Drayton hiring: Maybe logic doesn’t apply

Stan Drayton will always be a Texas guy hired by another Texas guy until he starts hiring TEMPLE guys.

There is no doubt that a significant portion of the Temple football fan base believes Temple made the right call by hiring Stan Drayton as a head coach but what he has done the first couple of weeks certainly has defied conventional wisdom.

First, he recruited a defensive lineman (no names, please, he’s just a kid) who had exactly one sack in his last full season as a high school player.

Then, he supposedly hired a co-defensive coordinator from Villanova without (officially, at least) hiring the other co-defensive coordinator.

That struck me as odd because the “other” rumored guy is someone who hemorrhaged points as a DC at various stops on the FBS level and might (err, probably doesn’t) even know or is sympatico with the philosophy of the Villanova guy. They might not butt heads once they get in the same room but what if they don’t get along?

That’s a headache Drayton doesn’t need.

No doubt in my mind Ed Foley would come back to fix Temple’s putrid special teams if Stan Drayton makes a phone call to Matt Rhule. That would put a lot of anxious Temple fans’ minds at ease.

You are allowed to question whether this guy knows what he’s doing, at least on the CEO level.

Put it this way: Drayton was a position coach all of his life and had limited responsibility. Now, he’s overseeing the entire operation and is a little like a guy fumbling around for the light to a room he first entered.

Excuse me for having the feeling that, say, Al Golden would have had this CEO part of the job locked down. If he liked the Villanova defensive guy, he would have named him sole DC and handed off the keys to that third of the team to him. He would have put the other third of the team, specials, on autopilot by adding old buddy and Temple lifer Ed Foley before tackling the final third.

Instead of a DL guy who had only one sack, Golden might have been able to recruit a Pennsylvania Big 33 sackmeister MVP like Adrian Robinson. Oh wait. He already did and Arob made a huge impact at Temple (rest in peace). Somewhere in that Al Golden binder of Mid-Atlantic recruits, I have to believe he already had the second coming of AR in mind and that kid might have produced double-digit sacks in a good high school league.

Golden would have known all the nooks and crannies of every room at the E-O without having to turn on a single light.

For now, at least in this space, Drayton will remain a Texas guy hired by a Texas guy until he starts hiring Temple guys and that hasn’t happened. Even Miami’s Manny Diaz hired four Temple guys right off the bat.

Maybe, though, that approach is wrong. Only time will tell.

Watching the Pitt-Michigan State game last night, I was able to give Drayton (and by extension President Jason Wingard and new athletic director Arthur Johnson) the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe the game has evolved (err, devolved) to the point that logic no longer matters.

Follow me here: Michigan State ONLY beat Pitt in the Peach Bowl because former Temple commit Kenny Pickett opted out. The teams that win league championships and bring home great bowl game trophies in the future might be coached by guys who get the PLAYERS to buy into his system and not the logic CEO guys. Drayton could overcome a lot of these early miscues by proving to be the player’s guy Rod Carey wasn’t. Because MSU coach Mel Tucker got his players to buy in and Pat Narducci didn’t get all of his players to do the same, the MSU fans came home happy and the Pitt fans were crying.

It’s a short straw, but it’s the only one I’ve got so far.

Fortunately, most of my fellow Temple fans are buying into the hire. For this shaky initial start, my body is in Pennsylvania but my mind has moved to Missouri.

Show me.

Unfortunately, those results won’t be in for another 11 months.

Winning the great majority of football games, getting AAC championships, AND not going 6-6, not chasing greatness, is the only barometer that really matters. You have to demand greatness and be great, not just chase it.

Just win. It’s that simple and that hard.

Monday: The AAC

Friday: The Quick Fix

Now Drayton starts the hard work

Getty Images

There were plenty of things to like about Stan Drayton’s opening press conference and what he said.

What he did not say was how hard the work he starts this week will be so what happened on Sunday night added some context.

Props to Scott Grayson of Fox29 for the kind of sit-down interview on Sunday night with a new Temple head football coach we used to see the night of the hire.

Channel 6’s Ducis Rodgers did more of a “stand-up” interview at 11:45.

Better late than never.

