Temple’s OT loss at Navy came down to one play

Slice it and dice it any way you want, but Temple’s 27-20 overtime loss to Navy came down to one play of one series.

Getting a first-and-goal at the 5 in the last minute of regulation, the logical move for a quarterback who has been hurried the entire day and an offense that can’t get yards on the ground is to roll the quarterback out and try to find a moving receiver target in the end zone.

What did Temple do instead?

Run straight into the teeth of the Navy defense for one yard to set up a second and goal at the 4. A lousy, lousy first down play call considering the personnel available. It wasn’t the only lousy play call. You have a former high school quarterback on your roster (Trey Blair) and you call a reverse pass for someone who never threw a pass in a game before (Amad Anderson)? Lousy call. How about a halfback pass using Blair instead? You have a proven pass-catching tight end (David Martin-Robinson) and you call a key third-down pass to the other tight end who caught only one ball all year? Don’t be surprised when he drops it. Lousy call. Incredibly bad roster awareness. Good coaches scheme to the individual talents of their players and it’s painfully obvious Temple doesn’t have enough good coaches or, worse, they don’t know what their players are capable of doing.

Now back to the most important play call of the day. Not scoring a touchdown on first-and-goal at the 5 is letting down every single kid on the team.

Talk all you want about the subsequent plays in the series, but a fake to the running back on the FIRST play, not the second one, and rolling the pocket could have bought quarterback E.J. Warner the time he needed to find someone–anyone–open in the end zone. No matter how many backup offensive linemen you might have on the field, any self-respecting offensive coordinator has to find a play to scheme a touchdown on a first-and-goal at the 5. Even if he doesn’t find someone, getting Navy on a hold in the end zone is a better outcome than a 1-yard gain up the middle.

Run on first down and the defense assumes that you’ve got to pass on the next two and adjusts the defense to suit that reality.

Navy takes the field

The difference there is the difference between winning and losing. Or Temple being up by 24-20 against a triple-option team that had to to the length of the field for the game-winner with a backup quarterback.

Chalk it up as another lesson for an offensive coaching staff that really should have the experience under their belts to not make the same mistakes they’ve been making at other places.

Stan Drayton when he gets better from this recent sickness will have a lot of difficult decisions to make this offseason and one of them should be to go in a new direction in the way of coaching staff leadership on the offensive side of the football.

Danny Langsdorf has come up microscopically small not only Saturday but the entirety of this season and it’s painfully obvious new leadership is needed on that side of the ball.

That said, the other two areas of the team–special teams and defense–contributed to Temple’s loss.

Temple’s offensive woes mean you can’t muff a punt that leads to a Navy touchdown. Defensively, in overtime, Temple has to be aware that there is literally no chance that a backup quarterback that had not completed a pass all game would complete one to beat Temple.

Temple’s defense had to be aware enough to sell out to stop the run from the 25 in overtime, kick the field goal and win the game.

For all of the apologists who say this is a moral victory (none exist in my mind), just remember that a local FCS staff with an entire team of FCS players was able to hold Navy to seven points this season.

If our local FBS team with the luxury of having FBS players was able to do the same, we’d be writing about a 20-7 Temple win today.

Whatever decent effort the players gave yesterday should have resulted in a win. They can mostly thank their coaches that it did not. Stan Drayton is the CEO and, even though he was home watching on TV, he is responsible for repairing this mess.

Monday: What Might Have Been

Fizzy’s Corner: Dissecting The Loss

Editor’s Note: Former Temple football player Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub brings the perspective not only of a player but a lifetime of coaching football, teaching and writing. He breaks down the Navy game here.

By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub

Well, you saw the game. There could have easily been fourteen more points on the board for Temple, and the two-point conversion call at the end was stupefying. That’s not what I want to discuss. 

     Throughout last season and this year’s first game, one consistency stands out. Temple does not adjust during the game, especially on defense. The game plan you come in with is the plan for the entire game. No matter what.

      Saturday was the worst. With over a month to get ready to play Navy’s triple-option, the plan was an overshifted 4-3 with a defender (nose-tackle) head-up on the center. Guess what? It didn’t work, and Navy ran up and down the field because Temple couldn’t stop the fullback. The only time the defense changed was when Navy had third and/or fourth and short.

