Russo’s Temple legacy: A winner

If anything, the succession of four quarterbacks who tried to replace Russo showed how much he will be missed.

That old adage about statistics being for losers doesn’t apply to Anthony Russo’s all-too-brief three-year career at Temple.

He exits the school not only as a winner, but only behind Steve Joachim and Brian Broomell in winning percentage as a Temple quarterback.

To me, that’s the most important statistic.

Arguably, Joachim and Broomell and even P.J. Walker played with better talent around them (at least compared to the level of competition Temple was playing at the time) so Russo’s numbers were even more impressive.

Further, Joachim, Broomell and P.J. Walker were playing a systems more suited to their respective talents.

Under Rod Carey and, to a lesser extent, Geoff Collins, Russo was not. I’d love to see what Russo would have done at Temple under just the system Matt Rhule ran his last two years at Temple: Fullback, (often) double tight ends, establishing the run behind a premier tailback and then making the safeties and linebackers inch up to the line of scrimmage so that Russo could fake to, say, Ray Davis, and throw over the top to wide open receivers like Branden Mack and Jadan Blue.

Les Miles with AR when Les was head coach at LSU.

Unfortunately, we never saw that.

Now we will never see it because, err, that’s the offense “we” ran at Northern Illinois. Great coaches structure their offense around the talents of their players and not try to force feed their own philosophy on a different skill set. If there’s one thing we’ve discovered in two years, Rod Carey is not a great coach.

Even in that ill-fitting system, Temple, under Russo this year, was able to put up 32 offensive points against USF and 29 each against Navy and Memphis.

The other quarterbacks combined put up 3 (Tulane and ECU), 13 (UCF), and 23 (SMU).

There are certain quarterbacks who should NEVER be asked to run the ball except on quarterback sneaks. At Temple, I would have put Tim Riordan, Lee Saltz, Marty Ginestra, Pat Carey, Doug Shobert and Matty Baker into that group. You can ask Joachim, Walker, Walter Washington and Broomell to run but the first four were also effective in exclusive passing systems.

In the NFL, Tom Brady, Matt Stafford or Joe Flacco should never be asked to do that.

Not saying AR is headed to Michigan State, but these are his most recent followers on twitter.

And, above all, Anthony Russo should never have been in that kind of system at Temple.

Even a blind man can see that.

That’s probably why Russo is taking his talents elsewhere. There’s a lot of speculation about where he will land, but I think he’s better than any of the quarterbacks at Penn State, Pitt or Kansas right now. It’s not the school that matters, though, but how the coaches at any school will utilize his unique talents. The next few weeks he’s going to have to sort all that out.

If he finds one without an RPO, even if it’s not a marquee school, that’s where he should go and that’s where he will finally be able to reach his full potential and have his name called on NFL draft day.

Unfortunately, the name Temple will not be called once he walks to the podium.

Thanks to Rod Carey.

Friday: Digesting The Wednesday Signings


The Transfer Portal and Temple

“Why you leaving, Anthony?” “Coach, I came here because Rhule promised me a pro-set passing scheme, not an RPO one.”

Nothing has ruined my enjoyment of college football in general and Temple football in particular than the transfer portal.

When the people who rule college football (the Power 5, not the NCAA) got together and imposed this penalty-free system where a player could transfer anywhere he wanted, schools like Temple were hurt the most because the Owls built a respectable program (largely) by identifying top talent ignored by the P5 and coaching them up.

For the better part of the last decade, Temple was the beneficiary of that system.

Something tells me the guy on the left would have been a much-better coach for Russo than Rod Carey turned out to be.

For the better part of the next decade, Temple won’t be. Oh, Temple will still identify the talent and–once a coaching change is made–coach them up, but other schools will benefit from the money Temple spends on coaching and the scholarships Temple gives out.

It’s what I call the Yankee syndrome. Years of listening to New York City sports talk has made me aware of this condition. It usually goes like this. Ryan Howard hits .313 with 58 homers and 138 RBI for the Phillies after the Phillies developed him. Caller to Mike and the Mad Dog in 2006:

“That Ryan Howard for the Phillies looks really good. The Yankees should sign him.”

Mike: “Great idea.”

Mad Dog: “What do you want, Mikey, every good player on every team to sign with the Yankees? How about leaving some of the good players for the other teams? This is getting ridiculous.”

