In the bible, Isaiah is considered the prophet of hope.
When the persuasive recruiting powers of Matt Rhule lured Isaiah Wright to Temple over a number of Power 5 schools, that hope referred to his versatility and talent in a number of capacities. Wright was (and is) a special talent.
Wright could have been a NFL-level wide receiver (and he still can) but Rhule was so intrigued last year by the true freshman’s talent he tried him in the Stony Brook game at tailback. The experiment was a qualified success: Seven carries, 46 yards in 97-degree heat in a 38-0 win. Wright showed a great first step and, unlike teammate Ryquell Armstead, was a multiple-cut runner who could make a defense miss at the second level. He is like Matt Brown and Jahad Thomas in that respect. Armstead is like Bernard Pierce, a one-cut runner. Now, more than ever, Temple needs to utilize Wright at the tailback position, but does this staff even realize that or know Wright has a short but productive history at that position?
After last year’s Stony Brook game, Rhule said what he found out was that Wright could be a great tailback option should anything happen to his then top two ball carriers, Thomas or Armstead. Since both Armstead and Thomas rushed for over 900 yards last year, that two-headed monster was enough to produce an AAC championship but Rhule still created a role for Wright as the wildcat quarterback and a part-time wide receiver. “We have to find ways to get him the ball in space,” Rhule said.
Rhule, though, always filed Wright in the tailback fallback file. Rhule felt Wright was the tailback of the future. Why Geoff Collins and Dave Patenaude don’t is a mystery to me.
That’s one of the reasons, to me at least, this new staff is so disappointing in so many areas.
Last week, we called out this staff for the underuse of Wright (only two touches in the prior two games) and, shockingly, the emphasis on Wright’s touches changed for the better. Here’s what happened: Wright, only a part-time wide receiver, has led the Owls in receiving in three of five games. His endzone catch for a TD against UMass made ESPN Sports’ Center’s Top 10 plays. Against Houston, he had five catches for 53 yards and six carries out of the Wildcat for eight yards. Those latter numbers were diminished because any good offensive coordinator knows for a Wildcat to work, you’ve got to have the Wildcat quarterback throw up to half the time. Unfortunately, Temple does not have a good offensive coordinator. When the Owls shifted into the Wildcat, you could hear the Houston players from the first row in Section 122 scream “13, 13!!!!” because they knew he was going to run the ball. Have him throw a quick pass and they back off. That quick pass never came.
Armstead is fighting through injuries like the warrior he is, but he is nowhere near explosive as he was a year ago. David Hood is nothing more than a third-down back, ala David Meggett of Giants’ fame. Jager Gardner is injured and out for the season. Collins is talking about using a walk-on who did nothing in the Philadelphia Public League at running back. Ugh.
Wright is the perfect answer to put in that spot, and nobody at the E-O seems to have a clue.
The same thing applies for Nick Sharga, who is being criminally underused at fullback, considering that new head coach Geoff Collins called him the “best fullback in the country.” Sharga is also the team’s best linebacker, but this staff doesn’t seem to know or care about Sharga’s past history at the position–which included an outstanding performance two years ago in a 34-12 win over Memphis. The Owls only have Sharga for one more season and they better be able to use his multiple talents to help this team win. If they are only going to play him 15 plays or less on offense, which they have done in all five games, use him for 15 or more on defense at linebacker. Instead, in the summer, his “position of flexibility” was defensive end, not linebacker. Ugh (again). In no metric world is Sharga a defensive end. He’s a fullback/linebacker. Temple has plenty of experienced DEs; it could use Sharga’s experience at linebacker now.
Put Wright at tailback and Sharga at part-time linebacker and, for Temple, hope turns into a winning reality and a lot of positive plays get made on both sides of the ball.
With this staff, though, do not hold your breath.
That’s why this ECU game will probably go down to a field goal either way and that’s not the kind of result a defending league champion with this much talent returning should ever accept, even grudgingly.
Tomorrow: ECU Preview
Mike: You are preaching to the choir. Unfortunately, no one on the staff can sing well enough to be with us. I don’t know the tech capabilities you and this format have, but on the RollBamaRoll site, often a former HS coach will present concepts using actual video to make his point about an effective play call or defensive set, or to explain zone blocking, stunts, or different coverages.
One can’t argue with pictures like can be done with verbiage. Maybe there is someone from the staff charged with monitoring web chatter and such a presentation could open eyes (if they haven’t been sewn shut).
I’m not so sure about the staff not hearing these things because we posted a 1:43 video of Patenaude saying how he was going to use Wright in the Wildcat this season (video done over the summer) and they did not use Wright in the wildcat once in the first four games. After we posted that video (with the caption, “what are you waiting for, the bowl game?”), he used Wright six times in the wildcat in the Houston game. To me, the Wildcat works best when you throw out of it three times and run out of it three times but the point is that something caused him to try it against Houston. Coincidence? I’m leaning toward no.
Mike, I am not sure our OC understands what the wildcat is. He seems to think it is a way to toss the ball to a running back for a sweep without going through the quarterback. Every time we shift into the wildcat we might as announce that Wright is going to try to sweep around end. Without the passing you want, the other team knows what to do before the ball is snapped. No wonder Wrights running out of the wildcat gained so little.
