The Philly Special


Even though I am an avowed fan of so-called “trick” plays (I prefer the term innovative), I understand that some do not like them.

“We saw Temple use
it to beat Penn State,”
would have been great
local currency, but
Pederson did not go there.

I had a conversation with a fellow Temple fan after Toledo used five trick plays to beat Temple, 36-13, a week after the Owls used no trick plays to beat Maryland, 38-7. Under then Temple (and ironically current Maryland) defensive coordinator Chuck Heater, the Owls were an over-pursuing defense susceptible to misdirection. Randy Edsall, the Maryland coach, didn’t try any the week before but Toledo must have picked up something on the Maryland game film.


Ed Foley, Temple Nation turns its lonely eyes to you

“Pure genius,” I said of then Toledo coach Tim Heckman.

“I don’t like trick plays,” my friend said. “Line up and beat them the old-fashioned way.”

“You don’t like them because they beat us. You sound like Knute Rockne before the forward pass.”

I thought about my friend and smiled when the Philadelphia Eagles used at least one trick play–The Philly Special–to beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl and remembered that play looked a lot like a play Temple used to beat Penn State nearly three years prior. The Eagles direct-snapped the ball to running back Corey Clement, who took off ostensibly running for the end zone but instead flipped the ball to receiver Trey Burton–a former quarterback–who found current quarterback Nick Foles in the end zone for six.

In the Owls’ version, they direct-snapped to running back Jahad Thomas, who took the same route to flip it to receiver John Christopher–a former quarterback–who found then current quarterback P. J. Walker for a big first down.

It would have been nice for Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson to give a tip of the hat to the local college squad afterwards but, instead, he vaguely referred to “seeing some plays in college games that we liked” as the Genesis for The Philly Special. National TV people picked up the Clemson version of the Temple play a year later and pointed to it as being Pederson’s possible inspiration. “We saw Temple use it to beat Penn State,” would have been great local currency, but Pederson did not go there.

To me, anything from 1-5 trick plays a game is perfect. Six is probably too much or using the same play more than once in the same game is probably not advisable.

Generally speaking, there haven’t been enough trick plays in the Temple offensive arsenal for my taste since that Penn State victory. I can remember only one from scrimmage in a down-and-distance situtation last year–the scramble formation that allowed Isaiah Wright to score on a direct snap against Army. The Owls also tried a variation of the 2015 play last year on a two-point conversion with Wright hitting Frank Nutile.

That’s not enough.

Maybe new assistant head coach for offense Ed Foley can install at least one  for the upcoming season. The Maryland game might be a nice place to start. Ed, Temple Nation turns its lonely trick plays eyes to you. Foley has been around for all of the trick plays of the last 10 years–spanning four head coaches–and might be able to come up with the daddy of all trick plays and something we haven’t seen before.

If so, he can call it the North Philly Special.

Friday: The Five Best Trick Plays of the Ed Foley Era

Monday: The Coaching Shuffle

Wednesday: Developmental Program?



6 thoughts on “The Philly Special

  1. Or how about every play in a series be trick plays. That would ostensibly really screw up the opposing D! I don’t care if they have trick plays for half the game as long as they win games.

  2. Hardin was the consummate trickster and always hid one or two up his sleeve. Love to see a drop kick just to say I saw one.

  3. Watch Auburn games. Malzahn works things in quite often. Best one I recall was by Nebraska in an Orange Bowl. QB got direct snap and put the ball on the ground then faded back as if to pass. Guard pulled, picked up ball and ran a long way. I believe that play is illegal these days.

  4. Hilarious. Noticed you had The Philly Special story planned for this space 10 days ago. (You usually give us a heads-up on what’s coming.) Then Pravda intervenes and does a story on the same thing and publishes it the day before you do. Wonder if the Comrade over there is stealing your ideas? Thought this story was better because it takes the Temple angle and the other story concentrates on the Clemson/South Carolina angle with an interview with Coastal Carolina import Dave Patenaude. Either way, good work. I expect the Comrade Editor over there to jump the gun on your next three stories as well. If that happens, just surprise us in the future. We’ll understand.

  5. Pingback: TU Offense: Most predictable in college football – Temple Football Forever

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