Dear Rod: Flexibility Wouldn’t Hurt


Editor’s Note: As we approach signing day, time to wrap up a couple of concerns in an open letter to the coach.

Dear Rod,

Congratulations on a nice first season, but it could have been a lot better had just a few things been cleaned up.

Eight wins were just about what many expected–I predicted nine–but not in my wildest dreams did I believe these players would have been beaten 42-21, 63-21 and 55-13 by anyone.

There should be a plan to fix that.

Will the real Bernard Pierce please stand up?

We were warned by the Northern Illinois fans that, while you were a good coach, you were a little bit stubborn and I think a lot of that was revealed in the blowouts. Most of these guys were recruited for a power running game, not a read-option spread, and I was wrong to assume that you would have adjusted to your talent and not made your talent adjust to the coaches.

To me, good coaches don’t try to force-feed their system onto a group better suited for another system and you might want to consider that approach next season. Anthony Russo is a much better passer when the running game is established first without being burdened by deciding to run or pass. Plenty of ways to fix that. Insert a fullback (Tavon Ruley?) and put the tight ends in motion and bring more blockers to the point of attack that there are defenders. That would help spring Ray Davis for some big early runs.

Temple’s had great running backs in the past like Bernard Pierce, Jahad Thomas, and Ryquell Armstead because it established the run with a culture of toughness on the offensive line and often the use of a fullback to help run interference for that talent.

Ray Davis can be every bit as good as those guys but he needs help.

Once the run is established, the linebackers and the safeties inch closer to the line of scrimmage and play-action–not read option–is the way to defeat that kind of defense. A deft fake by Russo to Davis means that both Jadan Blue and Brandon Mack will be running so free through the secondary that Russo won’t know which one to pick out.


Not much can be accomplished by asking Russo to run a read option. I know that’s the system you were familiar with at NIU with Jordan Lynch but Russo is a lot closer to Tom Brady in skill set than he is to Lynch and you don’t see Bill Belichick asking Brady to run the read-option. Great coaches find a scheme that fits their talent at hand, not the talent they want.

Running the ball shortens the game, chews up the clock and helps keep the defense off the field and you’ll find that being on the short end of scores like 62-21, 42-21 and 55-13 don’t happen nearly as much with that approach.

All of these concepts can be implemented by the spring as well as putting someone in charge of special teams and deciding whether you want to block kicks or return them or do both. Doing nothing on special teams, which was Temple in 2019, should no longer be an option.

Temple football is a great running game, special teams, and defense but it all starts with a great running game. It’ll be four more years of recruiting before you can get the players who can run your stuff.

Meanwhile, I think most Temple fans would like to see a little more flexibility in the thinking in the coaches’ room in 2020 than we saw last fall.

That might be as important as anything that happens on the practice field before the ball is kicked off in Miami.

Friday: Signing Day


22 thoughts on “Dear Rod: Flexibility Wouldn’t Hurt

  1. Well, we’ll find out first game who got the better deal for a coach, TU or Miami. Nice summary Mike, especially the insight that it will take Carey 3-4 seasons to get the players he needs for his preferred O and that he should be more flexible until then. The changes with the special team play was simply an abomination tho.

    • Unfortunately, the game will not be a test of which school’s coach is best because the difference in talent is as wide as the Grand Canyon. If TU keeps the game close, that’s a win for Carey. With the former Houston QB behind a line composed of four and five star linemen and giving him four and five star ends and backs to work with that’s all TU can hope for. Diaz is a horrible coach but he will be better this season and the Owls will be his first victim because of his superior talent.

  2. Pretty much the same “letter” you send Collins. What is it with these coaches?

  3. Behind every Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman is a Larry Allen. Actually Larry was in front of them, but you get the picture. Big, strong lineman create gaping seams through which small RB’s run and ole raging bulls allowing slow QB’s time to throw downfield. Unless Temple Tokyo recruits several Yokozuna Sumo wrestlers this spring, I don’t think I’ll see a successful play option offense next year.

  4. Was surprised to read in an article on about the Senior Bowl roster and what it says for the Eagles, that Hennessy was told to return for his 4th year by pro ready assessors. Hope the kid didn’t make a mistake.

    • Hennessy had a great Senior Week, and capped it off with a strong game day performance. He will be a second round pick.

      The eagles have a long standing bias against Temple and TUFB players.

      • kJ,

        The Eagles drafted Raheem Brock and screwed they up. They also blew a second rd pick on Jaquan Jarrett. Perhaps they just don’t know what they’re doing more so than a bias.

  5. Noted on today’s that Centenio has signed with Daz at Colorado St. Ughhhh, why would he want to go there? Article said relationship with Booth was the key, but gee whiz………..

    • Probably knows he’s going to be running the ball a lot. I cringed when he missed a wide open Branden Mack by 10 yards with us down 17-6 against UNC. Got to hit that pass.

    • John , good point!

    • These 2 recruits are at least 2 years away. Beatty was considered a better prospect

      • The NCAA is in dire need of calibration. The intent and rules on redshirting and the transfer portal are at odds.

        Why should Redshirts be allowed to enter the portal? Does it make sense to redshirt a potential star and watch him transfer three years later?

        Coaches today should redshirt only as a last option, i.e., injury. Don’t recruit kids you won’t play as freshmen. AG played freshmen, even Collins preferred playing freshmen.

      • The original concept of “red shirting” was for student athlete’s that were challenged transitioning to the rigors of college prowess in the classroom which in theory sounds great. Bottom line, it lengthens eligibility! The only difference, they do not compete on game day. That said, there are too many loopholes in the NCAA which in IMHO is out of control! And, in need of house cleaning…

  6. I am happy knowing we were there for the several years of Temple Football greatness.
    I Fear It may never come back due to several reasons :
    Coaches, Portals, AD Heads and TU BOT.
    This is a mix of so many factors to overcome….
    But we had great fun then.
    We now return to a max .500 season, just like end of Big East , just like MAC years.
    WE will still come to games, but expectation will be lowered,, like hope for the ‘good game and keep it close’.

    Franklin Field, now and again after tailgates at the Linc ? Bad.
    We saw many families tailgating, having fun, cookouts, football toss, all that.

    Coach Carey, show me I am wrong and just a doubter with no faith.

    • Heard from a good source that a deal for the Linc will be signed soon. One worry gone.

      • Lurie is shrewd and insensate. Temple BoT is stupid and shortsighted. The deal will lock TUFB into a prolonged period of deficit spending.

        Is there another program in worse financial straights?

        It should be illegal for private organizations or persons to rip-off non-profit public institutions.

        Is this the behavior that makes America great? How can I manipulate the system for my own personal gain? We have gone off the moral rails.

      • KJ, your comments are insightful & spot on. Is the AD (Kraft) accountable for such deals and for care-taking our donations to the 19 programs as he see’s fit? Our programs should not be bottomless pits and our hard earned donations be squander away by poor managers!

  7. Ed Foley back with Coach Rhule at Carolina. Special teams coach.

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