 My opinion is that if you stop Navy’s fullback, you destroy their offense. So one different alignment might have a middle linebacker stacked in back of the nose-tackle, and they each blitz the gaps on either side of the center. Another might be two defenders lined up in the gaps on either side of the center. You have to remember that Navy’s quarterback couldn’t run well and couldn’t throw deep. There was no risk.

     After the debacle, Inquirer reporter Mike Jensen interviewed head coach Rod Carey. Carey said the problem was, “Our pad level was too high.” Of all the poppycock excuses I ever heard, this takes the cake. What the hell does that mean? Do you have to get shorter defenders? Carey made no mention of coaching deficiencies. 

     With last year’s defensive collapses in the second half and the poorly designed defensive strategy vs. Navy, one thing is abundantly clear. Temple can’t adjust. What a waste of talent.

Friday: USF Preview

Cross: Klecko Was the Best I’ve Ever Played Against

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Randy Cross back in the day

Five takeaways from the Navy game:

In between former All-Pro Randy Cross pulling out the hairs on his head questioning both Temple football offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude’s personnel packages and play calls, he dropped this gem when a photo of Joe Klecko playing for Temple was displayed during CBS Sports Network’s broadcast of Temple at Navy on Oct. 13.

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“In my 12 years in Pro Football, Joe Klecko was the single best player I’ve ever played against, any position,” Cross said. “In my mind, he should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and it’s kind of a travesty that’s he’s not. I mean, how many players in the NFL have made the pro bowl at three different positions (tackle, end, nose guard)? I would venture to say none.”

Cross’ Temple Connection

In the interest of full disclosure, Cross said: “I have a Temple connection. My niece went there and she’s a proud graduate.” Not because of that or because of the Klecko comment, but Cross–perhaps more than any other color commentator in recent years–did his homework on the Owls and a great job on the game itself.

Not very many UCLA graduates have a Temple connection and, in December, Cross will have two when Paul Palmer is inducted into the college football Hall of Fame. Cross was inducted into the same Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Freddy Booth-Lloyd’s Recovery

Seeing nose tackle Freddy Booth-Lloyd (err, Freddy Love) writhing on the ground in pain, it looked to me like he was done for the season. He was reaching down and holding his knee and it did not appear to be a cramp but something like a tear so to see him come back into the game and play like, well, Joe or Dan Klecko in completely bottling up the Navy dive play was a miracle. Maybe one of those Blue Angel jets gave him a quick ride to Lourdes but it was perhaps the most amazing recovery I’ve ever seen a Temple player make during a single game. He should make for a great Temperor should he not make the NFL.

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Anthony Russo Should Be 5-0

Through no fault of his own, Anthony Russo chalked up the L against Boston College. That’s a little like Harvey Haddix pitching a 12-inning perfect game in 1959 and losing, but that’s what he did. Russo was not perfect against BC, but one of his interceptions was delivered right between the numbers of a Temple player, who saw it bounce off his chest and then reached up and grabbed it with both hands only to see it bounce off those hands into the arms of a BC defender. Owls were driving for a sure score there with a 21-13 lead and 5:08 left in the half and that turned the game around. Toss in a perfectly thrown bomb that was dropped (by the same Temple receiver) and a horrendous coaching call on a third-and-two play and his teammate and offensive coordinator did him no favors. Here’s how impressive that would have been: No QB in the history of Temple has ever started 5-0 and that includes Maxwell Trophy-winner Steve Joachim and bowl-winning quarterback Chris Coyer, both 4-1 and 4-0, respectively. For a guy who really hasn’t played any meaningful downs in two years, that’s remarkable.

Navy Controversy

After watching the game, I went out to the local supermarket and was able to pick up the Navy post-game show on WBAL (1080 AM), Baltimore. All they did for a good 45 minutes after the game was talk about a “bad call” that “affected the outcome.” I’m thinking, “What bad call?” Evidently, they felt a block in the back a Navy player had on Freddy Love was erroneous but the replay of the game clearly showed the Navy player used both hands to push down on FBL’s back. None of the announcers had any problem with it and it just goes to show you two sets of fans can look at the same thing and come to different conclusions. That’s a call that had to be made, though.

Thursday: A Special Homecoming

Saturday: How Good is Vegas?

