Two Guys To Be Thankful For This Season

rodster
“Even if I was with the Patriots, I’d be asking Tom Brady to read the option and run every once in a while. Yeah, I know it probably wouldn’t work there, either, but that’s the only offense Mike knows how to run.”

There are plenty of things to be thankful for as Thanksgiving rolls around today. This season flew by and there is at least one more chance to get together with my football friends on Saturday, so there’s one thing.

Maybe a bowl game if it’s in D.C. or NYC as well.

Keeping this post to football, though, I’m thankful for two people this year what I believe is far too much criticism on social media: Our quarterback and head coach.

First the quarterback.

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 9.23.17 AM

Adam DiMichele’s first two full years at Temple were 2006 and 2007

As Temple fans, we can pretty much agree on the following:

Steve Joachim, Henry Burris, P.J. Walker, and Adam DiMichele were great quarterbacks wearing the Cherry and White.

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 9.13.49 AM

Anthony Russo’s first two full seasons at Temple compares favorably with any of the great quarterbacks at the school, even with a full game left in the regular season.

Guess what?

Anthony Russo’s first two years at quarterback–with a full game to go–stacks up with the first two years of any of those above quarterbacks and he still has another year to go, so that’s something to be thankful for.

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 9.12.07 AM

Henry Burris’ first two full years at Temple were 1994 and 1995

I’d love to see Russo run a similar offense to Joachim (the veer), Burris, Walker and DiMichele (NFL-type pro sets) but his stats in variations of the spread have been pretty darn good. Give him a more traditional NFL-type offense than a college one and he would thrive. Nobody asks those NFL quarterbacks to run with the exceptions being the Jacksons and the Wilsons.

To me, the No. 1 stat for a quarterback is wins and losses. Russo was 7-2 last year as a starter (losses to Villanova and Buffalo went to Frank Nutile and the win over UConn to Todd Centeio) and is 7-3 this season and about to finish 8-3. That’s 15-5 and only Joachim, the Maxwell Award winner as a national college football player of the year (1974) was better in his two seasons (17-3).

No other quarterback was close in modern Temple history and that’s pretty rarified air.

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 10.35.50 PM

Steve Joachim’s first two (and only) seasons at Temple were 1973 and 1974. Surprisingly, he had a much better passer rating at Penn State (162.5) than he did at Temple (141.7).

The next most important stat is touchdown/interception ratio and Russo improved on his 14/14 line with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season.

In the area of cold statistics, Russo completed 418 passes in 721 attempts for 5,049 yards with 33 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. Compare that to Joachim’s first two seasons (208 completions in 380 attempts, 3,262 yards with 31 touchdowns and 23 interceptions).

Henry Burris and Adam DiMichele could not compete in the area of wins but put up some impressive, albeit, inferior statistics to Russo. Henry, a legend in the CFL, completed 354 passes in 709 attempts for 4,720 yards with the same amount of touchdowns (33) but four more interceptions.  ADM? 273-443, 3,113, 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in his first two full seasons.

P.J. Walker had 20 touchdowns to 8 interceptions in his first season but never had a better TD/INT ratio after that. He did throw for nearly 3,000 yards in each of the years after Rhule ditched the spread option for more of a pro-style attack using a fullback. That led to a championship appearance one year and an outright championship the next. There is still time for Russo to do that but he will need to get some help from Carey in the form of an offense more suited to his passing skills than his running ones.

Screenshot 2019-11-28 at 10.47.40 AM

P.J. Walker went from 20 TDs and 8 INTS to a sophomore slump of 13/15. He threw for nearly 3,000 yards ONLY after Rhule switched to a fullback-oriented play-action passing game in P.J’s final two seasons.

For someone who remembers and cringes thinking about the quarterbacks of the Al Golden Era and before that, I’m glad that Anthony Russo is my quarterback.

Carey has deservedly received some criticism here because he did not tailor his offense to the talents of his players but I’m also glad he’s my head coach for one reason.

Manny Diaz could have been.

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 11.06.53 PM

This was our blog post on the day Temple hired Manny Diaz. We were off only about 348 days.

Diaz lost to a team, FIU, last week that lost to both Tulane (42-14) and FAU (37-7). He lost to a Georgia Tech team that Carey beat 24-2.


