Forget about baseball for a moment since just about all of the ratings indicate much of America has, even in the postseason.
This is football season and there are two games on nationally Thursday night.
One is an NFL game.
The other is Temple football. Believe it or not, a large swath of the country doesn’t care much for the NFL but instead prefers college football and, for those folks, this is Temple’s chance to shine.
Maybe one or two times a year the university has a chance to put its front porch on the national stage without significant competition and one of them is Thursday (8 p.m., ESPN) at East Carolina. They won’t be seeing Temple as a chemistry class or a library or a band, but Temple as a football team.
So logic follows that maybe the Owls should put their best feet forward.
Or at least the best two feet they have: Isaiah Wright.
If there’s a common thread to the statements that Matt Rhule, Geoff Collins and Rod Carey have made about any Temple football player it’s various forms of this quote:
“We have to find a way to get the ball more to Isaiah Wright.”
As a freshman under Rhule, Wright caught 8 passes for 74 yards with zero touchdowns but was more involved as a runner by carrying the ball 42 times for 232 yards, including a touchdown at Tulane.
As a sophomore under Collins, Wright had 46 receptions for 668 yards and four touchdowns and 25 carries for 188 yards and another touchdown. Those numbers regressed to 33 catches for 368 yards and three touchdowns and 19 carries for 84 yards a year ago.
This year: Wright has 22 receptions for 201 yards and three touchdowns but just four carries for 42 yards.
What do those statistics tell you?
When the guy’s number is called, he delivers but his number has not been called nearly enough–particularly on running plays. This is a coaching problem, not a player problem, and has been for some time. Carey isn’t going to run Wright out of the Wildcat (and that makes sense because he doesn’t throw from it) but more jet sweeps after faking inside to Re’Mahn Davis could be just what the doctor ordered. The film shows a lot of movement–mostly with wide receiver Jadan Blue–on running plays, but not a whole lot of use with a handoff off that movement. Get Wright involved on a few of those jet sweeps and chances are everything else opens up.
No better time than Thursday when the university is putting its best figurative foot forward on potentially the biggest stage of the year to put its best literal two feet forward.
Friday: Game Analysis