Someone in the coaching office conference room is a yellow legal pad with a list of goals for spring practice that begins tomorrow.
Right now, we don’t know what’s on it or how many bullet points need to be covered but we hope it includes this five items, in no order of importance:
Generating a Pass Rush. With Quincy Roche on one end and Gregory Rousseau at the other end, we know that Miami is going to have one of the best edge rushing games in the country. It would be nice if the Owls could counter with an impressive one of their own in the opener. Hmm. Roche and Rousseau vs. who? Right now, Nickolos Madourie and Arnold Ebiketie/Manny Walker look like the starters with not much behind them. Owls are pretty set up the middle with Dan Archibong, Kris Banks and Ifianyi Maijeh. Maybe moving Archibong to his first position at Temple, end, will help.
Game planning for Miami. With that kind of opening opponent looming, it’s never to early to have a game plan for them. Better now to design quick passes ,wraparound draws, and screens to mitigate that pass rush and catch the Hurricanes flat-flooted.
Establishing the run. What worked at NIU (err, RPO) does not necessarily work at Temple. Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins recruited this team to establish the run and make big plays off play-action fakes and Rod Carey should think long and hard about developing an approach suited to the personnel already here. Ray Davis is probably the second-best running back in the league (only behind Memphis Kenneth Gainswell) and should be more featured in this offense.
Fixing special teams. Carey will tell you that the special teams were not a disaster last year, but Temple fans have eyes and they have ears. From what we saw, they were a disaster. Temple needs to improve both the return and kicking aspects of special teams, although the coverage was passable. Will Mobley is a reliable short-range kicker but do you trust him when you need a 50-yarder to win and the game is tied, 14-14? Temple had the special teams’ player of the year, Isaiah Wright, in 2018 and turned him into a fair-catch artist in 2019. That’s a head-scratcher. Temple needs to make the punt return an offensive play again.
Clock management. If the coaching staff is honest watching film from 55-13, 45-21 and 63-21 losses, they were the direct result of stopping the clock on incomplete passes, giving teams with far greater speed a lot more plays to do damage. In the past, particularly under Matt Rhule and Al Golden, the Temple offensive philosophy has been to chew up the clock with a running game and extend the game into the fourth quarter. That worked pretty well with Temple TUFF players. Clock management and an effective running game go hand in hand and the earlier this staff realizes that, the better the chances to avoid those kind of blowouts in 2020.
Friday: The Case for Cherry and White