That’s how ridiculous college football has become.

Too many good players are hemorrhaging from G5 schools, specifically Temple, to go to the, err, Yankees. While UCF, Cincinnati and Memphis are able to keep their best players, Temple is not. Guess what? Those are the schools Temple is supposed to compete with and that’s not a good sign. The Owls supposed “replacement” for the AAC Defensive Player of the Year (Quincy Roche), Manny Walker, did virtually nothing this season.

When I was diplomatic and posted on social media that Walker did virtually nothing, I was challenged by a Bruce Arians Era player.

“Mike, he did virtually nothing? He did nothing.”

Yeah, on second thought, you are right.

Now the Owls have signed another, err, replacement for Roche in Will Rodgers III from Washington State. In two years, he had as many sacks as Roche did in a single season for Temple.

Nice pickup but as good as Roche?

Err, no.

That’s where the departure of, in my mind, Temple’s best player on this year’s team, Anthony Russo, comes into play.

I don’t blame Anthony. He did what he had to do. He did what I would have done had I possessed his skill set. He was playing for a head coach who was so stubborn he tried to fit square pegs (RPO offense) into round holes (the unique talents of his players). It’s the same problem Geoff Collins has at Georgia Tech. He’s got triple-option players trying to run a more NFL passing scheme. What both coaches should have done is exactly what Hugh Freeze is doing at Liberty. Design a system around the player, not vice versa. Carey should have used a fullback his first two years and eased into the RPO he next two ones. Collins should have used a triple option his first two years and eased into whatever Dave Patenaude philosophy (if he has one) in his next two. Guaranteed under those circumstances Carey would have been better than 1-6 and Collins better than 3-5 this year.

Head coaches are stubborn and there are no two more stubborn than Collins and Carey.

Not surprising that players are leaving both programs.

To me, the portal was made for guys like Russo and Toddy Centeio. Russo was stuck in a system that didn’t showcase his NFL talent and Toddy left because he was stuck behind Russo.

The collection of players the Owls rolled out to replace an injured Russo proved only one thing: Russo was 10x better than them and that might be a conservative estimate. The only quarterback I see in the transfer portal better than Anthony Russo is McKenzie Milton. Do you think MM would come to Temple to play for Rod Carey? That’s laughable. Much more likely that a Matt Rhule or an Al Golden would be able to sweet talk him into that kind of move.

The bottom line about the transfer portal and Temple is that if you are the Temple head coach and somebody leaves, you are supposed to replace them with as good or a better player than the one who left.

Otherwise, as a head coach, you have not done your job.

On top of the horrible 1-6 bottom line, color me unimpressed with this aspect of the Rod Carey Regime.

He’s got to do much better in the player acquisition area in order to avoid an even worse numbers problem.

Monday: The Russo Legacy

Picks this week: I split two games last week against the spread, taking me from 7-4 to 8-5 against the spread for the season. I was leaning to Pitt laying the seven at poorly coached GT but failed to pull the trigger (kicking myself for that). Games we are pulling the trigger on (for amusement only): Taking North Carolina to cover the 3.5 against Miami and the Rice Owls to cover the 6.5 against former Temple Owl assistant AD Mark Ingram, who is the current UAB athletic director.

Update: Won both as North Carolina not only covered the 3.5 but blew it away in a 62-26 win and Rice covered the 6.5 in a 21-16 loss. Now at 10-5 against the spread for the season.

How Did Temple Get This Bad This Fast?

In any other year, Rod Carey would be on the hot seat at Temple University after a 1-3 start.

As we’ve all found out since about mid-March, this is not just any other year.

In the year of Covid, probably two or three years of it, really, no one is getting fired at any university because the revenue streams coming in are so unpredictable. The Owls are allowed almost no fans this year and next year is up in the air as well.

The university is in the hole for $10 million of a five-year contract to Carey and there is no Lew Katz around willing to eat it.

How did Temple go. in just two short weeks, from the No. 1 team in conference wins (since championship play began in 2015) to a likely 1-7 season?

In a word, Pride. In other, stubbornness.

As King Solomon, a pretty wise guy himself, said: “Pride Goeth Before the Fall.”

