Cherry and Vanilla

Phil Snow had 9 months to prepare for the triple option and this is what he came up with?

In one of those offseason brain-storming sessions between fans and coaches, new Temple offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas reportedly told the group that he felt the Owls’ offense was “too stubborn” last season.

If last year was too stubborn, then just what was that 34,004 Temple fans were forced to watch in a 28-13 loss to Army on Friday night?


Glenn Thomas: Too stubborn

Last night might as well been the return of the Single Wing, with the Owls trying to force feed two things they do not do particularly well—run the ball straight ahead and throw the ball in the pocket.

Fight, fight, fight for the Cherry and the, err, Vanilla.

When you have a quarterback like P.J. Walker, you move him around the pocket and create the threat of run/pass. When you drop him back, you invite him to get killed and that’s just what happened.

Thomas gets an F for his first night as the new coordinator, but the real responsibility rests with the CEO of the operation, Matt Rhule. What worked for the Owls was the little rollout passes Walker was able to complete and the Owls should have counterpunched by going over the top for the long ball. Army’s defensive backs could not hang with the Owls’ wide receivers but those mismatches were never capitalized upon. Rhule is not blind. He has to take charge when he sees mismatches.


Too stubborn was as  good a reason as any, maybe too nice a guy the other.

Phil Snow also gets an F, but we outlined here that Snow has a checkered history against the triple option—giving up no less than 31 points in each of his last four of his last five tries against it. (The one exception was a 34-13 win in 2013.) Last night, he improved upon that by three but the Owls allowed 324 rushing yards. Again, the buck stops with Rhule because Wayne Hardin never lost to a triple option team in his 13 years at Temple a testimony to studying film and countering it well—with blitzes from the blind side blowing up pitchouts before they got downhill.

At times over the last three years, it looks as though Temple never even looks at film of opponents. Rhule likes to preach the process but it’s painfully apparent film study of opponents is not a valued part of it. Fordham scored 37 on Army last year and Duke scored 44 and allowed just three points. Might want to copy what Duke did on defense and Fordham did on offense.

A team that recruits NFL players, like Temple and Duke does, should never lose to a team that requires a five-year military commitment. Duke and David Cutcliffe got the job done. Temple and Matt Rhule and his crew did not.They had nine months to work on a game plan for this one-dimensional foe and impressed no one with it.

Monday: What’s New?



47 thoughts on “Cherry and Vanilla

  1. The defense was bad. However, Walker was erratic. He cost the team at least 2 touchdowns on bad passes (Ellick in the 1st quarter, and Kirkwood in the 3rd). The 1st pick is on him too. Yes it was a tip, but it was a high pass. He missed guys all night. And even when he completed passes, itbwas hardly ever in stride.

    This is not what I was expecting.

  2. This was the worst performance by what was supposed to be a good Temple team I have seen in 40 years. This is a shame, the crowd of almost 35,000 was really buzzing before the game. How many will come back? Dreadful defense and unimaginative offense doomed the Owls. How slow is Walker now, he is getting caught from behind all the time now. Mike, I agree, why were the linebackers playing back? The defensive line was awful thereby forcing the linebackers and defensive backs to make almost every tackle, after 6 yards were gained. Also, can’t anyone catch the ball anymore? This could very well be a very long year. Have we been mislead on where this program is right now? I am starting to think last year was exceptional, and maybe a fluke, only because of the graduated seniors now in the NFL. Maybe this is the real Temple? Pardon my gloom, but I have been down this Temple football road many times.

    • The team didn’t show up for this game, I’m expecting the fans won’t show up for the next one.

      • That’s the pattern. I assumed our coaching staff would have used the time they had to prepare (9 months) to concentrate on loading the box and forcing Army to pass. I assumed they knew how excited the Temple community was about this season and were duty bound to get this first game right. I assumed wrong. No more assuming. 10K students showed up and 33K Temple fans showed up. If we get 22K for SB, we will be extremely lucky. A lot of air went out of the fans and a lot are not coming back.