Sunday: Game Analysis

 

 

 

 

Fizzy’s Corner: Could’ve, Would’ve, Should’ve

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Editor’s Note: Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub (pictured), a former Temple player and later a coach, educator, and writer, provides his expert perspective in this space every week.

By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub

Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen of Temple University rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Armstead, Wright, Gardner, and Russo. They formed the crest of the Broad Street cyclone before which another fighting  Navy football team was swept over the precipice as spectators peered down on the bewildering panorama spread on the green plain below.

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Wait, there’s something wrong.  The master horseman wasn’t there.  Armstead was on the sideline watching the drama unfold as he was too injured to play.  Why?  Well because Coach Collins allowed him to continue to play in a blowout the week before, even after an injury in the fourth quarter.  To make matters worse, the coach refuses to address either the injury or his mistake. Yesterday when asked, he shrugged and said, “We’ll keep getting better.”

It’s the measure of a man who admits his mistakes and apologizes.  Coach Collins needs to come out front.

Now, on to the game with Navy.  For those who think I’m beating a dead horse, let’s look at the first two offensive series yesterday.  Do you think we really wouldn’t have scored with a first and goal on the half-yard line if Ryquell was playing?  Do you think we’d have fumbled the ball right back again on the second series if the master horseman was riding?  That’s a possible fourteen points and could have put the game away, right away.  As we get ready to play three top 25 teams, we need our best running back to be healthy.

To borrow a word from Grantland Rice above, there were some bewildering offensive play calls as usual.  Play fakes on third and long, two up-the-guts after a first down incompletion (borrowed from Andy Reid), a punt on fourth and one from on the Navy side of the field, throwing from an empty backfield on second and short, and the fade that was intercepted in the end-zone with two minutes to play.

On the other hand, the draw play for a touchdown was a terrific call, and we continue to see Russo roll out and run a few keepers.  I’d really like to see him run some RPO’s.

It’s very tough to evaluate the defense when it’s playing against the triple option, as there are many theories out there.  Wayne Hardin once told me his theory was to over-shift the defensive line to the strong side. Some coaches will assign one linebacker to tackle the fullback, one to hit the QB, and one for the pitch.  As Navy doesn’t throw well, man-to-man pass coverage should suffice.  I’m thankful we got ahead just in time to force them to do that.

A win is a win.  However, in Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Land, we are now 6 – 1.

Tomorrow: 5 Takeaways From the Game

Thursday: A Special Homecoming

Saturday: How good is Vegas?

Sunday: Game Analysis

You Get What You Need

There’s no way Mick Jager could have been inspired to write “You can’t always get what you want” unless he would have stepped into the H.G. Wells’ Time Machine and watched Temple’s football game at Navy yesterday before going back to 1969.

If you are a Temple fan, you can’t always get what you want, but, at least yesterday, thanks mostly to the kids who tried all the time, they got what they needed.

A win.

That’s the bottom line but it’s not really all that mattered.

If this team is ever going to achieve the potential it both wants and needs, it is going to need fundamentally better coaching. We haven’t seen very much evidence of that in this 4-3 season. Seven and Oh talent, a 4-3 season because in part of what of the kind of head-scratching play-calling and personnel packages we witnessed on the first and penultimate drives of the game.

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What I–and I suspect a great majority–of Temple fans wanted after the Owls got a first-and-goal at the 1 on the first drive of the game was to put a fullback in the game and pound Jager Gardner behind him for the easy six. Somehow, though, offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude got his 147th brain cramp of the year and put two defensive players–Freddy Booth-Lloyd and Dan Archibong–in the game and that pushed the ball back another five yards due to an illegal procedure penalty on the second play of that series. The first play was an unnecessary quarterback sneak. The First and goal from the 1 is no time for a sneak or exotic personnel packages. Asking defensive players to rush into the game and hear a snap count they are unfamiliar with is a recipe for disaster.

Disaster went down like sewer water yesterday.

It is high time to put Nitro in at fullback (his natural position) and giving the ball to Jager Gardner for the easy six. If Gardner doesn’t get it on first down, he almost assuredly does on second or third. Don’t try to be a rocket scientist when you know basic geometry–the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

Memo to Patenaude: This SHOULD be Temple football on every first and goal. Do you think Matt Rhule ever cared what defense Cincy was in here?