In Carey’s case, he had a nice “square peg” offense at Northern Illinois in the RPO and players suited enough for him there to post a 52-30 record as a FBS head coach. When he came to Temple, he found himself with “round hole” players who were more suited to a pro-set offense, and a quarterback who could never sell a defense on a RPO but is damn good at flinging it down the field after the run is established off play action.

Those of us who thought Carey might have been a good hire did so thinking a good coach adjusts his schemes to his available personnel and not try to force an ill-fitting system onto some great players from another system.

I did not see that coming. I thought a professional head coach would be able to improvise and adjust. Carey has not been.

What we learned in Temple’s 38-3 loss to Tulane–a loss that broke an 86-year (five games since the 1934 Sugar Bowl loss) winning streak–was that Anthony Russo is only about 10x a better quarterback than his two backups and that might be a conservative estimate.

Get well soon, Anthony.

Even more than that, though, is that Temple should have been 3-0 coming into the game had the Owls approached the red zone with some simple shit like throwing the fade to Branden Mack on first down instead of dicking around with runs on the first two downs. You’ve got a 6-6 wide receiver and a quarterback more than capable of throwing a fade like this and you piss away two wins by throwing a dump pass short of the goal (Navy) and running straight up the gut followed by a quarterback draw (Memphis)?

This is what Carey should have done for the 2-point conversion at Navy (30-second mark)

If Temple is paying Carey $2 million a year for that, the administration should demand its money back for those two losses alone.

Temple needed a running back and a pass rusher in the offseason but passed up on chances to get running back Ricky Slade from Penn State (who went to Old Dominion) and defensive end Scott Patchan (Miami, who went to Colorado State). Both were arguably better than any player they had here at both positions. Those are administrative errors, but Carey’s coaching errors cost the Owls two precious wins prior to the Tulane fiasco.

Due to missing 13 players (covid) and Russo (shoulder) it is hard to blame Carey for the loss to Tulane but, in the history of college football, rotating quarterbacks has resulted in about zero wins in 1 million games.. That’s why, if Russo is injured, you’ve got about three days to settle on one guy and not use a game as an audition.

This ain’t Hamilton where you audition guys to play the role of Aaron Burr during the play itself.

The Owls have tried two methods of hiring head coaches, one bringing in up-and-coming assistants, and one bringing in a proven FBS winning head coach. They haven’t tried the Greg Schiano Method (hiring a guy who proved he could do the same exact job at a high level), but Al Golden is available. Maybe even a better option is grabbing a local head coaching legend like Gabe Infante, who has been proven to be a great gameday coach.

So far, the prior two methods have been problematic. If Temple goes back to the old way, do you trust Fran Dunphy to identify the next Matt Rhule?

I don’t. Fran is more likely to bring a guy like Bob Diaco than he is a Jeff Hadley.

One led to a revolving door that ended finally after an 18-day turnaround. Another brought in a guy who wanted to do it his way when he was delivered a blueprint for winning at Temple long before he got here.

He ignored it and now we’re stuck with him for three more years. Saturday was ugly, but it’s about to becoming uglier and, unless one of us hits the lottery and are willing to buy him out, we can’t do a damn thing about it.

Brace for impact. To paraphrase King Solomon (and Barry McGuire), we’re on the eve of destruction.

Monday: Fizzy

The Math Just Got Easier for Russo

Who would have thought that both of these guys would finish 1-2 in stats as a Temple quarterback?

As far as we could determine, this quote about numbers and people was first attributed to Matt Holloway, but we’re sure someone slipped it into a figure of speech sometime before then.

If the quarterback position
was meant for
a runner then we’d
still be playing
the single wing

“Numbers don’t lie, people do.”

The numbers for Anthony Russo to pass P.J. Walker as the consensus all-time best Temple quarterback were challenging coming into this season. Even with a full season this year, and that’s doubtful, Russo would have to pull 40 touchdown passes to knock off the toughest record ahead of him: Walker’s career touchdown list. Not impossible, since LSU’s Joe Burrow tossed 60 touchdowns last season, but not likely, either.

Now, though, with Russo stating in an story quoting Anthony that he will be back for not only 2020 and 2021, all of Walker’s records become not only fair game but well within reach, especially his career yard total of 10,669. ( is well worth the subscription.)

That’s assuming a lot of things, though, among them that the current coaching staff is not so wedded to a read-option that it might ditch the better passer for the better runner. They do that to their own peril, though, and coaching staffs usually don’t commit career suicide. If the quarterback position was meant for a runner, then we’d still be playing the single wing.

