Monday: What’s News?

A pretty good recap of how James Madison exploited SB for 38 points.

They say bad news comes in threes, and so it was on Friday for the Temple University football team.

The first bit of bad news was in the form of a story on that the stadium is a non-starter, at least from City Council’s point of view. The second showed up on, quoting an AP source saying that Temple is now out of Big 12 consideration. A few hours later, the worst news came in the form of an ill-prepared and poorly-coached Owls’ team losing to team that posted a 2-10 record the year before. A 10-win team with plenty of starters back lost to a two-win team with only 14 players back from its two-deep depth chart. There is no way to sugarcoat or minimize how bad that looks, feels or is.

“We had 21 points
on the board before
we even started.
We probably would
never have discovered
that, had we not
graded all the film.”
_ Wayne Hardin
on how film study
won the 1979 GSB

This is not where we should be, but this is where we are. Maybe they are not related developments, but certainly all coming on Sept. 2, 2016, a day that will live in Temple football infamy.

Temple fell into recent bad Temple habits of “worrying about what we do, not what the other guys do” and “just concentrating on what we do best and the process will take care of itself.”

Will it?


The entire Owl coaching staff needs to go into a room and listen to guys like Wayne Hardin and Bill Belichick tell them war stories of how they picked up this tendency and that tendency of an opponent and how they delighted about exploiting said tendencies.

Then, for their homework assignment, take three game films from last year’s Stony Brook schedule—William and Mary, Maine and James Madison—and determine just what the William and Mary and Maine defenses did well and what the James Madison offense did well, have every assistant and head coach contribute and apply those same principles to Saturday’s game plan. William and Mary shut out the Sea Wolves, 21-0, on Sept. 15, and Maine held them to 10 points a month later. In between, James Madison scored 38 points in a 38-20 win.

Then, for their
homework assignment,
take three game films
from last year’s
Stony Brook
schedule—William& Mary,
Maine and
James Madison—and
determine just what
the William&Mary
and Maine defenses
did well and what
the James Madison
offense did well

It’s probably no coincidence that Belichick followed Hardin around as a 7-year-old son of a Navy assistant coach. The current Temple coaches need to listen to this story about the Garden State Bowl and how the Owls had it won before the California coaches knew what hit them.

“Cal wanted to exchange films of every game,” Hardin said in a 2009 Inquirer story. “Usually you just take the first one, one in the middle and the last one. So I said, ‘Find out which coaches on their staff want them?’ Turned out, it was the defensive coaches. OK. We spent night after night after night, digging and digging and digging. We came up with one or two things we had to do.

“We found out that if we pulled our guards up the middle, we’d end up with one of them going down the field untouched into the secondary. So did the back. Get the hell out of the way. There was no one to block. We had 21 points on the board before we even started. We probably would never have discovered that, had we not graded all the film. …

“On offense, their quarterback [Rich Campbell] was taught, which we knew, to read when he didn’t see anything [to] throw blindly into the flat to the fullback. I mean, game after game. The fullback was catching the ball and making big yards. So we developed a two-man [pass] rush, which we wouldn’t have done. We’d have one guy come up to meet the fullback, whichever way he went, 5 yards deep in the backfield. And eight guys would drop into coverage. So there’s nothing to read, except a lot of jerseys.

“Those are the type of things that can happen. That’s how upsets are made. People study.”

Does anyone really think the Temple brain trust did enough study of Army? Were the A gaps left uncovered? (Err, yes. That’s where the fullback got his yards.) Did the Owls even try to make Army throw the ball to beat them by loading the box with eight?  Nothing on the field indicated it. (Duke beat Army, 44-3, last year by loading the box with eight and daring the Cadets to throw.) The Temple linebackers were 4 or 5 yards off the ball. You play Penn State that way, not Army.  In fact, nothing on the field the past three years indicates Temple does enough film study of any opponent.

Stony Brook might be a good one to start with.

Mix in a little Tribe defensive scheme with a dose of successful Madison plays and away we go. It’s all right if part of the process involves doing what you do well, but the ingredients for winning include a little of this and a little of that and if that’s not part of your process, you’ve got to get a new process. There’s a lot of chess and checkmating in football to be done these days, just like those days.

Otherwise, the bad news of last week could get a whole lot worse.

There would be no dishonor in Phil Snow stealing part or all of this game plan.

Wednesday: Unintended Consequences



11 thoughts on “Monday: What’s News?

  1. DVRed the game and watched it yesterday. (I’m a glutton for punishment.) The most glaring thing was how Army did whatever it wanted up the middle and how many times it got to the edge. PSU and Barkley are going to kill this team even with their average O line. Guys went for fakes and did not play assignments. They had to make Army throw the ball and didn’t. On offense, the red zone drought continues. They have two-three receivers over 6′ 3″ including DeLoatch, who may be one of the best red zone receivers in the country, and they don’t throw a fade. Unbelievable. They also didn’t throw long and Philip Walker did not run. He looks slow and unable to go from first to fifth gear like he did in years past. A couple of times he had a hole but took off too late and too slowly. I just hope there was a lot of looking in the mirror by both the players and the coaches because it’s going to be a long season without some introspection.

  2. Mike, I would have to agree that certainly with the last 2 games of last season and the Army game this team does not look like it is prepared for the opposition. John’s comments after watching the reply seem to solidify that. The loss to Army was bad, I know a lot of people are trying to rationalize that Army is really better than thought, well I’m not buying that. I also know upsets do happen but we’re not Michigan losing to App State with the fans still going to be there, I believe a big opportunity was squandered on Friday with regards to starting to sustain a decent fan base.