But …. nooooooo … these guys are so stubborn they don’t want to use a traditional fullback behind a pretty good tailback.

Twilight Zone was revisited on the penultimate drive of the game, with 1:48 left and the Owls getting a first down at the 9. All the Owls had to do was put a fullback in the game and run Gardner behind him for three downs, using the clock, perhaps scoring. Instead, this genius from Coastal Carolina decides to throw a ball into the end zone, committing two unpardonable sins–stopping the clock and turning the ball over.

Less than two minutes left with a first down inside the 10 is not the time to get greedy.

Or stupid.

Speaking of stupid, the very smart announcing team–led by former All-Pro Randy Cross–was aghast (aghast, I tell you) about the Owls approach to running down the play clock which could be described in two words: Ignoring it. On just about every play, the Owls were snapping with 11-13 seconds left on the play clock, when they could have run that down to 2 or 3 seconds before snapping. Cross estimated that the Owls wasted “about a minute and 42 seconds” by snapping the ball early.

“What’s the rush?” Cross said.

Randy, meet Dave Patenaude, who seldom makes any sense.

The Owls got what they needed yesterday. To win a title that these kids deserve, they better start getting both what they need and what they want and that is an offensive coordinator who understands even the most basic elements of Football 101.

Monday: Fizzy’s Corner

Tuesday: What We’ve Learned

Thursday: A Special Homecoming

Saturday: How Good is Vegas?

Sunday: Game Analysis

How Good is Temple? More Clues Today

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Today’s uni … maybe they are saving the Cherry helmets for Homecoming…Photo: Zamani Feelings

A very wise sage named Bill Parcells once famously said: “You are what your record is.”

Another wise sage named Lee Corso is just as famous for his catchphrase: “Not so fast, my friend.”

As far as how good this 2018 Temple football team is, we found out a little last night and will find out a lot more today. Certainly, the Parcells’ quote does not apply to this squad because it is 3-1 since a new quarterback took over for the one who went 0-2. This is a Lee Corso-type squad.

Not so fast, my friend. As presently constituted, this is no doubt a better team than what their record is (3-3, 2-0).

Exactly how much better is a question we should have a handle on by nightfall.

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We got a little glimpse last night when USF struggled to beat a Tulsa team Temple hammered (31-17). Even though USF is unbeaten and ranked No. 23, it also struggled against an ECU team Temple dismantled, 49-6. One comparative score could be misleading. Two is a trend. Should both Temple and USF play their best, got to like Temple’s chances in that game a few weeks down the road.

First, though, Navy is up (3:30 p.m. in Annapolis, CBS Sports Network).

No predictions on that game here because Navy is always good at home, where it beat a very good Memphis squad, 22-21, earlier this year. Temple fans are in a show-me mode today. Show me you are good by beating Navy.

Still, one other game today will give Owl fans a pretty good grip on where their team stands in the overall league picture because Houston travels to ECU as a 16-point favorite. I think that line is way too high and I would not be surprised if ECU pulls this out. In an upset, I’m picking the Pirates, 27-25. That would mean Temple is very, very good.

Here are the other five in this week’s six-pack:

Toledo 21, at Eastern Michigan 14 _ Toledo is just a much-better program and will cover the two-point spread.

Georgia Tech 35, Duke 31 _ Georgia Tech, not Army or Navy, has the No. 1 rushing offense in the country and, although I like both head coaches, I like GT’s Paul Johnson (former Navy coach) more. Georgia Tech covers the three-point spread.

Notre Dame 42, Pitt 14 _ Central Florida beat Pitt, 45-14, and Penn State beat them, 51-6. If the host Irish have designs on a four-team playoff, they need similar style points. Pretty hard to convince the committee to pick them over UCF and PSU with, say, a 29-22 win. So ND easily covers the 21-point spread.

Central Florida 29, at Memphis 20 _ Memphis has shown some chinks in the armor. UCF has not. Knights easily cover the 4.5-point spread.

Texas 54, Baylor 25 _ Sorry, Matt Rhule, Texas has found another gear since losing to Maryland and should cover the 14-point spread. Rhule is getting the Bears better with a 26-7 win over a Kansas team that destroyed Rutgers and another win over Kansas State, but the Longhorns are a different animal than a Jayhawk or a Wildcat.

