s been here and he’s one of the few holdovers of the Rhule staff.
As loaded as the Owls are, cornerback and running back looks like the fastest way for the incoming freshmen to get on the field and it is vital for a couple of those to come through when their number is called.
Just like Nitro did.