A lot of us have been holding our breath until our faces turned blue but that process ends today.
At least for me.
College football has changed a lot in the past three years, let alone past 20, but it’s pretty safe to say that the start of spring football practice has always been one of the five most important days of the year.
The others being, in no particular order, spring game, recruiting signing day, opening day and bowl game. (The Cherry and White game hasn’t been relevant for a couple of years but there was a time when it was huge on the Temple football calendar.)
Despite the shaky state of the program, we can now all breathe a sigh of relief.
At least we can assume that the guys who practiced today are all in and will be Temple football players this fall and that’s significant achievement in this day and age of the dreaded transfer portal.
My biggest breath was reserved for one guy who has been my favorite Temple football player over the last two years: Jadan Blue. (Even though you see some spellings as Jaden, the school’s official website has him listed as Jadan and we will go with that.)
He’s a game-changing type player who caught three touchdown passes in a competitive game against Memphis and probably will leave Temple with a lot of receiving records. If he gets double digits in terms of touchdown receptions for the 2021, he could be the next Owl drafted in the first round (hell, Jalen Reagor had only nine TD catches his senior year at TCU and got drafted in the first round).
He is the only Owl in the history of the school to catch 95 passes or post 1,000 yards or more in a single season. When you think players with the talent of Van Johnson, Leslie Shepard, Steve Watson, Randy Grossman, Robby Anderson, Rich Drayton, Keith Gloster, Willie Marshall or Bruce Francis never put up those kind of numbers, that’s saying a lot. Hell, Jim Callahan caught six touchdowns in a single game (and Francis five) but neither of those guys caught 95 balls or got 1,000 yards in a single year like Blue did in 2019.
Truthfully, I thought he was a goner to the portal but I’m glad he stayed.
If Temple is going to be competitive this fall–and that’s a big if–Blue will be a big part of it because he is in a receiving room that is, without question, the most talented room in the AAC. Randle Jones, on the other side, is a flat-out stud and Purdue transfer Amad Anderson is an accomplished and proven Big 10 receiver.
If Duece Mathis can get those guys the ball, Temple can turn the scoreboard into an adding machine at Lincoln Financial Field.
The problem is the other side of the ball. I don’t see the Owls getting enough pressure on the opposing quarterback to disrupt things on the defensive end nor do I see them being able to stop the run consistently enough.
They could lose a few games 39-38, 41-29 and 45-40. Or maybe win them that way.
That’s a problem, though for defensive coordinator Jeff Knowles and line coach Walter Stewart to solve. No amount of X’s and O’s can make up for the J and J’s (Jimmie and Joes).
In the meantime, we’ve gotten this far and enough of the “good guys” have stayed to at least make things interesting on one side of the ball.
The best of the good ones just might be Blue, which best describes the color of my face while holding my breath and hoping he would stay.
Friday: Loaves and Fishes
Monday: Keeping it Between the Boards