5 Priorities for Temple spring ball


At the start of every spring practice, Bruce Arians used to give a little speech to the Temple players.

It always closed with, in a strange Southern accent for a York, Pa. boy: “Get your work done.”

Spring ball at Temple, which begins today, has changed a lot since Arians. The rock-strewn practice field is now the Pavilion. Geasey Field is waiting for a stadium that will probably never arrive.

Back then, the work pretty much started on the first day of spring ball. Today, it’s just a continuation of a 365-day deal. Just because the NCAA insists on a spring ball structure that includes 15 organized practices, that doesn’t mean nothing gets done on the other days. The work continues, not starts, today, but should be at least five points of emphasis near the top of new head coach Rod Carey’s list (in no particular order):


Return to Normalcy 

That means structured depth charts, not vague “above-the-line’ concepts. Since Carey is starting with a clean slate, everybody else does, too, so don’t expect a full depth chart until after the spring game. It also probably means less D.J. playing and band participation while the work is getting done.

Restoring Depth 

Carey has said the difference between being a new coach at Temple and elsewhere is that a new coach elsewhere has to start from scratch with a bad football team. At Temple, this new coach inherits a good football team across those two first-team depth charts. One of the challenges this year, is finding depth, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. It’s great to have players like Zack Mesday, Karamo Dioubate, Dan Archibong and Dana Levine returning along the defensive line, but it’s time to identify their replacements. The same can be said for the offensive line.


Finding a Running Back 

Unless you count current wide receiver Isaiah Wright, a one-time running back No. 3 on the depth chart under Matt Rhule, there is no Ryquell Armstead, Jahad Thomas or Bernard Pierce-level talent on this roster. That’s why you have you have to count Wright since the Owls did not go out and get a big-time JUCO or grad transfer there. Will Carey have the courage to experiment with Wright back there? Having an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver (Sean Ryan, Branden Mack, Jadan Blue, Freddie Johnson, and Randall Jones) should buy a lot of courage. Blue is particularly interesting because he was by far the star of the spring game last year and had to sit out the fall.


Fixing the Offense 

Right at the top of winning football is protecting your quarterback and getting to the bad guy’s quarterback. Offensively, Dave Patenaude thought the best way to protect a quarterback with an NFL-level skill set was telling Anthony Russo to slide. The Owls will have to do much better than that this year and take a page out of Bill Belichick’s book and abandon the RPO offense. Belichick won a championship by keeping his prototypical NFL skill set quarterback upright with an effective running game that set up all sorts of interesting play-action options downfield and that is the way the Temple personnel is set up.

Sound Defensive Concepts

Mayhem was promised by the last coaching staff but rarely delivered. Geoff Collins’ schemes often gambled and produced some effective takeaway stats, but also factored into games where the Owls gave up 57, 52 and 45 points–all losses. In a halftime basketball interview with Harry Donahue, Carey said he puts a premium on a defense that keeps the bad guys out of the end zone even if that means fewer turnovers.

That sounds like a plan. The work doesn’t begin today but continues in a more structured environment.

Bruce Arians would probably approve of the approach.

Thursday: Numbers Guessing



New Site For Spring Game?



The new Temple soccer stadium (drawing here) is fully completed.

Buried in a roundup of AAC spring football games was tidbit: “South Florida held its spring game at its soccer facility before 3,500 people.”

Funny, because that the exact number Temple estimated that was squeezed into the Edberg-Olson Football Complex for its spring game.

The USF game comfortably sat 3,000 people in Corbett Stadium with very few people standing. The Temple spring game had a couple of hundred people sitting in portable seats brought in the for occasion, with the rest of the fans trying to move their heads to get a view of the action.

USF soccer stadium. Tampa, Fla. Sept. 6, 2012.

This USF soccer stadium was the site of school’s spring  football game.

That all could change by the middle of next April as Temple will also have a soccer complex that seats 3,000 people. In roughly the same amount of square feet the university plans to build a football stadium, it will open a soccer/field hockey complex in the middle of next month. Both will have separate seating of 3,000—a nod to the Title IX regulations that call for equal facilities for men and women’s sports.

Still, if USF can hold its spring game at a soccer facility, so, too, can Temple.

The people who tailgate will just have to move to closer open lots, but the people who come to see the football will do so with an unobstructed view of the action. It will be a stopgap for the spring game until the school can build a football stadium, if indeed it ever does, but it will represent a considerable upgrade of the spring venue Owl fans have been used to for the last decade or so.

Nothing has been decided, but moving the game a few blocks seems to be a no-brainer.

Monday: What The Eff?

Deloatch Could Make Impact At Defensive End

Matt Rhule hits on some key points postgame.