Interesting that Russo had 10 more TD passes in two years than Mike McGann had in five (medical redshirt).

The other assumption is that the Owls will get a minimum eight and a maximum dozen games in this season and that could be problematic considering the science, politics and general angst over public health in relation to big-time sports.

All that aside, though, all Russo will have to do the next two seasons is do what he did in the 2019 regular season in touchdown passes (21) and yards (2,861) and he will have two significant career quarterback records at a school that began playing football two centuries ago.

He already has 15 wins in nearly two full regular seasons (missing the first two and the final UConn game in 2018). Walker had four full seasons with two wins his first year, six his second and 10 each in his junior and senior seasons. If Russo goes 15-6 in the next two regular seasons (we’re not counting bowl games because only a handful of Temple quarterbacks have played in one), he beats what in my mind is the most important stat a quarterback can have.

The “people lying” part of this equation was on display on the same OwlsDaily board when someone wrote: “Russo had a better season in 2018 than 2019.”


He had 14 touchdowns against 14 interceptions in 2018 vs. 21 and 11 in 2019. The numbers said he got better, not worse.

Since people often lie when they move their lips and the numbers on the page always remain the same, I will take the latter over the former when discussing anyone’s legacy.

If Russo’s passing remains as on target the next two years as the last two, that legacy will be unsurpassed.

Friday: Projected Offensive Starters

Monday: Projected Defensive Starters

Flip side: Why 2020 Could Be a Step Forward

The Rutgers Al of Miami, coach Coop, is still not completely sold on Manny.

From the moment the season ended, it’s been nothing but bad news for the Temple football program.

Other than the expected losses, players with returning eligibility left for the NFL (2) and other FBS teams (2).

Pessissmism, not optimism, have understandably reigned.

Still, all is not lost. There are several reasons for optimism left in no particular order and we’ll go with just five names:


Manny Diaz. Despite having three top 10 national recruiting classes in the last six years, Diaz took that talent and lost six games, including crosstown rival FIU (which had six classes rated lower than Temple prior to last season). If Diaz “coaches” Miami (with D’Eriq King at quarterback and Quincy Roche at DE) to a loss against visiting Temple, the season momentum could be off and running for the Owls.

Anthony Russo. Even in an ill-suited offense (for him), Russo improved from 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions to 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. If he makes even the same kind of improvement this season, that will be 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions. No Temple quarterback has ever had that kind of season, even in a 10-2 season (Brian Broomell), a 10-3 season (P.J. Walker) and a 9-1 season (Steve Joachim). Gotta think that 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions get the Owls at least 10 wins.


Ray Davis. Maybe 900-plus yards from a true freshman running back will convince this coaching staff to put more emphasis on the running game, even with an RPO approach. If it does, that sets up success in the passing game.

Jadan Blue. Three years ago, Blue had over 100 yards and three touchdown receptions in what might have been the last “true” Cherry and White game of the century. People who saw that performance knew we had something then. His record-breaking season in 2019 cemented that perception. If Blue even has a “slightly” better season in 2020, he could be a first-team All-American. His style of play reminds me a lot of Gerard “Sweet Feet” Lucear, a former great Owl wide receiver from Georgia. With him as the “speed” receiver and Branden Mack as the “possession” receiver (with a whole lot of speed), Temple’s passing game could be lethal.

Nikolos Madourie. Who? At Temple these days, you’ve got to check the official roster daily to see if the guy’s still here. (Madourie still is.) He could be the impact pass rusher Roche was. For comparison’s sake (recognizing the levels of play are different, though), Roche was named AAC Defensive Player of the Year with 13.5 sacks. Madourie, a 6-6, 240-pound player from Sunrise, Fla,., had 15.5 sacks his last year of JUCO ball. If he gets, say, 13.5 this year, he will be more than an acceptable replacement for Roche especially since guys like Dan Archibong, Ifeanyi Maijeh and Kris Banks are going to provide a good push up the middle.

You want optimism? That’s the best we can do now, a week before the start of spring practice.

Otherwise, we live in Philadelphia but our mindset is in the Show Me state of Missouri.

