The Big Uglies Have A Lot to Prove


Any team that utilizes a fullback like Nick Sharga has an extra blocker for the run game.

When you win a championship and have a group of guys who contributed much to that championship, the conventional thinking is that there is not much to prove.

For the Temple offensive line, though, there’s plenty.

You are only as good as your last game and, for the Owls, that wasn’t very good. True, much of what the offensive line did or did not do in a 34-26 loss to Wake Forest was due to an ill-advised offensive game plan. (The Owls ran a grand total of 16 running plays and 14 were to the right side. Meanwhile, on the left side, NFL second-rounder Dion Dawkins was holding up his hands and saying, “Hey, guys, I’m over here.”)


When all is said and done, Matt Hennessy could have as good a career at center as Dick Beck (above), Alex Derenthal or Kyle Friend and that’s high praise indeed.

Still, would have liked to watch Jahad Thomas put his hand on Nick Sharga’s back as Sharga wiped out any Wake defender lead blocker Dawkins was not able to mow down.

That’s water under the bridge now, though.

At that point you did not wonder why Ed Foley went 7-15 sandwiched between two of the most successful head coaches in Fordham history, one the guy, Dave Clawson, who coached the pants off him that night.

Still, the right side of the line getting dominated by Wake physically has to be the biggest concern going into the season.

The only key departures are Dawkins and center Brendan McGowan.

The starting lineup, like with quarterbacks, is a work in progress but it appears that redshirt freshman Matt Hennessy is a future star at center and Leon Johnson will be a fixture at tackle.  I had one ex-Temple offensive lineman tell me that Hennessy already reminds him of Dick Beck in the way he played and said that he is the Owls’ next great center.

Brian Carter, who started the 2014 game against UCF at DEFENSIVE tackle, is in the mix for one of the guard spots and Cole Boozer, a redshirt senior, could be the other tackle depending upon whether head coach Geoff Collins is more comfortable with the more experienced Johnson at LT to protect, say, Logan Marchi’s blindside.

Collins set the spring as an opportunity for what he calls “position flexibility” so just about every offensive lineman can be counted on as a backup or starter at every other OL position. In addition to those just mentioned, Adrian Sullivan, a redshirt senior, is in the mix as well as redshirt sophomores Benson Israel and Jovahn Fair. Darian Bryant, a redshirt freshman from Chestnut Hill Academy, should see his first significant time. Another highly regarded recruit, Aaron Ruff, has been an enigma so far but could turn into a  factor down the line. There are others down the depth chart who may be above or below the line.

The bottom line is that the starters will be a pretty experienced group but there is work to be done filling in the backup spots.

Whatever happens, that last ugly game has to be washed out of the Big Uglies’ mouths and the sooner the better.

Monday: The Gold Standard

Wednesday: Beginner’s Luck

Friday: 5 Training Camp Questions


6 thoughts on “The Big Uglies Have A Lot to Prove

  1. Experience doesn’t always equate to getting the job done (ie: a 2-10 team that has all it’s starters back? Obviously doesn’t necessarily mean improvement for the new season). Not that Temple doesn’t have good linemen, but like you’ve said in the past Mike, getting them in sinc, being efficient, not making mistakes/penalties, disciplined and moving the ball, like a Mike Pettine CB West team, is what counts. I just want to see Collins have this team have it’s shit together for ND. If it does that than whatever happens happens – but no shooting yourself in the foot stuff just because he’s a new coach. Know what I mean?

    • A lot of things alarmed me about last season’s coaching (even in a 10-4 season) but I still can’t get those 120 yards in penalties against Penn State out of my head. That cost not only us two straight wins over them, but a G5 champion a win over a P5 champion. That opportunity may never come the G5’s way again. In that respect, I want to see Collins clean up that kind of sloppiness. You are right. Would have never happened to a well-drilled team like those coached by Pettine and Hardin. (Of course, a close second was that coaching staff’s refusal to game plan against a triple-option team. Malfeasance, especially for a CEO taking $2.4 million from the uni.)

      • the 2017 OL has 8 student athletes with the ability to start on every team in the conference., consistency and unit cohesion are the keys to success this year..,

        Wiesehan must focus more on technique and demand the unit spend more in the film room studying their opponents

  2. Yeah, surprising, especially at Temple, how a 10-win season could be disappointing, huh? Well, as you said Mike, the penalty fiasco against PSU and the bowl game mess were 2 big disappointments. Win both of them (and it WAS possible) and last year would have become Temple’s best season ever because they would have ended up in the top 20 (maybe top 15) at 12 and 2 (most wins), a bowl win and consecutive wins over PSU. And y’know in some ways Al Golden did more for the program than Rhule did, even with his consecutive 10-win seasons. Rhule was quite inconsistent and he had the benefit of coming in after Golden cleaned everything up and established a winning attitude. What Rhule did do was further establish Temple as a solid program and breaking school records, even with the inconsistencies. Let’s just hope Collins will keep the winning going and even improve certain aspects. I have a feeling he can. Go Owls.

  3. But isn’t indigestion what makes games more fun to watch? Actually, game-day coaching is my biggest question at this point. But I’m thinking because of his experience in really big-time programs where the HCs let their coordinators handle a lot of game coaching on the sideline, that he has that game-day coaching experience, albeit with just the DC, and also knowing how to let his coordinators handle things too (hopefully they’ll be better than Satterfield!). And hopefully he’ll have a firmer hand when it’s obvious adjustments need to be made. But again, he has really great experience which should equate to a much better start to his HCing than Rhule had. Let’s hope it shows in the first game. And BTW, the Owls shouldn’t take Nova too lightly either.

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