The hard numbers coming out of Saturday’s Cherry and White Game were three touchdown passes by P.J. Walker in the White’s 35-25win over the Cherry.

That’s important, because Walker is going to have a big year and the Owls are going to crush Army and Stony Brook in their first two games. With a four-year starter like Walker at quarterback, I also like their chances against anybody Penn State uses at quarterback in the third, which leads us to the rest of the story (as Paul Harvey likes to say).

Putting pressure on that PSU quarterback is going be more important and a guy like Romond Deloatch could hold that key.

Romond Deloatch, Temple football,

When we last saw Romond Deloatch, he was walking off the field in disgust following the Toledo game.

Three years ago, Matt Rhule dipped into Charlie Strong’s playbook when he decided to discipline wide receiver Romond Deloatch for missing a team meeting. As a punishment, Rhule put Deloatch on defense.

The only punishing done that day, though, was by Deloatch, who had what is believed to be a team-high seven sacks in a scrimmage. The move was reminiscent of Strong, then the Louisville head coach, who punished a quarterback named Marcus Smith by putting him at defensive end in a practice four years ago.


The difference, though, was Strong kept Smith at end and he became a first-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Rhule, having made his point, put Deloatch back at starting wide receiver for Temple. Rhule and the defensive coaches filed away that sophomore performance and now Deloatch is back at defensive end in Saturday’s annual spring game. Quarterback P.J. Walker’s White team beat Deloatch’s Cherry team, 35-25, but the score in these games are never has important as the personnel moves and Deloatch’s is certainly one of the most unusual in Temple history.

At times, Deloatch appeared unblockable, but because the quarterback was not “live” there were no stats kept on sacks. Like Smith, though, Deloatch’s long arms, leaping ability, first step to the quarterback and lean frame (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), make him an intriguing weapon at defensive end. At the very least, the experiment will continue into the fall and Deloatch could be a specialty pass rusher in third-and-long situations. Either way, if Deloatch is able to disrupt things there are a whole lot of talented guys on that DL that can contribute to collapsing the pocket, too.

If he gets seven sacks in the opener against Army, and seven more against Stony Brook, the PSU quarterback—whoever he is—might be wise to take out an insurance policy.

Tuesday: 5 Things We’ve Learned This Spring

Thursday: The Real Key to the Season

Saturday: Opponents Spring Games

Cherry and White: A Day For Good Guys

My favorite answer here comes at the 10:35 time stamp.

Full disclosure: I hate the Cherry and White game, but love Cherry and White Day.

I always have felt the same way about the game, because the Cherry and White game pits the Good Guys vs. the Good Guys. If, say, Marshall Ellick beats Nate Hairston on a fly pattern for six, half of me is high-fiving, but the other half is not returning the high five. The reasoning is simple. Half of me thinks we’re going to have a great vertical passing game and the other half is concerned about replacing Tavon Young at a corner.

If our defensive line gets 10 sacks, I’m worried about our offensive line. If Jager Gardner, Ryquell Armstead and Jahad Thomas gain 300 yards against the defense, I’m just as worried about the defensive line as I am excited about the offensive line.


Work, in  a manner of speaking, already being done on new stadium site.

And on and on …

You get the idea.

There are really no winners and losers when the good guys play the good guys. To really get a feel for how the Owls will be this summer, we will all have to wait until the Army game. Or Stony Brook. Even then, it might be too early because


Field samples taken earlier this week.

Penn State should be the telling game.

For the first 10 or so Cherry and White games, I left Geasey Field or Temple Stadium or Ambler thinking the Owls would go unbeaten. It’s the last 30  years or so I’ve discovered the real truth. You cannot tell anything from the game itself.

The day, though, is another story. It’s a chance for Temple fans to get together again and that is  where the real victory is. There is no better place to pick up Temple “stuff” than Cherry and White Day, so bring cash.


Just what is this guy’s problem?

This year, with a new stadium on the horizon, there should be a palpable excitement among those fans knowing this is one of the last two or three games on the East side of campus. With that in mind, it would be nice to see a drawing depicting two things: 1) What the stadium will look like; 2) Will it be North-South or East-West? Fifty percent of the people swear up and down on a stack of bibles that the stadium will be East-West, while another 50 percent will swear that it is North-South. Me? I would like for it to be North-South (better view of Center City), but the land configuration dictates East-West.

Other than that, as Jose from Norristown might say, I would like to see a donation jar to purchase former Owl kicker Wes Sornisky his own grave stone (he is buried anonymously in a Potter’s Field in Delaware after dying alone in a fire),  a folding chair in Doc Chodoff’s name to given to a loyal fan and the revival of the Mark Bresani Spirit Award given to the most spirited player of the spring.

