5 Priorities for Temple spring ball


At the start of every spring practice, Bruce Arians used to give a little speech to the Temple players.

It always closed with, in a strange Southern accent for a York, Pa. boy: “Get your work done.”

Spring ball at Temple, which begins today, has changed a lot since Arians. The rock-strewn practice field is now the Pavilion. Geasey Field is waiting for a stadium that will probably never arrive.

Back then, the work pretty much started on the first day of spring ball. Today, it’s just a continuation of a 365-day deal. Just because the NCAA insists on a spring ball structure that includes 15 organized practices, that doesn’t mean nothing gets done on the other days. The work continues, not starts, today, but should be at least five points of emphasis near the top of new head coach Rod Carey’s list (in no particular order):


Return to Normalcy 

That means structured depth charts, not vague “above-the-line’ concepts. Since Carey is starting with a clean slate, everybody else does, too, so don’t expect a full depth chart until after the spring game. It also probably means less D.J. playing and band participation while the work is getting done.

Restoring Depth 

Carey has said the difference between being a new coach at Temple and elsewhere is that a new coach elsewhere has to start from scratch with a bad football team. At Temple, this new coach inherits a good football team across those two first-team depth charts. One of the challenges this year, is finding depth, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. It’s great to have players like Zack Mesday, Karamo Dioubate, Dan Archibong and Dana Levine returning along the defensive line, but it’s time to identify their replacements. The same can be said for the offensive line.


Finding a Running Back 

Unless you count current wide receiver Isaiah Wright, a one-time running back No. 3 on the depth chart under Matt Rhule, there is no Ryquell Armstead, Jahad Thomas or Bernard Pierce-level talent on this roster. That’s why you have you have to count Wright since the Owls did not go out and get a big-time JUCO or grad transfer there. Will Carey have the courage to experiment with Wright back there? Having an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver (Sean Ryan, Branden Mack, Jadan Blue, Freddie Johnson, and Randall Jones) should buy a lot of courage. Blue is particularly interesting because he was by far the star of the spring game last year and had to sit out the fall.


Fixing the Offense 

Right at the top of winning football is protecting your quarterback and getting to the bad guy’s quarterback. Offensively, Dave Patenaude thought the best way to protect a quarterback with an NFL-level skill set was telling Anthony Russo to slide. The Owls will have to do much better than that this year and take a page out of Bill Belichick’s book and abandon the RPO offense. Belichick won a championship by keeping his prototypical NFL skill set quarterback upright with an effective running game that set up all sorts of interesting play-action options downfield and that is the way the Temple personnel is set up.

Sound Defensive Concepts

Mayhem was promised by the last coaching staff but rarely delivered. Geoff Collins’ schemes often gambled and produced some effective takeaway stats, but also factored into games where the Owls gave up 57, 52 and 45 points–all losses. In a halftime basketball interview with Harry Donahue, Carey said he puts a premium on a defense that keeps the bad guys out of the end zone even if that means fewer turnovers.

That sounds like a plan. The work doesn’t begin today but continues in a more structured environment.

Bruce Arians would probably approve of the approach.

Thursday: Numbers Guessing



6 thoughts on “5 Priorities for Temple spring ball

  1. Spring Football.
    #1: Will the best RB on the team start against Bucknell? Hint- it is not Gardner.
    #2: Will the HC and the rest of the coaching staff listen to Foley? Hint-starters must play on Special Teams.
    #3: Will Russo stop throwing the ball to the other team? Hint-Td to Int ratio is IMPORTANT!!!!

    • 1) Wright (hopefully) 2) Key Starters played on NIU special teams; 3) He wasn’t trying to throw the ball to the bad guys, more of a victim of Patenaude’s ill-advised attack that put a premium on quick decisions instead of max protection with play action.

  2. Mike, did you listen to the interview with Coach Carey where he said they were bringing the NIU offense to Temple including their RPOs?

    • No. I listened to only two Carey interviews, both with Harry Donahue at halftime of hoop games. First, just after he was hired and, second, at a more recent home game (maybe Tulsa, can’t remember) where he talked about what he would do with single digits. Both by accident. The first while driving in my car, the second while on the rowing machine at the gym. Big critic of Harry’s play-by-play, but both were great interviews. He didn’t mention RPOs but he said he’s a big fan of a base defense with sound principles and not a lot of moving parts. If he does implement RPOs, I hope he takes a look at the personnel and doesn’t go all in. RPOs are great when you have a Murray; not so great when you have a David Jones-type, which I believe Russo is.

  3. Quote of Carey in PHilly.com article concerning his philosophy:
    Run the ball
    Stop the run
    Play great on special teams

    Looks good to me if he means it.

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