The Case for A 5-2 Defense At Temple


A possible two-deep using a 5-2 alignment

Some people wonder what football coaches do at this time of year, the few days after signing day and the few days before spring camp begins.

While the players do some conditioning drills outside and some weightlifting inside, the really good staffs are inside trying to figure out how to best utilize the talent that is available on the team. That was shown a year ago when Temple head coach Matt Rhule was reviewing film of a loss at Houston, saw his former offensive coordinator line up with five wides on a first and goal at the 1 and said he got physically ill watching that alignment. After a visit to the porcelain throne, Rhule scraped the Satterfield offense and went with his own.

“Give me a great
wrestler as a nose
guard and I will
show you a guy
who is going to
blow up the center
every time”
_ Vince Hoch
former TU DC

The result was a new offensive philosophy built around the talent at hand, a mix that (largely) saw two tight ends, a fullback and a heavy dose of play-action in the passing game. The result was a tie for the most points ever scored by a Temple offense and a 30 percent improvement in third-down efficiency.

That’s using your head for more than a hat rack.

Conversely, with the collection of depth and new high-end talent coming in, a strong case can be made for a 5-2 defense. With the number of quality linemen the Owls have on that side of the ball, they can cause havoc in opposing backfields by blowing up the point of attack with five guys across the front, instead of four. Imagine speedy defensive ends like Sharif Finch and Haason Reddick containing mobile quarterbacks when interior linemen like Karamo Dioubate and Greg Webb are on each side of nose guard Averee Robinson, a two-time Pennsylvania State Class AAAA (large school) heavyweight wrestling champion at Susquehanna Township. Former Temple defensive coordinator Vince Hoch was fond of saying “give me a great wrestler as a nose guard and I will show you a guy who is going to blow up the center every time.” Robinson has that kind of gap leverage potential as a nose guard. Like his brother, Adrian, he is playing out of position at Temple. Adrian was a natural OLB, his future position in the NFL, who was forced into DE duty as an Owl. Averee’s future is as a nose guard at the next level, whether it is the NFL or Canada.

I like the two linebackers for a couple of reasons. In Avery Williams (2) and Stephaun Marshall (6), you have two proven single-digit tough guys to carry the linebacker load. If I’m only going to use two LBs, I’m comforted by the fact that they are among the nine toughest guys on the team already. Then I can still use another proven tough guy, Nick Sharga (4), in the same role he had last year (roughly 10-15 plays on offense and 10-15 plays on defense as a backup LB).

There is experience all over the place with this defense, and a couple of big-time playmakers coming in to flank Robinson in Greg Webb and Karamo Dioubate. With Robinson blowing up the center, and Dioubate and Webb during their thing, these mobile quarterbacks are hit as soon as (or right after) they get the snap and do not get a chance to turn a corner or build up a head of steam.

Robinson and Freddy Booth-Lloyd playing nose guard could just be the disruption along the DL the Owls need to stop those mobile quarterbacks. The experiment is worth a try in spring practice.


20 thoughts on “The Case for A 5-2 Defense At Temple

  1. Mike, you know I don’t know a lot about the X’s and O’s of football (although I have learned much by reading your blog), but it must have some disadvantages or more teams would play it. Is it all about having a particular group of talents on the defensive side of the ball that makes it work? If we had a different group of talents on defense would it be better to us a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive alignment?

    • It’s weakness is on pass coverage because of the extra lineman. It can be mitigated by having a hybrid d-end on the weak side who both can rush and cover receivers. That works if you are playing zone though not man to man.

      • I think it’s all about playing to the talent you have, and not making the talent play to a specific system or process. I think Finch can be that hybrid d-end. He has a knack for laying back and playing possum in pass coverage and fooling quartebacks into throwing balls he can break on ..

  2. wouldn’t the wide receiver screen pass destroy this sort of defense? Maybe its a good base, but with the spread offenses we see lately stacking the box can only get you so far.

    • Not really, because it is an attacking defense designed to put so much pressure on the qb he doesn’t have time to get the ball outside. still, you have two pretty good corners in chandler and ali and two good safeties in randall and smith. the key is having a nose guard who can blow up the center and the Owls have two in robinson and booth-lloyd. when the center is blown up, the qb decision making time is limited to almost none. with colleges recruiting tackle types, Temple has an advantage in robinson’s and FBL’s unique nose guard skills.