Maybe not this year, but certainly in the future.

Sunday: General Cherry and White Thoughts

5 Questions That Need To Be Answered


Jahad Thomas looks good catching the ball.

After every spring practice, Temple head football coach Matt Rhule gets approached by reporters asking him a battery of questions. They are usually informative ones, like listing the injured and the players who look good so far. You know Pravda is going in there lobbing up softballs, and that’s been their modus operandi since Rhule was hired in 2012 so that is probably not going to change. On the other hand, Temple video person Morgyn Seigfried needs to be given props for asking some of the best questions that can be seen every day on the Temple video site. Still, there have been a number of tough questions that have not been asked and need to be answered, so hopefully Seigfried or someone like Marc Narducci will get around to asking these five before the April 16 spring game.


Look at the Temple fans in Houston.

  1. Will The ‘Dog Stare Offense’ Be Scrapped?

In the 24-13 loss at Houston in the AAC championship game, the Owls wasted 20-25 seconds on every play looking over to the sidelines for a call in the fourth quarter. Down 11 points with 7:18 left, the Owls needed to conserve every second of time but they instead gave a clinic on how to waste it. How is this problem being addressed?


Ryquell Armstead.

  1. What Is Up With The Run Game?

The Owls have added former offensive coordinator George DeLeone as their “run game” coordinator, the first-ever coach in the program to be designated as such. Why did Rhule feel the need to hire a run game coordinator and how does he mesh with new OC Glenn Thomas?


  1. What Is The Plan For Karamo Dioubate?

On the day Temple got a signature from incoming four-star defensive lineman Karamo Dioubate, he was offered by Alabama. Is the plan to play Dioubate inside, where he is needed, or outside, where there is an overabundance of talent?


Jahad  Thomas

  1. Will Greg Webb Be Eligible?

Greg Webb, a four-star defensive tackle who originally signed at North Carolina, and could not academically qualify there or at Temple last year. Will he be eligible to play in the fall? If so, he is an immediate impact starter and could lessen the blow of losing Matt Ioannidis.


  1. Could Jahad Thomas Be Moved?

It’s no secret explosive running back Jahad Thomas, who is only 5-10, 170, wore down at the end of last season. Of his six 100-yard games, four were in the first seven games. Is there any possibility of moving Thomas to the slot and making room for Ryquell Armstead at running back?

Saturday: Who Is Marshall Ellick?

My invitation must have been lost in the mail

This is where Pitt is playing its spring game.

The Cherry and White scrimmage has been canceled.
Now that I’ve got your attention with that opening sentence, I want to clarify it.
The Cherry and White scrimmage has NOT been canceled officially.
In reality for many (most) of us, though, it has.
I received a letter in the mail yesterday from “Temple athletics” and eagerly ripped it open, hoping that it was my “few invited guests” invitation to this year’s Cherry and White game.
Instead, it was a form letter signed by Steve Addazio and Bill Bradshaw saying that “due to safety concerns and space limitations at our facility, it is necessary to limit the number of spectators at this year’s final scrimmage to recruits, families, and a few invited guests of the football program.”
I guess my invitation has been lost in the mail.

This is where Temple should play its spring game.

Which means I will probably miss my first Cherry and White game in 32 years as it stands now.
Really, this means that if you are a member of the Owl Club or a big booster, you are in the door.
If you are a “regular season ticket-holder” _ even a 30-year one like me _ tough luck.
Talk about class warfare in an election year. ….
Let me go on record as saying if I don’t get an invitation, that offer of $365 million dollars to Temple football is officially off the table. If you didn’t like me when I was poor, I don’t want you coming to me when I’m rich. Since the Mega Millions is $290 million this Friday night, that could be very soon.
It didn’t have to be this way.
Actually, it still doesn’t.
Temple tried to get Lincoln Financial Field, but Jeff Lurie made the price so high that it was cost prohibitive.
Temple’s Ambler Campus Field was determined unsafe (don’t know why because it was safe enough for Al Golden to take the team there five years ago).
High school fields were determined out of the question because of the “small-time” perception involved.
I’m not buying that last excuse.
Pitt is playing its spring game at North Hills High because, like the Linc, Heinz Field is unavailable or cost prohibitive on that date. Pitt wants its fans to have a full spring game experience and damned with what everybody else’s small-time perception is.
Temple should do the same for its fans.
North Hills seats 5,000 people and has a brand new sprint turf field.
Northeast High in Philadelphia, less than five miles from the Edberg-Olsen Complex, seats 9,000 people and has a brand new sprint turf field. Northeast is a great venue for both football and tailgating, with many Temple grads as teachers, and would welcome the Owls with open arms.
Pitt doesn’t give a damn about perception.
Neither should Temple.