  3. Phil Snow should be ashamed of himself. The triple option is not hard to stop if you play a six man line with two guys in the A gaps (either side of center) and tackles heads up on the offensive tackles. Can’t have your LB playing 4-5 yards off the guard. I sit in the end zone and knew nine out of ten times where Army was going. On offense I know now why PJ changed his name because he was pathetic. Lose some weight and again become the running threat you once were. On top of that, the OC did not throw one pass longer than twenty yards. Give me a break. Also why not use DeLoach on a fade by the goal line. Every coach all should refuse a pay check for this week because that had to be the worst TU performance in five -ten years.

    • IMO the first (and perhaps most important) aspect of stopping the triple option is taking away the FB dive and counter plays. Once I saw the score was 14-10 in the 3rd I figured Temple was in trouble, as you were playing right into Army’s hands (you either need to run the crap out of the ball and control the line of scrimmage or need to air raid and score points in bunches). You also had new guys on the interior DL and at LB who were replacing multi-year starters. I kept reading about all of the ‘speed and potential’ these guys have, but drill/practice speed and game speed when it’s live and in living color can be 2 different things. For the majority of D1A teams, the idea of simply ‘swapping out’/’reloading’ is more myth than fact.

      Good news for you fellas: it’s 1 game and OOC.
      The bad news: what does this do to your team’s psyche/ fan support?…as well as the tactical issues that need to be addressed.

      Joe P.

  4. What’s making yesterday worse is that I get up and see Daz stopping the triple option. TU blew up all the fragile good will they’ve built up over the last two years. I am sick over it.

  5. What I don’t get, even with the offense being unimaginative there were some things working that for some inexplicable reason we just stop running. Keep running those roll out pass patterns, where Walker seemed at his best, until Army stops it. Were the TEs used much at all after the first quarter? Thompson had that once nice catch for a good gain then nothing. With Army blitzing that should have been open all night. I think I saw only 1 screen on a 3rd and long that didn’t get the first but still a good gain.
    As for the defense, Snow just doesn’t have a clue on how to stop the triple option and as Mike said earlier this week “Where’s the beef”
    In another area does anyone still subscribe to “Pravda”? Just curious as to how many players they are throwing under the bus over there

    • Pravda’s MO is the bury the kids and leave the coaches alone. Last night was all on the coaches but you’ll never see one word of criticism on St. Matt from the staff over there. They are in his back pocket. Maybe a couple of fans will criticize the coaching, but that’s it. Stepford City over there. I unsubscribed again.

      • Unusual and pleasant surprise, no MRAs on Pravda.., most of the comments mirror this site in analysis, frustration, and constructive criticism

  6. This was a historic setback for Temple.

  7. My big concern is what some others have mentioned, the non-Temple affiliated “casual” fan and how this game impacts the perception of the program. As an example, I took my neighbor to last nights game and afterwards he said from the press he had been seeing, last year, etc. he was expecting a much different performance from TU. Not that he said but the impression was this wasn’t exactly big time college football and you’re losing this badly to Army!!

    • Bingo. There’s plenty of evidence to prove what you say. Last year, we had the big win over PSU and the fans kept coming back and was culminated in 35K Temple fans for Tulane. Pick any year where Temple has a disappointing loss early (thinking all of 2013 and the Maryland game of 2012) and the attendance drops off dramatically. This is the pattern. The numbers do not lie.

  8. In retrospect, glad something came up for my wife and I chose to assist her last evening. But will take beating Penn State to turn the fans on…casual, alums and even students. Stony Brook next week hardly a draw, so they better put up 60 points to make people think better about the team.

  9. If Stony Brook is smart, they play the option. Why. Am I worried about this game now…..

    • Fortunately, I don’t think you can learn the option in one week. I have a very good friend who is a FCS official and he said watch out for Stony Brook, their coach is very good. We’ve lost 4 of our last 5 and got outcoached in 4 of our last 5. Not a coincidence.

      • Lost 3 in a row since Rhule got his raise after talking with Missouri…. We can’t lose to Stony Brook, I mean losing the first game of the season with a number if new starters to Army, not good but not a situation that is unheard of. Lose to SB on top of that I wouldn’t know what to think of this program at that point. Even with younger players replacing Matekevich, etc they should still be better than FCS teams

      • can’t lose to Stony Brook. Rhule’s got to order Thomas to roll P.J. out, get him to throw on the run and get him out of that damn pocket. He sees the field when he doesn’t have to look over rushing linemen.

