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