Summer Camp opened yesterday with all of the media stuff being taken care of on Thursday and, I must admit, while I’m always optimistic about the first day of real practice, the anticipation is on steroids this year.
That’s because, for the first time since the 1970 season, a Temple fan can state unequivocally that a new head coach will not have to learn on the job on Temple’s time and Temple’s dime.
Some of us know what happened the last time those circumstances converged.
Highly successful then ex-Navy head coach Wayne Hardin turned a 4-5-1 Temple team from 1969 into a 7-3 team his first season. In fact, he had six winning seasons in his first seven.
Chances are, Temple fans will sign for that from new head coach Rod Carey now.
The theme of this season so far is less hype, more hope. Gone is the swag and money downs replaced by sound fundamentals and speaking by deeds, not words.
The bar is a little higher for Carey this time but, then again, so is the available talent.
The quote of the day from Temple’s own in-house media day was this from Carey when asked if he thought the Owls could win the AAC: “I wouldn’t bet against them.” Carey also said he is open to using Isaiah Wright as the full-time running back should his other 10 options not work out.
He must be reading this blog. We’ll save you some time, Rod. The other guys are nowhere near the running back Wright is and the Owls are knee-deep in pretty damn good wide receivers. Just put Wright behind Anthony Russo and give him the ball 20 times a game and another few on swing passes out of the backfield and let him work his magic in space. He’s not needed at WR. The Owls have so many good ones that Freddie Johnson was switched to cornerback to give him a better chance to get on the field. Johnson made a lot of great plays as a WR for the Owls last year, including catching a touchdown pass on a fake field goal from backup quarterback Toddy Centeio.
As predicted in this space on March 14, both Wright (2) and Branden Mack (1) and Sam Franklin earned single digits but we thought Zack Mesday and Dan Archibong would also earn the honor. There are more digits to be awarded and, if I were to guess now, Mesday, Archibong, and Russo would be among the leading candidates. Too bad center Matt Hennessey can’t get one as NCAA rules on offensive linemen prohibit it. The versatile Franklin–who can and has played end, linebacker and safety with the Owls–will be a worthy successor to fullbacks Nick Sharga and Rob Ritrovato, wearing the No. 4.
That’s good news because they need to find a way to keep the tough and talented Franklin on the field and, with a plethora of linemen and linebackers, perhaps his best chance to start is at strong safety. There’s a ton of available, proven, talent on both sides of the ball with maybe the only question mark being the depth of both lines.
Injuries could turn a possible 10-win season into an eight-win one but lack of same could push that number to 11. The Owls cannot possibly afford to lose guys like Isaiah Wright, Anthony Russo, Matt Hennessey, Karamo Dioubate and Dan Archibong but an injury to anyone else and they are about two-deep even below the first team.
Guess what, though?
Every team in the AAC can say that and one, UCF, already had its devastating season-ending injury to quarterback McKenzie Milton, a Heisman candidate if this league ever had one. They are trying to replace him with Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush and it might not be good enough.
The door is wide open for the Owls to walk through and, in Carey, they have a guy who has won multiple FBS championships and not a guy who is fumbling and stumbling around trying to figure out how to be a head coach like so many recent years.
That’s optimism on steroids.
Monday: 5 Goals to Accomplish This Month