The night before every senior day, I look down the list of guys leaving and think “wow, we’re losing this guy and that guy. … how are we going to survive next season?”
This year was different.
You don’t see Bill Belichick
asking Tom Brady to run a read
option and that’s part of the
reason why he’s the greatest coach
in our lifetime and other coaches
are 0-7 in bowl games
I was struck with how few impact players Temple was losing. Sure, there were the linebackers–Shaun Bradley, Chapelle Russell and Sam Franklin–but William Kwenkeu (the defensive MVP of the 2017 Gasparilla Bowl) took a redshirt and Isaiah Graham-Mobley–the best linebacker on the team when he went down for the season–should be fully recovered from his injury. That mitigates the losses at the linebacker position.
Matt Hennessy, the best center in the country, was a redshirt junior as was one of the best pass-rushers in the country, Quincy Roche. The Owls had a pretty good tight end returning on that day in Kenny Yeboah.
The problem with Senior Days in the changing world of college football is that you can’t judge what you are losing and what you are gaining on those days alone. Hennessy and Yeboah won’t be back and neither will Roche, who decided his chances to be drafted would be higher with a Power 5 team than his Temple brothers and entered the portal. Harrison Hand also left early for the NFL draft.
A Power 5 program that recruits four- and five-star players can survive that kind of bleeding of the talent base. Temple cannot.
Two steps forward one Senior Day, three steps back after the season is over. A pretty good argument can be made that the Owls lost more this season with their junior class than their senior one, given the replacements they have at linebacker.
The year 2020 is here but, with the New Year come new challenges. For the Temple staff, it’s replacing the seniors who invariably leave and the surprising number of juniors who leave or left.
With the New Year, whether the Owls can surpass what has been an eight-win season will be determined by how they address special teams, and the quarterback and center positions.
Temple built its reputation in the past on special teams. This year, the Owls did not block kicks nor did they return them. Is the philosophy to do nothing? If so, that needs to be changed from the top down.
At quarterback, the dilemma is simply this. They have one quarterback who can’t run and one quarterback who can’t pass yet they are asking the passer to run and the runner to pass. (Todd Centeio’s miss of a wide-open Branden Mack for an easy touchdown against UNC wasn’t his first of the season.)
Making Vince Picozzi the starting center fixes one spot.
At quarterback, the simple fix is this: Don’t ask the passer to run. Scrap the read option, go with a lot of H-back/tight end blocking motion and design an offense around the passer. Consider using Tayvon Ruley as a blocking fullback who gets an occasional carry. Establish the run first behind Ray Davis, then have explosive downfield plays in the passing game off play-action. Once the run is established, a deft fake to Davis will freeze the linebackers and safeties Temple receivers would be running so free Anthony Russo wouldn’t know which one to pick out. That would make Russo a much more effective quarterback. Bring Centeio in to run the Wildcat and as the short snapper to throw fakes off punts. (Remember when Temple used to fake punts for touchdowns?)
You don’t see Bill Belichick asking Tom Brady to run a read option and that’s part of the reason why he’s the greatest coach in our lifetime and other coaches are 0-7 in bowl games.
Saturday: Four Portals