Many have pointed out that Rhule took two years to develop into a successful HC and that Collins should be afforded the same opportunity. The remaining question for me regarding this coaching staff is whether or not they have the ability and desire to develop and improve themselves up to the level of D1 coaching. Are we witnessing the early stage of such an effort or simply seeing that which we wish were taking place?
The problem is with the team he inherited Collins shouldn’t be afforded the opportunity of going 2-10 like Rhule’s first year. Worst case this year should be like Rhule’s second year, record wise. Win the next 2, defense continues to improve the way it had since the USF and the offense starts to show a semblance of effectiveness then I would agree with you
I agree JD. Rhule and Collins had two very different teams to start with, coming off of two very different sets of expectations. We had more reason to hire a winning FBS coach instead of Collins than we did with Rhule. Inevitably the bar will raise as the team performs better. We regressed in coaching.
Of note while I may have been one to mock “the process” in the beginning, at least it was a plan. A concept. Something to work toward. I don’t see that with Collins. Just dirty pieces of paper littering our field while the other team makes a first down.
best fullback in the country, best group of wide receivers in the country (or at least Temple history), three of five starters returning from an AAC championship offensive line and this offense is struggling because a new OC refuses to play the big-time recruit because he’s not mobile? Sorry, Collins doesn’t deserve a Mulligan here nor should it be acceptable he go 2-10 like Rhule did. Need a big-arm qb who can get the ball out fast to these guys and not a guy who throws six interceptions in the last two games.
Mike I’m really depressed about this season. To see the program reach respectability the last two seasons and see it regress as much as it has because of inept coaches is too much to contemplate. Collins doesn’t have the perspicacity to follow what he himself said, namely that there are no position players and that guys would play anywhere they can contribute. Instead, we’ve seen the exact opposite. Not using Wright at tailback, Sharga at LB, and others where they can help is the epitome of stupidity. Couple that with listless game plans and the seeming inability to learn from your mistakes spells doom for the program and at least five years of just plain old mediocrity. That prediction will be confirmed in the next two games. If the Owls lose either game or barely eke out wins it will show how far the Owls have fallen because both ECU and UConn are truly horrendous teams. That drop is entirely on the coaches who were not even smart enough to leave things alone and build on the success of the offenses and defenses that had so much success the last two seasons. Hey maybe Rhule will be fired when he goes 0-12 and he’d consider coming back. Baylor has alums who likely are already amassing a pot of money to buy him out. I must admit that I love seeing him fail because of the duplicitous manner in which he left the program. Can anyone say schadenfreude?
Hindsight is 20/20 but Pat Kraft probably should have accepted my advice and bring Al Golden back. I wrote that the day after Rhule quit, I believed it then and I believe it today. Too late now because Temple doesn’t eat contracts and, apparently, Collins is overly loyal to an incompetent OC. Golden would have come back in a heartbeat and we all know he can win here. Collins was always a crapshoot. We did not roll seven or 11.
again.., look at USF as an example for how to become and stay relevant…., Taggart fired both his OC and DC before back to back winning seasons…,
Taggart left and USF lured Charlie Strong who led Louisville to P5 prominence..
First, get a great HC;
Second, recruit an all-conference QB;
Third, build a defense that can stop the run;
USF did all three w/both Taggart and Strong
Collins must sleep like a baby. Imagine laying your head down on the pillow and know that if you get some wins you will be on to a sweeter gig in a couple years with a ton of dough in your pocket. However, if you stink up the joint, you also know that TU won’t pull the plug and you can keep cashing those checks.
Sweet dreams, Coach!
Mr Belli, YOU have used my favorite WORD again to describe the human condition : Schadenfruede !!!! However I am torn between wanting Temple to win a few OR have G Collins get his ass handed to him early and often just to get him out of the way ASAP. Yes that would be schadenfreude: to get joy out of the misery and suffering of another.
Also our Running Back – I have seen enough thru the years of watching Temple FB to realize most runners really only had 1 or 2 good years, as is with #7 RA. Maybe he is already beyond his prime OR he is deeply injured OR he can only thrive with a system and certain OL linemen. Anyway I think he has seen his best days.
No need to be torn. You must root for Collins to be successful ASAP because Temple is not a normal school that fires unsuccessful coaches. They held onto Bobby Wallace for eight years, which means they are not eating this guy’s contract for the next five years.
Does anyone remember Timmy Brown of the Eagles? He was Mr. Versatility, and Mr. Wright has the same skill set plus he and can —– the ball. Timmy also had an acting career after football. He was Spear—–er on M*A*S*H.
Spearchucker Jones….had no idea he was an Eagle….great trivia question.
Great actor and football player. MASH became PC after the first season.
On another note…..this ridiculous targeting call is going to kill this game. I don’t have the dexterity to type out all of the reasons why….my goodness. I haven’t seen one of them that has been clear cut….just some arbitrarily thrown flag in each game.
Targeting calls are reviewed…and the refs still got it wrong. Initially the play looked bad, but the replay showed that it was a clean play.