Friday: A Look at Depth


Russo could finish near top of all-time stat line

Despite an inordinate amount of what probably is underserved bashing on social media, the 2020 season could provide a clearer picture of Anthony Russo’s legacy as a Temple University quarterback.

People lie, but numbers don’t.


I’ve got to think Anthony Russo would have thrived more under Matt Rhule’s pro-set offense than under Carey’s RPO-based one. Maybe in Carolina in a couple of years.

Because P.J. (I still call him P.J. because I think it rolls off the tongue better than Phillip) Walker had four years to what will be three years as a starter for Russo, some of these career records he set here will never be broken:

  • Most passing yards=10,669
  • Most touchdowns=74

Walker had a terrific debut for Houston in the XFL with four touchdown passes against only one interception there but the crazy thought here is that Russo will be a better pro passer than Walker simply because his game is built for the NFL style (pocket passing, not RPOs). Sure, places like Buffalo and Baltimore run a lot of RPOs but the NFL is still a pocket passing league and that’s the kind of game where Russo can excel. I love P.J. and he can also make all of the throws, but his downfall in the NFL was that he was four inches shorter than Russo and could not see over 6-foot-5 defensive linemen with 41-inch vertical leaps. That metric changes in the XFL.

All of the other Temple University passing records, the apples to apples ones, will probably be picked off by Anthony Russo if he’s only able to duplicate his single-season of 2019 (21 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions, 2,861 yards) this season. You’ve got to think he will do better than that with Jadan Blue and Branden Mack as his two leading receivers. I think he will. I’m putting him down right now, if he’s injury-free, for 25 touchdowns, 3,000 yards, and 10 interceptions. (Feel free to snipe at me in December of this year if these predictions are wrong, but I think it will be pretty close to right.)

Those numbers would easily put him as the second-best, statistically, quarterback of all-time at Temple.


Anthony Russo congratulating P.J. Walker after throwing winning TD pass at UCF

What would Russo have to do to be No. 1? Just for fun, Anthony would have to throw 40 touchdown passes with 5,246 yards to be number one in all statistical categories. That would be close to a Joe Burrow-type improvement at LSU. In 2018, Burrow had 16 touchdown passes and five interceptions and 2,894 yards. In 2019: 5,671 yards, 60 touchdowns, 8 interceptions. Not happening for Anthony, but a fun scenario to think about in a Matt Rhule-like pro-set offense. RPO? No chance.

So, Rod Carey, please think about a more sensible offense for this talent in 2020. There’s got to be a sensible offensive guy in that coaching room who can tailor an offense around the present QB and not a long-term future one.

Still, though, the 25-3,000-10 season we described would put him in second place in all the major Temple statistical categories. He would break the single-season touchdown record shared by Brian Broomell and P.J. Walker (22 apiece) and top Walker’s 2015 season for yardage (2,972).

You might have a different opinion of Russo but, to me, numbers don’t lie and they will be telling the more complete story than any eye test done by the amateurs soon enough.

Friday: What the New Stadium Deal Means

2020: New Year, New Solutions


“Hey, just got off the phone with Matt Rhule and he came up with a pretty good idea: what do you think of me going to a play-action passing game instead of the read-option in 2020?”

The night before every senior day, I look down the list of guys leaving and think “wow, we’re losing this guy and that guy. … how are we going to survive next season?”

This year was different.

You don’t see Bill Belichick
asking Tom Brady to run a read
option and that’s part of the
reason why he’s the greatest coach
in our lifetime and other coaches
are 0-7 in bowl games

I was struck with how few impact players Temple was losing. Sure, there were the linebackers–Shaun Bradley, Chapelle Russell and Sam Franklin–but William Kwenkeu (the defensive MVP of the 2017 Gasparilla Bowl) took a redshirt and Isaiah Graham-Mobley–the best linebacker on the team when he went down for the season–should be fully recovered from his injury. That mitigates the losses at the linebacker position.

Matt Hennessy, the best center in the country, was a redshirt junior as was one of the best pass-rushers in the country, Quincy Roche. The Owls had a pretty good tight end returning on that day in Kenny Yeboah.

The problem with Senior Days in the changing world of college football is that you can’t judge what you are losing and what you are gaining on those days alone. Hennessy and Yeboah won’t be back and neither will Roche, who decided his chances to be drafted would be higher with a Power 5 team than his Temple brothers and entered the portal. Harrison Hand also left early for the NFL draft.