Last week straight up: 4-2

Last week ATS: 2-4

Overall straight up: 11-6

Overall ATS: 8-10

Today’s TV Schedule:

tvlistings

Fizzy’s Corner: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Editor’s Note: I was asked some new tailgate friends on Thursday night who Fizzy is. He is in the photo  showing what Swag really means. Here are his thoughts on the win over Navy.

By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub

Wow, Temple was up over Navy by three touchdowns. Frank Nutile’s passing was pinpoint, and everyone was catching the ball. Had Dave Patenaude turned over a new leaf, throwing early and often? Lots of folks left early, and missed the conclusion. It was probably better for them.

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Graphic thanks to Brad Ford

All in all, the coaching was pretty doggone good… for 54 minutes, and then the wheels fell off… again. Up by three touchdowns with a little over six minutes left, Dependable Dave Patenaude did the same thing he did the week before vs. Army. Temple gets the ball at midfield, and Dave runs three times up the gut. Instead of trying a variety of plays and/or throw the ball to get one or two first downs and sew up the game, he starts playing not to lose. In one fell swoop, he gave the momentum back to Navy. (How many times have we all seen coaches in football and basketball slow up their offense too soon, and give the momentum back to the opponent?)

Once more, we barely had a running game. I attribute this to Dave’s, everything’s straight ahead, “Broad Street Offense.” After our ninth game and for the entire season, we’ve run one reverse, one jet sweep, and one bootleg. And where was the “Cheese-Steak” split offense? How about the “wildcat” with Wright at tailback; can’t he throw too?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. We had five, “first and goals.” On four of those, the first play was “up the gut” against a goal line defense. Finally, on the fifth try, he ran a play action pass on first down, which resulted in a touchdown. Hoorah!

The defense played spectacularly for 54 minutes, and almost completely slowed down Navy’s vaunted offense. That’s until Navy’s first string QB, Zach Abey, got hurt. His replacement had quite an arm, and if he wasn’t sacked, he easily picked apart Temple’s pass defense. There were guys open all over the place. When Navy went to a “trips-left” formation, Temple tried to cover it with one and a half defenders. How’s that possible? On some plays, our pass defenders were obviously confused, as they were at the end of the Army game. I truly believe had Navy recovered the last onside kick, they would have tied the game. This is the second week in a row, the pass defense has fallen apart at the end of the game. This time though, time expired before we did.

Tuesday: Be All You Can Be

Playing Possum?

Temple TV maps out road to the championship.

A possum plays dead when it wants to defend itself from predators and, in at least a couple of respects, the lead up to the AAC championship football game could be a case of the Temple football brain trust playing possum.

By extension, it also means to lay low to surprise the bad guys.

At least you’ve got to hope so.

Divulging an injury to P.J. Walker—err, walking around on a boot all week—could be a way of the Owls sending a signal to the Navy that their star quarterback will not play. I am not buying it. Walker will play and he will play at a high level. You heard it here first. I don’t think Ken Niumatalolo is preparing to play against Logan Marchi.

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                                                                        49 in Philly, but 54 in Annapolis. C’mon down and join us in the warmer weather.

The more concerning case of “possum playing” are the comments coming about defending Navy’s triple option. They indicate that the Owls have not learned anything, or at least much, from their season-opening experience against Army.

“It’s not the offense, it’s the players,” Temple head coach Matt Rhule said in the Daily News today.

Err, Matt, it’s not the offense or even the players as much as it is the defense. Air Force proved that by taking care of the A gaps and putting a nose guard over the center. If Temple lines up in the same 4-3 it lined up on Opening Night, it will get carved up like a turkey. Navy had the same players against Air Force it will have against Temple and it scored 14 points on Air Force. Temple has better athletes on defense than Air Force.  It better not score more than, say, 24 against Temple.

SMU tried to play a 4-3 against Navy and allowed 75 points.  Of course, SMU’s players on defense are nowhere near as good as Temple’s or Air Force’s.

It will not matter if Temple attempts to defend the triple option the same way it did on Opening Night.