  10. Gee. Fordham’s playing a six man front against Navy. What a novel idea. It’s not working but that’s because they are undermanned.

    • It did not even look like we practiced the six-man front when we threw it out there too late in panic mode. We should have set aside 30 minutes a day on 6-8 man fronts for the last 9 months and opened the game with it, daring them to beat us with the pass. There’s a reason they only completed one pass for 15 yards. Make them win by doing something they are uncomfortable doing, not play into their comfort zone by dropping the LBs back and letting them have 4-5-6-7 yards a crack. Infuriating is a very good word.

  11. 1. We need bigger bodies at DT to stop the run and protect the LBs.., Elijah Robinson must change philosophy to incorporate the emerging facts.
    2. Marshall Ellick is the real deal, has the most upside of any player on the offense. We need to figure out where Adonis Jennings should play, a big kid who runs 4.5 should be able to contribute somewhere besides WR
    3. Good to see Fast Phil last night, I dropped my BBQ ribs 🙂
    4. Big crowd saw a bad performance.., we have talent and our coaching staff has to figure out the best schemes to take advantage of that talent.
    5. We must start playing more underclassmen.., we don’t have strong senior leaders on this team…, start growing the younger kids now with game experience to include the QB position
    6. There is more to the Jahaad Thomas story and it includes maturity..
    7. The kids on the OL are not responding well to the new (old) coach.., time to consider addition by subtraction…, MR needs to put the interest of the team and this season ahead of misplaced loyalty and make the coaching change

    Biggest news of the night was we are out of the Big 12 conversation and the BOT will not expend any political capital on the new stadium

    • 1. If Brian Carter (former DT starter) is not good enough to start at OG, move that big body back to DT. The coaches should be sitting down in the conference room and making that move now if they are worth their pay.
      2. Jennings dropped a lot of balls at Pitt. They didn’t cry when he left.
      3. Missed Fast Phil (and you) yesterday, thanks to the SEPTA train disaster.
      4. I feel sorry for the fans most of all.
      5. Anyone who drops a pass should be put on the bench. This is big-time college football. Got to play like your job depends on it and, if the kids catch the balls, they get to stay out there.
      6. Hand injury is too obscure. They should really be more specific.
      7. Phil Snow mailed it in last night. Worst prepared Temple defense I’ve seen against a triple option. Offense did not get the ball enough to get in a rhythm.

  12. The interior line, mainly the tackles were terrible, fullback got big yardage on first down. You can blame snow but the lack of talent in the interior is gonna hurt this team all year. As for the new offensive coordinator, too conservative play calling and this team is not the same with Thomas out.

  13. Few thoughts:

    On a positive note having 34k fans on a Friday night game during a major holiday against a smaller fan base was fantastic. Will they be back next week after this loss? Ugh…

    The teams being considered for a Big 12 expansion can keep momentum from season to season. Under Rhule’s rule (ha) we have vacillated too much.

    In no way shape or form did I expect us to match the magic of last year given some of the seniors we were losing, but to lose to Army? ARMY? That cost the team and university more than just a 0-1 record. Time will tell how deep that cut. Felt like seppuku from the stands.

  14. Houston decimated the best team in the Big 12. They’ve now beaten FSU and Oklahoma in consecutive games and looked better than they were last year. Herman and the other coaches put their players in a position to succeed unlike our coaches who put process ahead of running schemes best suited to the personnel. This has been a long-running problem for this team. No excuse for not putting PJ on the edge or running a six man front on defense. In addition, anyone catch the dog stares the defense did the whole night? Those kids were lost and were looking for something from the sidelines, which never came.

    • Tale of Two Programs going in opposite directions since the AAC Championship game. We lost to Toledo and Army.

      Did Toledo and Army have better athletes, did they have better game plans, or did they execute better? All three answers go back to the coaching staff.., recruit better or prepare better and get the most out of the talent you put on the field.., I believe we had better athletes and more talent than both Toledo and Army

      We are still in the middle of MR maturation as a head coach…, summer camp left the kids mentally and physically exhausted

      Congrats to TM, TY and RA for landing spots on NFL rosters…, dollars to donuts this senior class will do as well

    • This sums up the problem perfectly. Trying to make PJ a “classic pocket QB” during his senior year just doesn’t make sense. You make a scheme based on the players. Overall there’s too much inconsistency year to year.