A Power 5 program that recruits four- and five-star players can survive that kind of bleeding of the talent base. Temple cannot.

Two steps forward one Senior Day, three steps back after the season is over. A pretty good argument can be made that the Owls lost more this season with their junior class than their senior one, given the replacements they have at linebacker.

The year 2020 is here but, with the New Year come new challenges. For the Temple staff, it’s replacing the seniors who invariably leave and the surprising number of juniors who leave or left.

Screenshot 2019-12-04 at 10.26.18 PM

Will we ever see this stat again under this staff? Got to hope so, but it doesn’t look good at this point.

With the New Year, whether the Owls can surpass what has been an eight-win season will be determined by how they address special teams, and the quarterback and center positions.

Temple built its reputation in the past on special teams. This year, the Owls did not block kicks nor did they return them. Is the philosophy to do nothing? If so, that needs to be changed from the top down.

At quarterback, the dilemma is simply this. They have one quarterback who can’t run and one quarterback who can’t pass yet they are asking the passer to run and the runner to pass. (Todd Centeio’s miss of a wide-open Branden Mack for an easy touchdown against UNC wasn’t his first of the season.)

Making Vince Picozzi the starting center fixes one spot.

At quarterback, the simple fix is this: Don’t ask the passer to run. Scrap the read option, go with a lot of H-back/tight end blocking motion and design an offense around the passer. Consider using Tayvon Ruley as a blocking fullback who gets an occasional carry. Establish the run first behind Ray Davis, then have explosive downfield plays in the passing game off play-action. Once the run is established, a deft fake to Davis will freeze the linebackers and safeties Temple receivers would be running so free Anthony Russo wouldn’t know which one to pick out. That would make Russo a much more effective quarterback. Bring Centeio in to run the Wildcat and as the short snapper to throw fakes off punts. (Remember when Temple used to fake punts for touchdowns?)

You don’t see Bill Belichick asking Tom Brady to run a read option and that’s part of the reason why he’s the greatest coach in our lifetime and other coaches are 0-7 in bowl games.

Saturday: Four Portals

Two Guys To Be Thankful For This Season

“Even if I was with the Patriots, I’d be asking Tom Brady to read the option and run every once in a while. Yeah, I know it probably wouldn’t work there, either, but that’s the only offense Mike knows how to run.”

There are plenty of things to be thankful for as Thanksgiving rolls around today. This season flew by and there is at least one more chance to get together with my football friends on Saturday, so there’s one thing.

Maybe a bowl game if it’s in D.C. or NYC as well.

Keeping this post to football, though, I’m thankful for two people this year what I believe is far too much criticism on social media: Our quarterback and head coach.

First the quarterback.

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 9.23.17 AM

Adam DiMichele’s first two full years at Temple were 2006 and 2007

As Temple fans, we can pretty much agree on the following:

Steve Joachim, Henry Burris, P.J. Walker, and Adam DiMichele were great quarterbacks wearing the Cherry and White.

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 9.13.49 AM

Anthony Russo’s first two full seasons at Temple compares favorably with any of the great quarterbacks at the school, even with a full game left in the regular season.

Guess what?

Anthony Russo’s first two years at quarterback–with a full game to go–stacks up with the first two years of any of those above quarterbacks and he still has another year to go, so that’s something to be thankful for.

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 9.12.07 AM

Henry Burris’ first two full years at Temple were 1994 and 1995

I’d love to see Russo run a similar offense to Joachim (the veer), Burris, Walker and DiMichele (NFL-type pro sets) but his stats in variations of the spread have been pretty darn good. Give him a more traditional NFL-type offense than a college one and he would thrive. Nobody asks those NFL quarterbacks to run with the exceptions being the Jacksons and the Wilsons.

To me, the No. 1 stat for a quarterback is wins and losses. Russo was 7-2 last year as a starter (losses to Villanova and Buffalo went to Frank Nutile and the win over UConn to Todd Centeio) and is 7-3 this season and about to finish 8-3. That’s 15-5 and only Joachim, the Maxwell Award winner as a national college football player of the year (1974) was better in his two seasons (17-3).

No other quarterback was close in modern Temple history and that’s pretty rarified air.

