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.
“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?