Arguably, there were a lot of valuable players on the 2016 AAC championship team but, if you were to take a super secret vote of the players, it might have come down to two.
P.J. Walker or Nick Sharga.
Frankly, I don’t know who would have won and it would not have surprised me if Sharga did.
That’s why, even with the euphoria on Saturday of watching my beloved Temple Owls finally play like the team I thought they were before the season started, there was a tinge a sadness in that the best fullback in the country was limited to largely a special teams’ role.
If the full potential of the Owls are going to be realized, then the talents of the most valuable player on a Power 6 championship team should be maximized, not minimized, going forward.
Imagine this scenario, for instance.
David Hood’s hands on the back of Sharga as the fullback pancakes one linebacker on the way to a big gain. Over and over again. Then he does the same for Rob Ritrovano, whose “Nitro” nickname might be the best Temple football moniker since Gerald “Sweet Feet” Lucear.
This pile does not begin to move until Sharga takes charge.
Then, if Ryquell Armstead’s recovery takes a little longer than expected, Sharga leading the way for Isaiah Wright on little swing passes out the backfield as a counter to blitzes on quarterback Logan Marchi.
All of these things open up options for the best group of wide receivers I’ve ever seen at Temple—Ventell Bryant, Keith Kirkwood, Marshall Ellick, Adonis Jennings and Brodrik Yancy.
Sharga’s just another weapon in what would be a nuclear arsenal and plugging him back in there on every down adds megatonage for every other weapon.
When I was introduced to Geoff Collins at the season-ticket holder party, I asked him to do me one favor.
“What is it?” Collins asked.
“Never take Nick Sharga off the field,” I said. “At least on offense. He’s not only the best fullback in the country, he’s the best blocker in the country and that includes offensive linemen. He’s probably also your best linebacker.”
“Don’t worry,” Collins said. “I won’t. We’re going to be using him even more this season.”
That promise was not kept on Saturday.
Keeping it in the final six games could be the difference between greatness and mediocrity.
Thursday: A Throwback