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 10.35.50 PM

Steve Joachim’s first two (and only) seasons at Temple were 1973 and 1974. Surprisingly, he had a much better passer rating at Penn State (162.5) than he did at Temple (141.7).

The next most important stat is touchdown/interception ratio and Russo improved on his 14/14 line with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season.

In the area of cold statistics, Russo completed 418 passes in 721 attempts for 5,049 yards with 33 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. Compare that to Joachim’s first two seasons (208 completions in 380 attempts, 3,262 yards with 31 touchdowns and 23 interceptions).

Henry Burris and Adam DiMichele could not compete in the area of wins but put up some impressive, albeit, inferior statistics to Russo. Henry, a legend in the CFL, completed 354 passes in 709 attempts for 4,720 yards with the same amount of touchdowns (33) but four more interceptions.  ADM? 273-443, 3,113, 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in his first two full seasons.

P.J. Walker had 20 touchdowns to 8 interceptions in his first season but never had a better TD/INT ratio after that. He did throw for nearly 3,000 yards in each of the years after Rhule ditched the spread option for more of a pro-style attack using a fullback. That led to a championship appearance one year and an outright championship the next. There is still time for Russo to do that but he will need to get some help from Carey in the form of an offense more suited to his passing skills than his running ones.

Screenshot 2019-11-28 at 10.47.40 AM

P.J. Walker went from 20 TDs and 8 INTS to a sophomore slump of 13/15. He threw for nearly 3,000 yards ONLY after Rhule switched to a fullback-oriented play-action passing game in P.J’s final two seasons.

For someone who remembers and cringes thinking about the quarterbacks of the Al Golden Era and before that, I’m glad that Anthony Russo is my quarterback.

Carey has deservedly received some criticism here because he did not tailor his offense to the talents of his players but I’m also glad he’s my head coach for one reason.

Manny Diaz could have been.

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 11.06.53 PM

This was our blog post on the day Temple hired Manny Diaz. We were off only about 348 days.

Diaz lost to a team, FIU, last week that lost to both Tulane (42-14) and FAU (37-7). He lost to a Georgia Tech team that Carey beat 24-2.

I have to laugh at the
criticism of both guys,
Russo and Carey. Guess what?
Jalen Hurt and Nick Saban
are not walking through that
door to quarterback and coach
Temple. If you don’t like
Carey as Temple coach, who
would you have hired instead?
Chris Creighton? Lance Leipold?
I don’t think either would
have done appreciatively
better here.

Despite my criticism of Carey’s blind spot (not running a play-action run-oriented offense to open up passing lanes for Russo), I’m also glad he’s my coach because there is no way Temple beats Georgia Tech, Memphis and Maryland with Diaz as my coach.

I have to laugh at the criticism of both guys, Russo and Carey. Guess what? Jalen Hurt and Nick Saban are not walking through that door to quarterback and coach Temple. If you don’t like Carey as Temple coach, who would you have hired instead? Chris Creighton? Lance Leipold? I don’t think either would have done appreciatively better here.

To me, if Carey had run a pro set with a fullback and two tight ends and established the running game against Cincy, Russo would have had plenty of time to find receivers on play-action fakes and thrown four touchdown passes in a 40-15 win instead of a 15-13 loss. Scoring points on Cincy with the talent Temple has on offense (Russo, Ray Davis, Jager Gardner, Jadan Blue, Isaiah Wright, Branden Mack, Kenny Yeboah, etc.) should not have been that hard. The system has to be designed around the talent and this system does not do that. That’s what I believe now and that’s what I believed after Matt Rhule’s first two years of doing the same exact thing before Matt adopted our suggestions in Year Three. (Matt admitted to me in a phone call that he read this blog the entire year he was an assistant at the New York Giants. I doubt he stopped once he became Temple head coach.)

Maybe Carey will have a similar Ephinany after his first year like Rhule did after his second. I think Rhule was more pliable but I hope Carey surprises me.

Is there room for improvement for both coach and player?


That’s why next year is an important one for both and a major reason we should give thanks today and be excited about the future.

Saturday: Two Proper Sendoffs

Sunday: Game Analysis

Temple vs. UCF: Disgraceful and Inept


Editor’s Note: Fizzy, a former Temple player,  just about every one of the other 29,000 fans in attendance, was shocked and appalled by the Owls’ poor play on Saturday night. His summary follows. 