I have to laugh at the
criticism of both guys,
Russo and Carey. Guess what?
Jalen Hurt and Nick Saban
are not walking through that
door to quarterback and coach
Temple. If you don’t like
Carey as Temple coach, who
would you have hired instead?
Chris Creighton? Lance Leipold?
I don’t think either would
have done appreciatively
better here.

Despite my criticism of Carey’s blind spot (not running a play-action run-oriented offense to open up passing lanes for Russo), I’m also glad he’s my coach because there is no way Temple beats Georgia Tech, Memphis and Maryland with Diaz as my coach.

I have to laugh at the criticism of both guys, Russo and Carey. Guess what? Jalen Hurt and Nick Saban are not walking through that door to quarterback and coach Temple. If you don’t like Carey as Temple coach, who would you have hired instead? Chris Creighton? Lance Leipold? I don’t think either would have done appreciatively better here.

To me, if Carey had run a pro set with a fullback and two tight ends and established the running game against Cincy, Russo would have had plenty of time to find receivers on play-action fakes and thrown four touchdown passes in a 40-15 win instead of a 15-13 loss. Scoring points on Cincy with the talent Temple has on offense (Russo, Ray Davis, Jager Gardner, Jadan Blue, Isaiah Wright, Branden Mack, Kenny Yeboah, etc.) should not have been that hard. The system has to be designed around the talent and this system does not do that. That’s what I believe now and that’s what I believed after Matt Rhule’s first two years of doing the same exact thing before Matt adopted our suggestions in Year Three. (Matt admitted to me in a phone call that he read this blog the entire year he was an assistant at the New York Giants. I doubt he stopped once he became Temple head coach.)

Maybe Carey will have a similar Ephinany after his first year like Rhule did after his second. I think Rhule was more pliable but I hope Carey surprises me.

Is there room for improvement for both coach and player?

Yes.

That’s why next year is an important one for both and a major reason we should give thanks today and be excited about the future.

Saturday: Two Proper Sendoffs

Sunday: Game Analysis

20 thoughts on “Two Guys To Be Thankful For This Season

  1. I give thanks for this blog

    Thank you Mike

  2. Happy Thanksgiving. Russo plays at the next level if he steps up in the pocket and legs out an occasional big first down. His arm is accurate and he’s not getting picked. His receivers drop too many on the numbers,

    • They dropped three-straight perfect passes at Buffalo on third down that would have been first downs. Easy catches, too, not well-contested. Got to think that game would have been a lot closer if those had been caught, not to mention the 9 drops at SMU.

  3. I give thanks to Roche. He gets the turkey wishbone this year.

    And I don’t know why, but I can’t give thanks for Carey yet. Something just doesn’t feel right about him. And Mike, if we set up a “Go Fund Me” page and send you out to Vegas to place $1 million on whether Russo is genuinely an NFL worthy QB, are you placing that bet? Something seems off with him this season and i wonder if it’s Carey. Or maybe it’s how he has to contend with the revolving door of him, then Centeio, then he’s back in, then Centeio. What QB genuinely thrives when their flow is shunted?

    Centeio is worthless in my book. They put him in for the run option, which he now rarely takes. Without using his feet, he’s certainly no better than Russo.

    In the words of Morty Seinfeld “Enough with the Centeio!”

    • I think Russo can make all the throws an NFL quarterback can make. We as Temple fans seem to be hypercritical of the few he does miss yet, when I see all of these NFL quarterbacks on Sundays and Thursdays, they miss quite a few as well (see that short out that Dak missed Elliot by yesterday). Asking him to make a quick decision to run or hand off to a back is stupid so that’s on the CEO (Carey). Do you see Belichick asking Brady to do that? Is Stafford asked to do that? Is Matt Ryan asked to do that? No. Nor should Russo whose 100 percent concentration should be on making completions and this offense is not conducive to it. Change the offense, not the QB.

    • I am going to agree with you there Mr. Owl. I know Mike and John like this coach I don’t I don’t think this guy would’ve got another job if it wasn’t for Temple and They wanted him out of NI .

  4. QB Russo should be compared to a Ben Roethlisberger type QB.
    To me they appear to have similar build and style, only the one time MAC QB has a much better performance level.
    We plan to be there for the sat UCONN Finale tomorrow late afternoon.
    UCONN should lay down like a starved mutt with no will, that’s my prediction.
    Now IF TU falters again, then UCONN will fight like hell for the win.