The Sunday night show on the other two major Philadelphia channels featured a rehashing of the NFL’s decision to postpone the Eagles’ game with Washington.

Yawn.

Temple legends Ed Foley, Matt Rhule, and P.J. Walker.

At least Philadelphia fans were exposed to Temple, which is also a good thing.

What Drayton didn’t say at the press conference, he touched on in the interviews–which was how tough the task will be to clean up the mess left by Rod Carey, without mentioning either the mess or Carey’s name.

“I’m in the process of interviewing coaches; I’m in the process of recruiting players and talking to my own players,” Drayton told Grayson. “Recruiting will be the lifeblood of any program.

“We’re sitting in a hotbed of talent … there is a pool of talent. There is enough for more than just Temple. Temple has to build that culture right here in that backyard.”

At the press conference, Drayton used the term “chasing greatness.” Geez, since everyone “chases” greatness, I wish he said something more definitive like “we’re going to win championships and bowl games.”

Matt Rhule mentioned that in his presser. Steve Addazio promised “multiple bowls wins” even though he delivered just one.

That’s nit-picking, though, compared to the work ahead.

To me, the first thing should he should do is what Manny Diaz did in his short 18 days–commit to a Temple-centric staff that then included Ed Foley, Adam DiMichele and Fran Brown. Diaz was credited with hiring Gabe Infante. Now Drayton can shore up a lot of recruiting by keeping Infante to lock down the Pennsylvania side of the river and Preston Brown the New Jersey side.

Carey’s biggest mistake was bringing an entire Northern Illinois staff to Temple, and easing out Temple guys like DiMichele, Foley and Fran Brown. He did hire Preston Brown, but it was too little, too late.

It’s a positive that in the Sunday interviews Brown reiterated his desire to bring in “Philadelphia” coaching connections but hopefully, that emphasis is on “Temple Philadelphia” and not “Villanova Philadelphia” or “Penn Philadelphia.”

The first move would be to bring Foley back. Matt Rhule is in trouble and rumors are that he will be fired. Getting the best college special teams coach in the country would be a major coup for Drayton who, if he watched the film over the last two years, knows that Temple’s special teams have been a joke. Foley would also help with local recruiting.

Other than that, you can expect Drayton to build a staff based on his 28 years of contacts at several schools. Let’s hope he keeps his promise about Philadelphia connections and, specifically, knowledge of and appreciation for Temple itself.

Friday: Quick Turnaround

What Could Go Wrong?

The quote is often attributed to Mark Twain but there is some debate over who said it first.

“The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”

Therein lies the rub for Temple football this season.

We outlined what could go right in Monday’s post but a lot of that was wishful thinking.

This one cuts to a lot of concerns about the Owls in 2021 because what could go wrong is Rod Carey doing the exact same things this year that he did the past two.

My Rod Carey Ephinany came in the second half of a 2019 Military Bowl loss to North Carolina.

Taking Ed Foley off the field was a bad mistake.

Several Owls were laughing and joking on the sidelines down 55-13, a score they eventually lost by that late December day.

I looked over to Carey and he just folded his arms and looked skyward.

Not to the players behind him yuking it up. Just skyward. None of his assistants did a damn thing.

I shook my head in disgust, picked up my program, and walked out of the stadium.

What would Al Golden have done?

What would have Matt Rhule?

You and i both know. They would have gone ballistic because what was happening behind them was much more important than what was happening in front of them at the time, at least in terms of the state of the program and that overused but appropriate word: culture.

There was no discipline from either Carey or his staff.

Plenty of departures from the program afterward from guys who were used to the pride and discipline.

There was no Temple TUFF on the field that day or Temple pride on the sidelines.

COVID, schmovid, it carried over to the 2020 season.

If Carey is going to survive at Temple, he needs to restore the tough level of play on the field and pride in wearing the Temple uniform on the sidelines and that involves locking down the little things like sideline demeanor.

The change is going to have to be manifested in CARING about the play of the special teams, which Golden correctly maintained was a third of the team just as important as the other two areas, offense and defense. Rhule felt the same way and, under Geoff Collins, the Owls were ranked in the top 10 in special teams. It helped that all three coaches had Ed Foley to put those units on auto pilot.

