The Case for the Defense: Keep hope alive

If this win doesn’t give you hope for the Temple defense, nothing will.

Sometimes reading through the bios of Temple coaches, both past and present, provides some useful clues for anyone trying to look into a crystal ball and predict the future.

Having had a course in sports information at Temple to get some insight into the guys I was going to be dealing with for the next several decades in sports journalism, I found out a big part of their job is to put lipstick on a pig.

Maybe D.J. Eliot gets his first career shutout at Duke. We can only hope.

There were two major defensive coaching hires made by Stan Drayton, one I liked and one I didn’t, and the guy I liked went off to the Denver Broncos on Wednesday, and the one I didn’t remains here.

Maybe the silver lining in this development is that the successful guy, co-DC Ola Adams, won’t have to butt heads in the coaching room with the unsuccessful guy, DC D.J. Eliot. Let’s put it this way: If Eliot went to Denver and Adams was elevated to sole DC, I might be more optimistic about the future.

That didn’t happen, though.

Now the show is all Eliot’s. Soon we will find out if it’s a long-running hit or a circus. Logic doesn’t look good but, as the above video indicates, at Temple there is always hope.

Hope doesn’t get me to a bowl game.

So to Eliot’s bio I went. Here are some highlights (my comments are in italics, the other is from Temple PR people):
Kansas: In 2020, true freshman cornerback Karon Prunty earned Freshmen All-America honors by after having the most pass breakups of any true freshman in the country. Additionally, Kyron Johnson earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention at outside linebacker, along with Prunty. Up front, redshirt freshman Marcus Harris totaled 7.5 tackles-for-loss, which marked the most by a Kansas freshman since 2012.

Err, nice but who did he shut out and how many points per game did he allow? Kansas lost every game that year and gave up 36.1 points per game. Ugh as in ugly.
Colorado: Eliot led the Buffaloes to one of the best defenses in the Pac 12. The Buffs ranked fourth in the conference in yards allowed per play (5.24), while tying for fourth with 29 sacks. Colorado also ranked third in opponent third-down conversion rate (36.36 percent) and fourth in red zone touchdowns allowed (51.6 percent).

Fourth in yards allowed and fourth in sacks and fourth red zone touchdowns allowed ain’t going to get it done in the AAC. Temple has got to get guys who were first in their conference, not fourth.
Kentucky: Eliot joined the Colorado staff from Kentucky, where he was the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for four seasons (2013-16). He helped coach UK to the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl, the first postseason appearance for Kentucky since 2010. Eliot also helped Kentucky land the 22nd-ranked recruiting class in the nation, marking the first time the Wildcats assembled a Top 25 recruiting class.

In Kentucky’s best season under Eliot, the Wildcats were 7-6 but allowed 42 points to New Mexico State (3-9 that year), 38 points to Mississippi State (6-7), 21 points to Missouri (4-8) and 38 points to the only winning team he beat, Louisville (9-4).

 Those were his most recent stops.

Not exactly, in my mind, the stellar resume I would look for in a defensive coordinator. There’s a lot of “he developed this guy and he developed that guy” in his resume, but I could not find a single team he shut out during his tenure as a defensive coordinator anywhere. For comparison, former Florida and Temple DC Chuck Heater shut out Ball State and Bowling Green in consecutive weeks (not years) for the 2011 Owls.

To me, keeping the bad guys out of your end zone is a prerequisite for being a good defensive coordinator, not “developing guys.” Developing guys for someone else (like the NFL), doesn’t hold the same appeal for me as sacking the quarterback playing against Temple, getting turnovers for Temple and, most important, pitching a shutout against the team Temple is playing that day.

Hell, maybe Adams walked into a room at the E-O and had the same feelings before leaving for Denver. We might never know but now Adams joins Manny Diaz in having the two shortest tenures of any ex-Temple coach.

Maybe this will work out to Eliot’s advantage but hope will have to defeat logic.

It happened for Temple at least once before.

If the 1998 Temple Owls could prove the naysayers wrong in upsetting No. 10 Virginia Tech, maybe Eliot can, too.

Shutting out Duke would almost be as shocking as that win. Maybe more.

Monday: Pressures


8 thoughts on “The Case for the Defense: Keep hope alive

  1. Mike, Thanks for the review of the staff as it develops. Resume’s are certainly a barometer for the persons skills in communication and leadership to the players, and success. Your research into their history was also informative. Not a history of stats and stellar results is a concern. Then it does cycle back to the players, their work ethic, the atmosphere in the EO, and then their results on game day. Seeing a guy like Chuck Heater would have been awesome. A proven coach with success at several stops along his career.
    Yes, its is a wait and see, and hope. As you mentioned before, the atmosphere at the EO must change. We believe it has. Now its work and preparation. Then results.

  2. That game is proof that there is ALWAYS hope for a struggling program. Owls 0-6, 0-26 on the road against Big East teams. Up against a top ten and undefeated VA Tech team IN Blacksburg. Injuries to defensive regulars and using walk-ons and freshmen in their stead. Owls walk away with a huge 28-24 upset win! Obviously, no one at VT could believe what they had just witnessed! Now there’s a perfect example of Temple TUFF! Go Owls!

  3. Not that we want such a lousy recent past to have to compare to, but at least if the new coaching staff can get fewer losses and no blowout losses, it would be an improvement in their first season – but of course we want better than that.

  4. Was there any buyout money for Ola departing? Parting gift?

  5. There are valid reasons Eliot was out of football last year. None of them are good.

  6. Mike,

    Perhaps it’s worth a shout-out and a good luck wish to Al Golden in the SUPER BOWL.

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