  3. You can run it in spots, but as an overall “this is what we do” the spreads will rip it apart. When the ball is out of the QB’s hand in 1.5 seconds blowing up the LOS is less important.

    If we’re playing a run based offense or maybe a pro style, sure, it can work.

  4. news flash.., saw another rendering of the stadium last night, really nice and much better than the one previously posted, orientation is North/South with an open end, lawn, etc on the South side.., 35K and the architect should be announced in a few weeks or so…, intent is to play all home games in Temple stadium and avoid the Linc … looking at opening the 2018 season in the new stadium…, one level, plus a suite level…,

    also heard something intriguing, what if the Big 12 decided to expand by four teams? The thought had never occurred to me but that is a possibility, and Temple would have a great shot if the league expanded by four teams..,

    AAC and Big 10 expansion is 5-10 years away…,

    • that’s the argument I keep telling a growing segment of TU fans who say “let”s wait for the ACC.” The ACC is just not looking to expand. Maybe in 10 years, yes. If Temple gets any P5 invite, it has got to jump because soon the window to jump from G5 to P5 will be closed. When the ACC looks to expand, it could very well be looking only at other P5 teams. Temple better be one by then.

  5. also heard that P5 schools are beginning to adopt an informal policy of no OOC away games vs non-P5 schools.., the gap between the G5 and P5 is getting larger not smaller

    • After last season I don’t think PSU will ever again sign a deal with TU requiring them to play here. Like Joe Paterno said in the 70’s the guy who scheduled TU had to have been drunk. The down side for P-5 schools is just too great.

    • Pitt is one of those schools that will not play a G5 school, including Temple, on the road. That’s insulting, but sobering, and another big reason why we have to get into the Big 12 if indeed they want us. If they go four, we’re in.

  6. Wade Phillips adjusted his defensive scheme to fit his players’ strengths. I’m all for that. 46, 3-4, or 5-2 whatever works. Let the guys pin their ears back and play.

    • two things of note.., the PSU defensive coordinator left this year to take another job., PSU has four players on that side of the ball at the NFL combine this year.., smart guy, graduated from Yale and probably lacked the confidence in the 2016 defense at PSU.., you don’t leave the potential to be great…

      Snow had a chance to take a higher paid position in 2016 but decided to stay..,you only stay if you have confidence in the kids you have coming back..,you stay for the potential to be great…,

      although the 2016 D will lack depth at the beginning of the season they will be great again aided by seven home games and a weaker schedule.., the talent is there

      • stoops was a real big loss for the PSU defense. the moorhead guy is a big plus. I know it will make Matt sick, but we’ve got to watch the Fordham film to counteract their offensive schemes/plays. Also, I hope Snow is using these nine months prior to Army to put a much better defense in against the triple option than he had in their for Navy two years ago.

    • The best way to stop these mobile qbs who have been killing us is to put them on their ass as soon as they get the snap. the center is no protection against one of the greatest heavyweight wrestlers in Pa. history. When we line that kid up as a tackle, we’re wasting our talent edge.

  7. Penetrate with NG and DT’s, DE’s stay disciplined in a contain rush to deny QB being able to scramble wide.

    Better to have two DT’s who can push line back to collapse pocket with DE’s staying with contain. Then have a spy lurking behind LOS to react to QB up the middle scramble or TE slipping over the middle. That’s what Kirby Smart did in the second half against Clemson to take away the big play by DeShaun Watson.

    • yes, I hope that’s the way they are deciding to go now. We had no nose guard last year playing the 4-3 (obviously) even though we have 2 nose guard types on the roster now who are playing tackle.

  8. what happened to Praise Martin?

    • still in the mix. The 5-2 is just a proposed defense. If I’m going to play a 5-2, I want faster guys than Praise playing on the outside. He probably should have been listed as a backup to all five positions, instead of either Ellis, Bronson, FBL, Dogbe and Martin. If they play a 4-3, he’s probably a starter and that’s exactly what I think they will do. 6-2, 255 is enough size.

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