Hopefully, Rhule is playing possum here or Temple is in trouble. If so, I can understand where he is coming from. Even if Temple tries to put eight in the box, you do not expect Matt to say: “We screwed up in the opener. We’re going to put eight in the box and dare them to pass and disrupt their ass and hit their quarterback in the backfield.”  All Matt has to do is look at this Temple vs. Navy film from 2009, where the Owls tightened the A gaps and stopped a 10-win Navy team numerous times on third-and-short and fourth-and-short in a 27-24 win in Annapolis. That Temple team, and this year’s Air Force team, provided a blueprint for the Owls to win. Matt still has Al Golden’s phone number. I wonder if he has Mark D’Onofrio’s? The Navy team Temple beat that day was good enough to beat No. 21 Notre Dame (23-21) and lose to No. 6 Ohio State, 31-27.

Defensive coordinator Phil Snow also said something equally as concerning in the same article: “Any time you run the quarterback, you outnumber the defense in the running game.” No, Phil, you don’t. All 11 defenders are allowed to tackle. Not all 11 offensive players are allowed to run the ball. Send more than they can block and you can disrupt the running game at the point of attack. Sit back in a 4-3 and you are asking for the offense to dictate the tone and tempo of the game.

Praise Martin-Oguike joined in the possum playing (hopefully) with this comment: “When we played Army, we missed a lot of assignments.” Praise, you didn’t have the right assignments. Clogging up the middle against the fullback and stringing the option sideline to sideline can be done a lot better than in a 5-2 or “44 stack” than it can in the Owls’ base 4-3. Hopefully, the Owls put this in against Navy this week in practice.

Playing possum or history repeating itself?

I sure hope it’s the former.

Actually, praying.

Saturday: Thanksgiving +10

Sunday: Championship Game Analysis

Mixing Things Up

Take the scenic route through Delaware and avoid most of I-95 hassles.

Take the scenic route through Delaware and avoid most of I-95 hassles.

While the notion about tackles in the A gaps and a nose guard over the center as the secret formula to beat Navy has been proven to work by Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, there is a strong conviction that a pretty good coach on the other side of the field has been breaking down Temple game film for the past couple of days.

Ken Niumatalolo has worked wonders at The Naval Academy since another great head coach, Paul Johnson, took his triple option to Georgia Tech.

Comparative scores indicate a close game.

Comparative scores indicate a close game, although the TU-USF score is a typo (real score was 46-30, not 20).

You do not overcome severe academic—getting into the Academy is like getting into an Ivy League school—and athletic (post-academy military commitment) without using your head for something other than a hat rack.

When he breaks down Temple game film, Niumatalolo probably sees a team that will attempt to establish the run and throw off play action. He will probably attempt to counter that by stacking the box himself and forcing the Owls to throw first and try to establish the run later. The way to counter an over-aggressive defense is to take advantage of their aggressiveness. That’s why it is important that the Owls mix things up and they can do that with these five plays they have not shown so far. Some people call them trick plays; I call them innovative ones and, if the Owls hit on just one, none of these plays will be wasted.  While I would not recommend the onsides’ kick (hey, it worked against Cincy last year), these are five plays that come with the TFF Navy Seal of Approval:

The Double Reverse

The Owls have tried the single reverse with Adonis Jennings at Tulane. That’s part of the film Niumatalolo has seen and is ready for; he has not seen the double reverse and Jennings handing it off to Isaiah Wright coming around from the other side should open up the field against an over-pursuing Navy defense.  That will set up the next play, somewhat later in the game.

The Double Reverse Pass

Virtually the same play worked four years ago for the Owls at SMU four years ago, where former Big 33 quarterback Jalen Fitzpatrick threw an 85-yard touchdown to Robby (then Robbie) Anderson off a reverse. We’ve been told Wright can throw an accurate pass between 60 and 85 yards in the air. We know that. Niumatalolo does not. That could catch Navy with their pants down.

The Shovel Pass

The beauty of this play is that it not only creates space for a guy like Jahad Thomas but, if it fails, it’s an incomplete pass and not a fumble. It’s like a delayed handoff except when P.J. Walker goes back to pass, he draws the rush to him and shovels a pass underhand forward to Thomas, who uses the newly created space to work his magic. The last time Temple used a shovel pass, it went for a touchdown from Chris Coyer to Matt Brown at Penn State (September 22, 2012). It is not on any recent Temple film and does not take a whole lot to put it into the playbook.

