Temple football: The Known and Unknown

Whatever happens in the 2021 football season, we already know something about it.

The paradigm is about to shift for Temple football and that’s out of necessity: From the Known to the Unknown.

Lancine Turay

When John Chaney was the legendary Hall of Fame coach of the basketball, he liked to talk about the known and the unknown. He tailored his game plans to the known.

They were pretty simple. On defense, he shifted his famed 2-3 matchup zone to overplay the bad guy’s best one or two players and took his chances on lesser talented players to hurt him.

On offense, I sat behind him in a game where Temple’s three best players were Rick Brunson, Eddie Jones and Aaron McKie. He called time out and yelled at the other guys on the team when they were missing shots: “From now on, I only want Brunson, Eddie and McKie to shoot the ball. Everybody else pass.”

There were a few expletives deleted from that conversation, but you get the idea.

If Chaney lost, he lost knowing that he had what for him was a good plan.

Now, by necessity, Temple head coach Rod Carey will have to develop his own plan.

Getting four-star players in from Power 5 schools might work for Temple football now but, what is known, that approach has not worked so far. In fairness, it’s never been tried at 10th and Diamond before.

The Temple football paradigm pretty much for the last decade has been to recruit as many two- and three-star players and coach them up into five stars. Haason Reddick, Tyler Matakevich, Muhammed Wilkerson and Matt Hennessey pretty much fit that profile because by the time they left, were coached up into five stars. Matakevich was the consensus national defensive player of the year in 2015 and Wilkerson and Reddick were first-round NFL picks. Hennessey was a second-rounder but you rarely find centers drafted into the first round.

North Carolina sent Temple 2 players last week.

The formula worked. Prior to the Memphis game of the 2020 season, Temple had more regular-season AAC wins than any team of the league’s championship era. After that loss, Memphis caught up to Temple (31-11).

It’s been downhill ever since.

Portal departures necessitated the paradigm shift from the known to unknown.

The marquee get of 2021 so is Florida running back transfer Iverson Clement, who was a four-star out of Rancocas Valley. They already added Illinois transfer Ra’Von Bonner at that position in December to go along with quarterback Duece Mathis. If Clement and Mathis start, it will be the first time in Temple history that the Owls will start two four-stars in the offensive backfield. It’s worth noting that it will mean something only if they play like four stars. Let’s see. Penn State quarterback transfer Kevin Newsome was the last four-star to come to Temple. He never saw the field.

The tradeoff is simply this: Temple is bringing in more four-star talent than ever before with the recent additions of two defensive linemen from North Carolina (Xach Gill, a 6-5, 290-pound tackle and Lancine Turay, who is 6-6, 280). Turay is a little more versatile since he can play inside or outside and you’ve got to like a 6-6 pass rusher with a decent vertical leap.

In my gameday program of the Dec. 27, 2019 Military Bowl, Gill was listed as senior Jason Strowbridge’s backup in the 55-13 win over Temple. He had one solo tackle to Strowbridge’s three but both underperformed the best name on that team, Storm Duck, who had five tackles, four solos and two for losses.

It appears that the Owls have at least offset the losses on the line of tackles, Khris Banks, Ifeanyi Meijeh (portal) and Dan Archibong (NFL draft) and are hoping Will Rodgers and Manny Walker emerge as effective edge rushers now that Arnold Ebiketie has transferred to Penn State.

Still, there is more work to do.

The Owls need at least one starting-level offensive lineman to replace Vince Picozzi (Colorado State) and another top linebacker to replace Isaiah Graham-Mobley (Boston College). Two of each would be nice, but let’s not get greedy here.

Or maybe do get greedy.

The good news is that there are plenty still available in the portal who, at least on paper, are just as good as those two. Since it’s a buyer’s market this year (and won’t be next), the sooner Temple adds those type of players the better, because other teams with similar needs are scouring those same lists.

12 thoughts on “Temple football: The Known and Unknown

  1. OK maybe Doug Pederson can buyout Rod Carey and stay put. At least TU would let him hire his own coaches!

  2. I think I’m willing to give Carey another season to see where things are going – not that we have a choice of course. But did Carey come to TU and all of a sudden turn into a cold fish who can’t relate to his players and chases the best players away? After all he did pretty well (not great) at NIU with MAC level talent (except for bowl games). This latest running back kid along with 4 star transfers who were not quite starting at P5 schools maybe is a better sign than we think. So let’s see how he puts it all together before we totally condemn him and we’ll be a year closer to finishing his contract too. My biggest wish: TU better not extend his contract unless he produces some good results first – but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do, considering the great deal they offered him initially.

    • I’ve been essentially saying the same thing concerning Carey. This season and its results is not the one on which to judge him. My only concern is the number of kids who left because it tends to show that he lost the team. Nevertheless, TU has had so few players ranked 4 star in their history and now TU has several. That has to speak to Carey’s ability to connect with kids. Also, I’m sure that the kids who are transferring in spoke to current players before deciding to transfer. The players they spoke to likely did not bad mouth the program or Carey because if they had they would not have transferred in.

      • Hopefully they will find Carey a more likeable and gregarious guy than the 87 guys who left the program in the last 2 years. Exaggerating for effect….

  3. I know that I don’t know much, but what concerns me most is that I don’t know what I don’t know. That’s why I need to read TFBF.

  4. we live in hope, that’s all. I always hope for a brighter hope for Owls football.
    But to add, we were there for there greatest achieves of the past 50 years.
    Hey, maybe ex eagle, coach Pederson can take the job?

    • Ed’s talking about Temple firing Carey and Doug taking the Owl job. First, Carey ain’t getting fired (this is Temple, y’all) and Doug is probably getting another NFL job within no more than two weeks.

      • Pederson could end up at Bama. Saban loves hiring guys like him. Pederson cooked his own goose when he tanked the game without first telling his players he was going to do it. It’s one thing when everyone understands what’s happening and quite another when you were giving it all you have and the coach does something that makes it all for nothing. Watching BYU-St. Mary’s Nine white guys and one black. Not making any societal comment just pointing it out.

      • Lurie said he would not be surprised if Pederson ended up as an NFL coach in one week. It’s almost a week and the Jets and Jaguars’ jobs are spoken for … think Doug will take a year off like his DC.

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