On the surface, Temple football looks like a dumpster fire right now.
The Fire Chief allowed his best firefighters to walk for other departments and the hiring process to find capable replacements is going slower than expected.
That’s the surface.
Is there anything underneath?
Well, put it this way. The entire Temple coaching staff was responsible for multiple championships in a FBS league and five wins–presumably with lesser talent–over Big 10 teams against only two losses.
Maybe they know something we don’t know.
For Temple to turn a 1-6 season into a 6-or-better-win season, maybe this is what they are thinking:
One, everyone remains healthy. The first units on offense and defense are fairly impressive yet there are big holes to fill on the offensive line and defensive line but normal attrition for injuries has to be factored into the equation. Look at what happened in the championship year of 2016, for example. When Austin Jones, who had kicked 17-straight successful field goals, went down, Aaron Boumerhi took over that job and did not miss a beat. Averee Robinson got injured at nose tackle and Freddy Booth-Lloyd went in and locked down the Navy fullback in a 34-10 AAC title win. Does Temple have that kind of depth? I don’t see it, but maybe they do.
Two, a renewed emphasis on the running game. With the RPO system, it seems the Owls could never get out of their own way on offense. Temple football has always been establishing the run first, then throwing off fakes to it. If by adding Iverson Clement and Ra’Von Bonner convinces them to establish the run first, then the Owls should be a much more explosive team. Put it this way: If EITHER Clement or Bonner get 1,000 yards and 20 or more touchdowns rushing, Temple wins at least six games. Does this staff have that kind of commitment to the run? Doubt it, but maybe that’s the thinking at the E-O right now.
Three, Duece Mathis in a system that he’s comfortable in, thrives. If Mathis plays like a SEC starter, and starts finding Jadan Blue and Randle Jones for explosive plays in the passing game, the Owls will be hard to stop. Anthony Russo’s best full regular season at Temple was 21 touchdown passes against just 11 interceptions. If, say, Mathis does 22 touchdowns versus 10 interceptions (in other words, just a little better than Russo), the Owls will be successful.
Four, an aggressive approach to special teams. For two years, Rod Carey has been more than content to view the fair catch as a positive special teams’ play. That’s got to end. If the Owls don’t return kicks, they should block them. It’s got to be one or the other. Giving up positive plays on one third of the team never helps but that’s not been this staff’s DNA dating back through their time at NIU.
That’s it. That’s the path to a winning season. Maybe that’s the thought process at the E-O. If it is, it would be a welcome change.
Monday: The Enemy of My Enemy