Throwback To The Tight End

A perfect play in the red zone offense that worked for a touchdown against USF a few weeks ago and Walker sells this play well, rolling out to his right and pumping a fake into one corner of the end zone (and drawing the defense to that side) before looking left to a wide open tight end. That tight end could be Thompson, who holds his block for a second and then releases. In that scenario, usually no one is assigned to cover him and that’s why he is always open.

Screen Pass to Jahad

This is a staple of the current offense, but an antidote to a defense that commits to stopping the run and the Owls should mix in a few of these every quarter.  No one is able to make defenders miss in the open field like Thomas and he is a weapon the Owls should use while they have him for a couple more games.

Thursday:  Temple-Navy Preview

Coach Hardin’s Big Night

Wayne Hardin, Roger Staubach, Navy,

Getty Images

There will be a program given out on Tuesday night at the brand new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta listing the accomplishments of the latest class to be enshrined.

Next to one name should be the description “greatest college football head coach ever.” No, Pop Warner, Bear Bryant and Amos Alonzo Stagg are already enshrined, but if greatness in a head coach is getting the most out of the talent he had, Wayne Hardin is the greatest head coach ever, period, end of story. Tuesday’s event will be rebroadcast on ESPNU on Wednesday night.

Pure coach Hardin. After the 1962 win over Army, reporters asked him what was the turning point: "When we walked onto the field." Classic. Love it.

Pure coach Hardin. After the 1962 win over Army, reporters asked him what was the turning point: “When we walked out on the field.” Classic. Love it.

Hardin was the last guy to coach two schools to Top 20 national rankings and both of those schools, Temple and Navy, do not travel to that stratosphere often. At Navy, he had the Midshipmen ranked No. 2 in the country and playing No. 1 Texas in the 1964 Cotton Bowl. Think about that for a moment. Navy did not give football scholarships in those days—technically, it does not now, either—and required its players to serve five years in the military after graduation. On top of that, the academic requirements just to get into the Naval Academy were Ivy League level. Interestingly enough, Hardin played for Stagg, coached at a school where Warner coached (Temple) and was succeeded at Temple by a guy, current Arizona Cardinals‘ head coach Bruce Arians, who was an assistant to Bear Bryant.

Yet Hardin had Navy competing and winning at a big-time level and that’s the very definition of a great coach. Hardin left Navy to coach in a fledgling professional league, the Continental Football League, and led that team, the Philadelphia Bulldogs, to a championship in 1966. That team played their games in Temple Stadium, which led to a 13-year-association at Temple, where Hardin was 80-52-3, the only winning coach in that program’s history. These days there are 39 bowls. In those days, there were only 15 and Hardin had the Owls in one of them.

In the 1979 Garden State Bowl, Hardin’s coaching directly led to Temple’s 28-17 win over California of the then PAC-10. Hardin found out by grading the Cal film if he pulled his guards up the middle (instead of right or left), there was no one to block. He pulled the guards straight ahead and the back followed through and, before Cal knew it, Temple had a 21-0 lead. The Owls out-rushed the Golden Bears, 300-23, in that game—a more than 200-yard advantage.

On the other side of the ball, Hardin discovered that Cal quarterback Rich Campbell was taught if he did not see his first read, to throw blindly in the flat to the fullback. Hardin developed a two-man pass rush and had one guy (all-time leading tackler Steve Conjar) meet the fullback and eight others into coverage. There was nothing to read, except a lot of Cherry-colored jerseys.

That kind of coaching was the norm, not the exception, for Hardin both at Temple and Navy. Before an Army-Navy game, Army had a group of defensive backs who led the nation in interceptions and who got the politically incorrect nickname “Chinese Bandits.”  Hardin had the Navy helmets painted to read “Beat Army” … in Chinese. Navy routed Army that day.

Nothing describes great coaching better than stories like that and perhaps that’s why next to Wayne Hardin’s name in Tuesday’s night’s program should be the words “greatest college football coach ever.” Guys like Stagg, Warner and Bryant did it with a maximum of talent. Hardin got the most out of what talent he had and that should always remain the standard for evaluating coaches.