Don’t know if Carey felt this way at NIU but it always seemed to me that special teams were an annoyance to him and taking Foley off the field was proof.

Now he has to fix things that never needed fixing before at Temple and because he’s shown no inclination to fix them, that’s what could spiral the Owls downward toward a two-win season.

Can they change as a staff?

Maybe, but Twain earned a reputation of choosing his words wisely for a reason.

Monday: A Sucker Bet?

Friday: A history of openers

TU-Tulane: What we won’t see

No one knows what we will see when Temple and Tulane play in New Orleans on Saturday.

We do know that Vegas believes the game will be decided by around three points and Vegas has usually proven to be right so making a play in special teams for once in Rod Carey’s short Temple life could be the difference between a win or a loss.

.This was just two years ago. It now seems like 200.

Judging on nearly two years of evidence, we do know what we won’t see: An impact play by Temple on special teams. By impact play, it’s simply this: A blocked field goal, punt or return for a touchdown.

It’s as simple as that and as complicated. Penn State might be Linebacker U and Miami (Ohio) might be the cradle of coaches but it wasn’t that long ago Temple was “Special Teams U.”

James Nixon’s 93-yard kickoff return in the 2009 game beat a 10-win Navy team. Delano Green’s punt return in 2010 beat Fiesta Bowl-bound UConn. Those plays were the residue of hard work in training camp below and the coaches putting their most elusive athletes in a position to advance the ball.

Who is the Matty Brown on this team?

Willie Erdman is our Matty Brown this year and that says more about Rod Carey than it says about Erdman. I rarely have to rub my eyes and go to the roster when I see a Temple player but when No. 84 fielded a punt against Memphis I had to ask myself: “Who is 84?”

It turned out to be Erdman, who was profiled on OwlsDaily this week. When I read the lead that he was a transfer from Georgia, I got excited for about a millisecond. “Must’ve been a five-star recruit with moves like Gale Sayers” went through my mind before discovering he was a walk-on with zero punt returns for zero yards at Georgia.

I’m all for transfers from P5 schools coming to Temple, but you can leave the walk-ons there to the Villanovas of the world. If I get a P5 transfer, I want it to be a guy from Penn State, Ricky Slade to throw out a name, who had to transfer to JMU to get playing time despite being the No. 1-rated RB recruit in the country.

Back to Erdman, though. Carey seems to be from the school of thought that just catching the ball and securing it is enough. He doesn’t seem to understand that securing the ball and advancing it are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Where is our Avery Williams?

Williams is shown above blocking a punt. Under Carey, Temple hasn’t even tried to block a punt and no one knows why but a clue can be provided by how Carey approaches the return game. Carey is risk adverse, which means that he’s probably worried more about getting a 15-yard penalty for roughing (or running into) the kicker than he is about, say, Branden Mack using that 91-inch wingspan to leap up and block a punt and then have about 10 other Owls chasing it into the end zone and falling on it.

Again, it’s possible to block a punt without running into the kicker. Temple used to do it all the time. For instructions on how, pick up the phone and ask Ed Foley.

Carey is too proud to do that and too conservative to change his special teams philosophy now. Let’s hope he can make up the three points in other areas but abandonment of one of the three most important phases of the game is not something Temple can sustain.

Predictions this week: Had Marshall laying the 26.5 on FIU but that ticket returned voided due to game being canceled; also was lucky enough to jump on BC getting the 31.5 before the Lawrence injury and picked Georgia Southern covering the 6.5 (barely) in a 24-17 win over visiting South Alabama. Of course, won’t count those so we start at 0-0 with these official TFF picks:

Air Force getting 14.5 against Boise State (any team that beats Navy 40-7 has my respect); going with Boston College now getting “only” 24 against Clemson and Michigan laying the 25 against Michigan State. BC is incredibly well-coached, while Michigan State hiring Mel Tucker coming off a 5-7 season at Colorado was a real head-scratcher to me and that was reaffirmed by Rutgers’ win at MSU last week. Not touching Temple-Tulane (no trust in Temple’s defense or special teams), Memphis-Cincy or Houston-UCF, three AAC games that can go either way.

