Staff hires: Almost done, and a mixed bag

The first month of the Stan Drayton stewardship of the Temple University football program has gone according to plan.

It’s his plan, not the plan of many Temple football fans, and that’s his prerogative because he will ultimately bear the blame or the applause.

Still, an objective observer can still step back and judge.

Getting good vibes out of the strength hires, one of whom looks a little like former great Owl lineman Kevin Jones.

If that observer says it’s a mixed bag, it probably will be closer to the truth than otherwise.

While the Villanova defense under Ola Adams was a formidable one against the opponents it played, no one can say that any defense under the other defensive coordinator, D.J. Eliot, was ever formidable. Another guy with Texas in his past (an assistant at Texas State and Houston), Eliot was never a part of a defense that shut out anyone. (For comparison, former Temple DC Chuck Heater recorded consecutive shutouts in the 2011 season for the Owls.)

In fact, according to college football guru Pete Thamel, Eliot’s main claim to fame was “simulated pressures” when he was DC at both Colorado and Kansas. Simulated pressures are simply this: A lot of linebackers and safeties running up to the line at the point of attack, then backing off, and allowing the quarterback a good five to six seconds to survey the field and pick out an open receiver.

That’s not going to work with Temple fans, who were used to a more attacking style of defense in consecutive 10-win seasons under head coach Matt Rhule and DC Phil Snow. In those days, simulated pressures were actual pressures and the bad guy’s quarterback ended up on his ass more often than not.

That’s Temple football. That’s Temple TUFF.

Adams is more in sync with the Rhule/Snow way of doing things so it should be interesting to see what happens when he gets in the same room with complete stranger Eliot. Since the talented Adams is listed as a “co-DC” with the sole job going to the less accomplished Eliot, that could be a problem.

I’ve thought about it and I’m not Drayton.

Just imagine late August, 2022……

D.J. Eliot gave up 36 points a game as a DC at two Power 5 schools.

Eliot: “Luca Diamont is the Duke starting quarterback. Here’s how we’re going to attack him: Run a couple of safeties and linebackers at him and then back off at the last minute, putting everyone in coverage and trying to confuse him.”

Adams: “How about putting the m-fer on his ass by sending more players than they can block, knocking that thing out of his hand and having one of own guys taking it to the house?”

Eliot: “Too risky.”

Adams: “C’mon, man. Former Temple coach Bruce Arians said it best: No risky, no bisky.”

Eliot: “We never did that at Kansas and Colorado.”

Adams: “That’s why you guys never won shit.”

Eliot: “That’s why you were at Villanova and I was at Kansas and Colorado.”

Adams: “You want to go? Let’s go. You and me on 10th Street. If I win, we blitz the hell out of Duke. If you win, we sit back and play prevent.”

Eliot: “Stan, help me out here… “

Is that the kind of headache Drayton wants right away?

I don’t think so but I don’t know if he has thought this dynamic out. If the two start arguing in the coach’s room at the E-O, I hope Drayton puts his foot down.

Does Drayton have the gonads to get rid of Eliot if he brings that 36 ppg career average as a DC to Temple and give the job completely to Adams, whose Villanova defenses allowed 15.7 ppg? We will see.

That’s the part of the bag with holes in it.

Ola Adams was a key member of the Villanova defensive staff, holding Geoff Collins to 17 points.

Now to the more sturdy part of this mixed bag.

The additions of Chris Wiesehan (offensive line) and Adam Schier (special teams) certainly balance the bag. Wiesehan was credited with the development with two of the best centers in Temple history (Kyle Friend and Matt Hennessy) and a terrific versatile guard/center in Vince Picozzi. Schier made the Rutgers’ special teams the best of the Scarlet Knights’ three units and, if the Owls start blocking kicks and returning them to the house like they used to in the pre-Rod Carey days, it’s a home run hire. Vince wants to come back and let’s hope Chris brings him back.

On the plus side of this mixed bag also are the strength coaches, Chris Fenelon (Ohio State), Andrew Broocks and Bruce Johnson. Carey’s strength coach is still being investigated for mental and physical abuse of players by an internal Temple probe. Hopefully, these new guys earn the trust and love of the Temple players, who were completely pushed around in a 3-9 season.

If any FBS program needed a complete overall of its strength department, it was Temple.

So far, the support staff looks as Texas-centric as the Carey staff looked NIU-centric. On-field guys like Preston Brown and Wiesehan might be bones to throw to Temple fans, as Carey did when he initially kept Fran Brown, Gabe Infante, Ed Foley and Adam DiMichele. Everett Withers, who will be off the field, was a former head coach at Texas State. Another off-the-field employee, Tory Teykl, was at both Houston and Texas. Johnson was an assistant strength coach at Texas from 2001-2007. My guess is that there will be more hires with some experience in Texas, which is a vastly different experience than Temple.

When Carey got rid of the three Temple guys to keep the NIU guys, all doubt about Carey’s future here was removed.

Drayton needs to lean on the Temple guys to turn Temple around. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Monday: The Jimmies



7 thoughts on “Staff hires: Almost done, and a mixed bag

  1. Who on the staff beyond Drayton coached at Texas? I see one of the the strength coaches did years ago.

  2. Mike,

    Other than he was available, what appeal does DJ Elliot have as DC? Drayton has faced his defenses multiple times in the past two years, so does he know something that the numbers don’t show?

    • I’ve delved into his numbers everywhere. They are horrible. I subscribe to the Bill Parcells Rule: “You are what your record says you are.” Sad. Chuck Heater was/is available. Eliot must’ve been able to bullbleep his way through interviews.

  3. A difference between Carey’s staff and the current one is that Carey brought his whole staff from his previous school with him apparently without even considering other candidates. I think the four Temple holdovers were forced on him as a condition of his getting the job. He promptly marginalized them and drove three of them away. Drayton has assembled a staff from many schools, although I agree with you that Eliot is a real head scratcher.

  4. Being silly: Maybe they have Eliot there to tell them what not to do? “Whatever he says, do the opposite.”

  5. Blue is gonna be catching passes at VA Tech from now on.

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