By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub

Today’s analysis will be brief.  That’s because everything I said about SMU, could be an accurate comment about the UCF game.  So take last week’s out of the trash bin and read it again.

And therein lies the problem.  Nothing ever changes with this coaching staff.  The weaknesses we showed against Buffalo, were capitalized on by SMU and UCF.  We stay in the four-three with man to man coverage, despite our total inability to operate that defense successfully.


Fizzy here at the Boca Raton Bowl, where the Owls will probably return if they only win one more game.

I would like to take some time here to apologize.  As we ran out to a  5- 1 record, I kept talking about how much more talent we had than the teams we beat. Well, yes Doris, that was true then, but it’s not now.  When we got to the really good football programs, everything changed. Now, most of the good programs have talent that is equal to, or better than ours. I should have known that.

So what that means is the coaching staff has to innovate. On defense, there are many different alignments I can think of that would upset the blocking schemes. Some would put more pressure on the QB, (we had none) and some would throw many unusual zones and combo zones and man-to-man pass defense up so the QB could no be sure of our alignment, and still bring pressure.  In our three losses, we have been beaten for at least nine long touchdown passes and six long runs.  Our defense stinks.  If you can’t pressure the QB and you can’t defend long, what’s left?

On offense, we also show no imagination as we have basically been stymied. Forget the terrible play calls in many situations.  If it’s broke, fix it!  Try a hurry-up or unbalanced line with two backs in the backfield.  Try a power I, or go to one of the split formations.  Damn, go to a single wing for a few series, anything to make the defense uncomfortable.  Put Centeio and Russo together, so there are two passing threats.  I don’t want to hear the coaches say, “Well that’s our offense and they have to stop it.”  Guess what?  They have stopped it.  You have to do something different if we are not to be further embarrassed for the rest of our schedule.

In short, if our coaching staff doesn’t innovate on both offense and defense, well, I’m not going to sit out in the cold.  It was bad enough I left with eight minutes into the third quarter last night.  A friend offered us seats upstairs in an enclosed box, and I didn’t want to throw-up on the nice seats.

Thursday: Some Explaining To Do

Saturday: Game Day Without The Owls

SMU: Could’ve, Would’ve Should’ve


Editor’s Note: Former Temple player Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub posts his thoughts in this space every Tuesday. 

By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub

Last week, I said I still was waiting for Anthony Russo to have a great game.  Guess what?  He had that great game against SMU, but his receivers were somewhere else.  He was 18 – 32 with at least seven drops.  Three of those drops were probable touchdowns and the others would have been key first downs.  Despite everything else, if we caught the ball, it would have been a tight contest.


What does a coach do about this lack of concentration?  Drill, drill, drill! One suggestion is to substitute different colored tennis balls for the football, and the receiver has to call out the color – contact allowed.  There are probably 100 other drills that may help.

While we’re discussing the offense, I really thought the play calling was exceptionally conservative.  On most of the third and fourth and shorts, everything was one back, up-the-gut – no trickery, nothing going back the other way. On other occasions, the passes were short of the first-down marker or dumps in the backfield.  Rolling out Russo and Centeio may have helped.  I still don’t understand why Russo doesn’t keep the ball on an RPO or bootleg once in a while, and if I see the quick screen to the outside one more time, I’m gonna scream.

Screenshot 2019-10-21 at 11.05.57 PM

On defense, I believe we gave up four long touchdown passes.  That shows we can’t cover speed man-to-man, especially if the QB has time.  (I thought we didn’t blitz nearly enough.)  Therefore, we need an alternative defensive scheme.  A scheme that both puts pressure on the QB, and also plays a deceiving zone. One way might be to have five guys playing the run with all sorts of blitzes, while six guys play a zone.  If six guys are playing zone, that zone could have many different looks.  It could be a 4-2, 3-3, 1-5, etc.  Most importantly, there has to be deep help for the corners.  C’mon guys!  You have almost more coachers than my 1959 team had players.  Innovate!  What you’re doing isn’t gonna get you to the league championship game, despite our talent.

In summary, we got the crap kicked out of us by a really well-coached and quarterbacked team.  However, one league loss doesn’t sink a season.  Can we come back?  Central Florida will fill the air with footballs.

Thursday:   Changing Things Up

Saturday: Game Night

Sunday: Game Analysis