    All that aside, my bigger concern is that 4 years into Rhule’s tenure this team got physically manhandled by an Army team we should at least have physically superior athletes across the board. Now talk of perhaps getting physically whipped by an FCS team with some D1 transfers. It’s one thing to have to replace a number of starters and you would expect a learning curve as this years offensive and defensive units start to get game experience, but to be at a physical disadvantage after 3 recruiting classes to Army and Stony Brook puts some real doubts in my mind. Plus even with the seniors from last year gone the defensive unit wasn’t exactly devoid of experience, 3 senior starting on the D-Line with all 3 if not starting having gotten considerable playing time the previous 2 seasons, 3 seniors stating at LB, ok Matekevich was gone but Alwan started last year and Marshall and Williams played a lot last year. So did I expect the defensive to be a little rough around the edges the first couple of games, yes, to be totally dominated by Army, no.

    • Another concern is that we’re 0-3 since the Missouri dalliance and MR refuses to accept any responsibility other than an off-hand remark made after knocking the players and the leadership 15 minutes of a post-game press conference. While there was a physical element to the beating, Army was blocking six on six and that’s Snow’s fault. Err, make that Rhule’s (he’s the CEO). We should have made them block six on eight, put Averee Robinson over the nose and our two most physical tackles in the A gaps. As you can see by the linked story above, Jeff Monken was shocked that we did not do that. He didn’t have to pass because we did nothing to make him pass. If they block 6 on 8, they have no one to block two Temple players running free into their backfield. The lack of football common sense of this staff is alarming. Not so much to me, but to Jeff Monken, too.

  3. this comment is from an email from former Temple player Dave (FIzzy) Weinraub. Too good for just two eyes:

    Labor Day Analogy

    David Weinraub
    10:13 AM (18 minutes ago)

    to me

    Let me say that watching Matt Rhule coach an offense is similar to women having labor pains. Although they try to block everything out, they know the contractions and pain will come back. And when they do, they’re worse than before.

    So we just watched the start of a new season, and it was (offensively) just the same as the old season (as well as the two seasons before that, and the two seasons as Golden’s offensive coordinator). Despite having significantly more talent on the field, Rhule lost the game by not understanding how to call a college offense. There was one run by the quarterback (at the wrong time), no bootlegs, no reverses, no counters, no triple receivers, one trick play (too late), and the never-ending up-the-gut on first down. Some day Rhule might understand the value of play-action on first down. Our 1.5 million dollar coach spends most of the game whining to the officials. Rhule promised new wrinkles this year. The only new wrinkles were on my forehead.

    To sum-up, I absolutely do not enjoy watching him coach, it is painful. Therefore, I hereby resign my moral investment in his team; I can’t take it anymore. I will come to the games to see all you guys, and discuss how to stay alert in the shower after practice. (Always have your back to the wall.)

    Thanks for letting me vent.


    David Weinraub

  4. the 7th ranked offense in the AAC last year looked even worse in the first game.., a real head scratch considering the talent at the skill positions..,

    what is our identity on offense, what kind of offense are we running, what is our strength? i’m not sure if we have ever figured out who we want to be on offense, let alone who we can be..,

    on defense, where’s the beef? Hard to win without stopping the run..,

    this really hurts the heart and cuts to the bone.., the PSU game will define the season.., it may be time to consider giving more playing time to the last two “great recruiting classes” now

  5. When I listened to the Coach Rhule press conferences before the season, I thought I heard him say that part of the problem with some of the games they didn’t do well in last year was because the coaches got away from the Temple plan and tried to change to play the particular opponent. This year the coaches were going to stick to their system. I might have misheard him or might be remembering it wrong, but if I am correct, that is not a good sign for the coaches making adjustments to meet the team they are playing next.

    • If Wayne Hardin would have taken that approach in the Garden State Bowl, Cal would have won that game. Football is a game of taking what the defense gives you and the exploiting the weakness of the opposing offense. Army’s only thing is the run and we gave them it. Stevie Wonder could see that if you force them to pass, you win. That Matt Rhule statement tells me one thing above all: This staff DOES NOT KNOW HOW to make adjustments or study game film.

  6. I was away the last couple weeks but was anticipating, actually a bit worried, about this first game. I’m one who thought Army could give Temple a tough game this year, meaning a close game but not a blowout beating. Even with jet lag I tuned in to see my game recording the same night I got home (not knowing the result) and was sickened going into the last quarter – it was obvious Temple wasn’t going to be able to meet the challenge of playing catch-up ball. If something doesn’t give, an even record will be an accomplishment. It reminds me of Rhules first season. I hope I’m wrong, but it also underscores Temple’s history and that thinking of a new stadium expenditure was always premature. My real feeling is that Rhule is doing the best he knows how and therefore Temple is still only an average program at best with a few bright spots along the way. Prove me wrong Matt!

    • I think Phil hit on the Rhule problem. He tried adjustments last year and thought it took Temple out of its game. (Hell, I don’t know what they were; I didn’t see any.) Simple things like playing 8 men in the box against a triple option team and putting a solid-tackling speedy spy on a dual-threat quarterback should not be over his head. Those two things apparently are. Maybe he’s learning on the job, like he learned to use the fullback and cut down on the wide receivers over the last two years. Unfortunately, we’re the guinea pigs and have to watch our team lose to a 2-10 team because of it. Too high a price to pay IMHO.

  7. In a 12-game season, you cannot afford to take any weeks off. Temple took Week One off. Inexcusable.

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