  5. I am very concerned about Coach Carey. Mike, I know you don’t pay much attention to Temple basketball, but this hire reminds me of when Temple hired Fran Dunphy. He had been a moderately successful coach at a lower level league. He brought all his assistants with him. He had his way of doing things, in his case playing seniors over more talented underclassmen because they had earned the right to play. He condemned Temple to mediocre basketball. His staff had no experience recruiting at an AAC level and the results showed it. Now Carey brings all his assistants with him. His assistants have no experience recruiting at an AAC level, and there is no evidence they can. He has his own way of doing things, in his case, having no special teams coordinator actually responsible for the special teams. Without even getting into the offense and the play calling, I fear we are headed into the same type of mediocre seasons that Dunphy brought to Temple basketball.

  6. Nice piece Mike. Two points. Russo currently is not an NFL qb. The NFL today requires that the qb have the ability to run the ball and if he cannot, the ability to avoid the rush. Russo simply does not run and has little pocket awareness or the foot work to evade the rushers. He’s a statue back there unlike Roethlisberger or Marino who could make a play despite the rush necasue they could dance like Fred Astaire. Second, while I’m glad TU hired Carey versus a coordinator with no head coaching experience, I am delaying from forming an opinion because of his lack of foresight to either run an offense that fits Russo’s skills or put in a qb who had an ability to run the read pass option efficiently. Carey is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole with Russo just like the 76ers with Ben Simmons and their belief that they can win with a point guard who shoots worse than an AAU 8th grader. It’s simply nonsensical on both accounts and in Russo’s case it hurts him personally and the team in general. If he does not rectify this next season, then TU has real problems. I will not be able to stomach another year of running an offense with a QB who cannot run it. Frankly, I am upset that there hasn’t been more passing after the initial interaction with the running back. Overall, Carey earns a B- this season, which is pretty good given the recruiting ratings of the kids on the team.

    • Bingo John.

      don’t have to run much, just be ‘athletic’ enough to make a play. QBs today must have athletic ability beyond the skill to make all the throws.

    • You’re giving this guy a b I disagree with you John all the way this guy gets an F . Are you watching with your eyes open .

      • Fjones: B- not a B. Eight wins is nothing to be mad about and requires more than an average grade of C. Hell, the Owls had 19 wins total for the decade of the 90’s.

      • How many people picked Temple to get 8 wins before the season? The Vegas line was 6 and that was the easiest money I’ve ever made. Only found one prediction online (and it was a Youtube video) from someone other than a Temple fan who predicted 8 wins. The question that hasn’t been answered that I asked earlier was if not Carey, then who? Don’t tell me Manny Diaz or Geoff Collins who would have struggled to 6 with this squad. Really feel we win 4 if we had Diaz. Maybe 7 (at the most) with Collins/Patenaude.

  7. I would be much harder on Carey if not for the o-line injuries we saw. We had talent and experience but not depth and we saw some stalwarts get banged up. With everybody healthy I’d say we should just bully teams up front, but what we’ve seen might be coach recognizing that he’s got a couple star receivers and a qb with a cannon, and trying to see if he can make the best of it.
    A couple misses and a couple overthrows can be the difference between a magical season and a storied season and I think that’s really what’s happened for us.
    I’d like to see us draw a bowl against a “p5” team and send our seniors off with a nice W. I’ll be happy with that on my Christmas leave.

  8. Thankful for this blog as well. We should really try to grab Rutgers RB Raheem Blackshear from the portal. Philly guy that lit up defenses given some space.

  9. What makes a great coach? astute in X’s and O’s, charismatic, great teacher, mentor, with the ability to recruit Jimmy’s and Joe’s. Let’s take a look at past and present coaches on their ability to recruit.

    AG: A-. Would be A+ if he had snagged a gamer at QB. Recruited a complete teams every year

    Daz: C. Personality of a wet towel

    MR: A.

    Collins: C. snake oil traveling salesman

    Carey: More like Fran Dunphy. Owns a flip phone, doesn’t tweet, txt, or communicate w/18 yr olds. Just a decent honest man stuck in the 80s.

    • John , this is not the 90s this is Temple football today . Special-teams bad coaching , receivers don’t catch balls bad coaching , offense doesn’t score enough points bad coaching . Memphis one loss to Temple , not happy with eight wins and your coach ..

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