      I kept waiting for PJ to do a fake hand-off and take it himself for a big gain. The run threat helped so much last year.

      • A great coach uses the unique talents of his players to the betterment of the team and the detriment of the opponent. Trying to make P.J. Walker someone like Tom Brady is a waste of precious time. He’s more of a Russell Wilson type and the sooner we understand that, the more pressure we will put on opposing defenses. Safeties and LBs will come up to stop Walker from running and he will be floating the ball all day and night over their heads and into hands of wide open Temple receivers. Make him a pocket passer and you are asking for tipped balls, interceptions and sacks. Bad coaching. Very bad coaching.

  15. Speaking if big bodies in the trenches whatever happened to that 4* kid from Imhotep (even forgot his name). Injured, off the team ?? He would be what a RS-sophomore?

    • Extremely suspect competition in high school. Can’t even earn a second-team spot at Temple. His Imhotep team lost to South Fayette, 43-0, in the state championship game and he could not block anyone. Give me a lower-rated kid from St. Joe Prep or Wood instead. In fact, Army’s starting offensive line had an unheralded kid from Wood that boatloaded our defensive line.

      • The public league has much to be desired. Too few coaches and too few experienced kids make kids with a bit of talent appear better than they really are. That’s why it’s a rare event when a public league team beats a private school.

  16. Anyone know the status of Jager Gardner? He got zero carries at RB and I don’t think he was in on kick returns. If Thomas is out, we may need him.

    • I think he should play. He’s a big back with a lot of speed with can bounce off tackles.

      • Now, I read Gardner is also sidelined with an unspecified training camp induced injury. Why did Rhule “hide” the Jahad Thomas injury and apparently this one, too ? It wasn’t like we were going into a game with N.D. (Should I say Texas? 😀) or Houston! Hopefully, Owls will have Gardner back for Stony Brook. Can you check on his secret injury status?

      • I’d like to know why Temple fans had to be asking everyone around them why No. 5 isn’t in the game, no mention in the print or electronic in the days before the game. Way too secretive around here. That’s why I doubt to expect any news on Gardner. Like our third-string tailback’s injury status is going to be something Stony Brook can capitalize on. I went from not believing that we’re even playing this game a year ago to not believing I typed that last sentence.

  17. Week 1 Report Card:

    Offense – D minus…, 251 total offense, 3 turnovers, Temple is last in the AAC in Total Offense after one week, OL did not establish the line of scrimmage..,

    Defense – D minus.., Army ran the ball 67 times, averaged 4.9 yards a carry, and ran for 4 TDs.., we are the 9th ranked defense in the AAC after one week

    Special Teams – A minus.., Austin Jones looks great and we blocked a punt…, KR needs work

    Coaching – D…, we had all Spring and Summer to prepare for the Triple Option, game stats speak volumes.., hardest summer camp in the MR era left the team with tired legs and bruised bodies going into game one.., how else can you explain it?

    Fans – A.., we filled the lower bowl and K Lot was buzzing

    Outlook – Temple 45 – Stony Brook 3.., we have the talent to bounce back

    • Good points, just hope after this game the fan score can stay an A.

      Not so much here but I wish folks on some of the other boards would stop with “maybe Army is better than we thought ” They’re not and I’m sure that’s what fans say of every double digit favorite that they occasionally upset

      • Army is what we thought they are. The Army team we dropped 63 points on in 2012 (with a worse team than we have now) beat a P5 team that year. This Army team won’t beat a P5 team this year. I guarantee it.

    • Fans definitely got the only A of the night. A+ if they all stood on third down (they did not). Specials were good (B, kr muff brought it down from an A). Coaching F and that’s HC, OC and DC. I’m a hard marker.

  18. Ticket sales to Stony Brook fans are starting to pick up

    • They beat No. 19 North Dakota on the road. We laid one of the biggest eggs in history. 10 win teams with plenty of starters back do not lose to 2-win teams with only 14 players back from the 2-deep depth chart. Jeff Monken deserves all the credit and MR much of the blame since he is the CEO and the buck should stop with him.

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