Immediate Needs: RB, CB, FB


Geoff Collins checks the footwear to see if Nitro can fill Nick Sharga’s shoes.

There were at least a couple of times a first-year coaching staff was caught with its pants down a year ago at Temple University.

It wasn’t a pretty sight.

One of them came at East Carolina, running backs went down so fast that the Owls were down to moving their backup fullback—Nick Ritrovato—to tailback and he responded in a big way with 14 carries for 48 yards to close out a 34-10 win at ECU. Had the then walk-on not responded like a scholarship player, that game might have turned out differently. Nitro received his scholarship on Oct. 27th. The other time the Owls coaches got caught with their pants down was failing to identify that the gamer at quarterback was the backup, not the starter, for the first seven games.

In that instance, the season might have turned out differently.

For Temple to be successful this season, Nitro needs to move back to fullback and create holes for the tailbacks as a lead blocker to set up the play-action passing game for Frank Nutile. That’s Temple TUFF in a nutshell. Let’s hope Dave Patenaude can grasp that simple concept.

This year, the suspenders are tightened and the pants are mostly secure, but that does not mean the Owls have no immediate needs.

They can start with the areas they lost two players, a 6-foot-6 corner with speed in Derrick Thomas, who took his graduate transfer year and reunited with Matt Rhule at Baylor. The other was the unfortunate loss of David Hood at running back, who was told by the doctors that his last concussion was one too many. For what it’s worth, it would be useful as well to develop a backup plan at fullback should Nitro go down.

For Temple to be
successful this season,
Nitro needs to move back
to fullback and create holes
for the tailbacks as a lead
blocker to set up the
play-action passing game
for Frank Nutile.
That’s Temple TUFF in a nutshell

Thomas probably wasn’t going to beat out Linwood Crump Jr. at one corner position—he was behind him in the “above the line” area last year—and certainly wasn’t going to beat out FCS first-team All Big South corner Rock Ya-Sin at the other. Still, he would have provided a valuable insurance policy for the Owls at that position if attrition came into play.

At running back, Rock Armstead is primed for a Bernard Pierce-type season if he can stay healthy and Jager Gardner is back from his injury but the ranks are pretty thin behind that. Tyliek Raynor was a big-time recruit, and should be healthy but he is an unknown at this point. This looks like an area were one of the incoming true freshman, like Kyle Dobbins, will have an opportunity to make an impact.

The other areas—offensive and defensive lines—look like they are in good shape. Chris Wisehan, the offensive line coach, said the Owls interior three—two guards and center Matt Hennessey—were the best the team has had since he’s been here and he’s one of the few holdovers of the Rhule staff.

As loaded as the Owls are, cornerback and running back looks like the fastest way for the incoming freshmen to get on the field and it is vital for a couple of those to come through when their number is called.

Just like Nitro did.



9 thoughts on “Immediate Needs: RB, CB, FB

  1. So long as Patenaude has anything to do with this team, I have no confidence that they’ll stick to their strengths. Last year took any sense of confidence I might have in the coaching staff especially after the UConn and Army games. Until they string four of five games in a row together playing TU Tuff, regardless of whether or not they win, I’ll hold my breath about whether the coaching staff has improved.

  2. This team will improve when Collins recruiting classes improve.

    Otherwise I see a mediocre season this year.

    • This team is absolutely loaded, much moreso than last year’s team. I don’t see how anyone can surmise a “mediocre” season from this personnel grouping.

  3. I guess we’ll see some position changes in the summer. Didn’t FBL play some FB. That would be fun to see near the goal line.

    • Patenaude strikes me as a guy who is in love with setting up the run with the pass and not vice-versa. That’s just dumb. If you pound the rock, that’s when the linebackers and the safeties inch up to the line of scrimmage and become susceptible to the ball fake that Nutile does so well. Great coaches take advantage of the unique talents of their players and not try to force the players to do something they are not capable of doing. For years, Temple has recruited tough pound the rock guys and ball-faking quarterbacks and that’s not going to change for a full 4-year recruiting cycle so the coaches would be smart to adapt to the players they have, not the ones they want. Plus, Temple fans have grown to love this style of ball for good reason. It’s the school’s 10th and Diamond persona.

  4. ” absolutely loaded, much moreso than last year’s team”? That’s a stretch at this point. Too many personnel questions. But the biggest question is coaching which is the most important unanswered equation. My motto right now is “we’ll see.” If they continue with what they did in the last 6 games last year things will likely be good – if a repeat of the first 7 game-day coaching, we can hang it up.

  5. I agree with Lawclerk71….I have absolutely no confidence with him at OC. Some of these guys get so caught up in their system that they can’t believe it when it goes wrong. Part of the problem was having the wrong QB….I get that…..but most of it was not having the system that fits the players. Go back to a bruising Oline with a ram for a fullback, chew up real estate, keep teams’ offenses off the field, wear ’em out, then start dropping bombs on them… know….the Temple way! Sorry….I get excited writing about it even.

    • I honestly thought Collins was going to re-evaluate things at the end of last year and make Patenaude a wr coach. Instead, he kept him as OC and promoted Ed Foley to head coach of the offense. I hope that means a more Temple-oriented offense is coming (establish the run, bring the safeties and LBs up to the line of scrimmage, then open lanes for the wide receivers with play-action fakes to the running backs). Patenaude believes in the Coastal Carolina system (spread the field with 4-5 wides, then use the short passing game to open up draws). That’s ass-backwards with Temple’s current personnel.

  6. Sharga battered ahead for some key yards at times. Can Nitro do the same?

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