Eighteen nights until game day and the Temple Owls are testing one of the tenants of the Geoff Collins’ football philosophy:
I’m all for it if the guy doing the flexing actually plays some downs at his other position during the season.
If not, it’s a waste of time.
That’s kind of where I was leaning when I heard that Shaun Bradley, arguably the Owls’ best linebacker, was getting some time on the other side of the ball as a running back. That’s a real head-scratcher because the Owls are deep and talented on the other side of the ball with Ryquell Armstead, Jager Gardner and Tyliek Raynor leading the way.
I’d just as well keep Bradley as a linebacker, thank you, and spend these 15 practices between now and Villanova mastering the art of disrupting those pesky crossing patterns over the middle.
That’s one side of the “position flexibility” argument. The other side, of course, is that all of the offensive linemen should be able to play any position—with the exception of tight end—along the line and the defensive ends should be able to play tackle and vice versa.
Now that would be valuable practice time well-spent.
When it comes to defensive players on the offensive side of the ball, the term “diminishing returns” comes to mind. Same way for offensive players on the other side. Matt Rhule believed in a limited amount of flexibility, playing Nick Sharga at both fullback and linebacker in 2015 and 2016. In the 2015 win (34-12) over Memphis, Sharga was easily the best defensive player that day on a field that included the national defensive player of the year (Tyler Matakevich). Sharga not getting extended looks at linebacker last year was a waste of talent, especially considering OC Dave Patenaude’s aversion to using a fullback.
This year, though, the roster does not need flexibility, at least not the cross-side-of-the-ball flexibility Collins advocates.
The Owls also appear set at wide receiver with the injured Broderick Yancy returning to practice later this week to join a talented and experienced group that includes Isaiah Wright and Ventell Byrant. That mollifies the loss of wide receiver Marshall Ellick, who transferred to Stony Brook.
Bradley isn’t the only defensive guy being used on offense but it doesn’t appear to make sense when he’s missing valuable reps on defense doing something he is unlikely to do during the regular season.
Hopefully, Collins knows what he’s doing but, last year, Keith Kirkwood was talked about as a defensive end and Nick Sharga as a linebacker and neither played much at their secondary positions.
Position flexibility might be a tenant of Collins’ philosophy but winning football games should be the landlord.
Friday: Thoughts From Season Ticket Night
Monday: Dodging Bullets
Wednesday: Taking Shots