Update as of 11/1: Lost on both Air Force and Michigan, won on Boston College.

Record so far: 1-2 against the spread.

Late Saturday Night: Game Analysis

Fizzy: An Ode to the Offense

Editor’s Note: A short little diddy from Fizzy today

                            By: The Fizz

On first down in the red zone or at the goal,

running up the gut usually pays the toll

So after those plays are quickly snuffed,

play-action and passes become really tough

And so what’s left is to throw the fade’

but we’re 2 for 8 in the sun or shade

No matter where we are on the field,

a quick-screen will be tried for its yield

And though I may scream and beg,

can you remember the last bootleg

From our fans you can hear the curses,

cause we don’t see any RPO’s or reverses

And when the clock is running down,

we seem to like staying on the ground

So matter how you try and spin it,

Temple’s offense is losing minutes

When you couple that with poor timeouts,

against good teams we may see a route

So we’re one and one and a little proud,

but Ed Foley’s ghost is laughing out loud.

All-time winningest TU QBS by percentages

Friday: Memphis Preview

TU Fans: Enjoy the win

In the waning days of Andy Reid’s tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, his team did not look good.

Mostly losses, and even the wins were sloppy.

After the unimpressive wins, Reid would walk into the press room and brush off legitimate questions with one phrase: “Enjoy the win, fellas.”

That’s pretty much the message to Temple fans today.

This is what Temple has looked like on special teams

Enjoy the win because this might be the last one of this strange season.

It’s not hyperbole.

I can’t find a single team remaining on the Temple schedule as bad as USF was and is but the Owls had to struggle mightily to beat the Bulls, 39-37. In fact, they needed the USF quarterback, Jordan McLeod, to inexplicably put the ball on the carpet for a scoop and score that pretty much gave Temple a gift win.

I had to laugh at a few of the exchanges I saw on social media Saturday. After the game, former Owl Barry Jenkins correctly noted these Owls were “soft on defense” and “couldn’t stop the run.”

To that, a familiar face on the sidelines for the last couple of decades responded: “Adam (Klein) was hurt. We’ll be fine.”

My response: “He was talking about the defense. There was nothing about the defense that spelled fine unless you are talking about Larry Fine of The Three Stooges.”

If the defense was the only problem, that would be one thing. Defense is only one-third of the team. Offense is another third and special teams is a third.

That was the Al Golden Mantra. Defense one third, Offense one third, special teams one third. The way Rod Carey has prioritized special teams since his arrival has made it abundantly clear that he considers special teams 1/10th of the team, defense nearly one half and offense nearly one half.

That’s a losing football mentality.

The sad thing was that he had the best special teams coach in the country, Ed Foley, and let him slip through his fingers. If there was anyone who was a Temple lifer it was Foley. Coaches from Al Golden to Steve Addazio to Matt Rhule to Geoff Collins were smart enough to give the keys to the special teams car to Foley and know that he would not wreck it. Foley had that thing shiny and clean and purring like a kitten and he changed the oil and filter every 3,000 miles.

Since Carey let Foley go because he “wanted to get an extra defensive coach on the field” the Owls have looked like the Keystone Cops on special teams. They can’t block kicks (they used to routinely lead the country in that department), they can’t return kicks, they can’t cover kicks, and they can’t even kick it into the damn end zone. They even have a hard time recovering onsides’ kicks. Anthony Russo doesn’t even hold on field goals any more and defenses consequently don’t even have to account for a possible fake, which makes it much easier to block field goals.

Other than that, they are doing great on special teams.

Yet, for some reason, Carey thought getting an extra defensive coach on the field was a higher priority.

How did that extra defensive coach work out against USF on Saturday? He probably had a lot to do with USF, a team that was shut out by Notre Dame, scoring 37 points.

Not good.

Enjoy the win, though, fellas. It might be the last one because two-thirds of the team looks remarkably like all thirds of The Three Stooges.

Monday: Fizzy’s Corner

Special Teams are Like Umpires

Whether he wants to admit it or not, Rod Carey cannot say his special teams by delegation produced better results than any of Ed Foley’s special teams at Temple.

Special teams are like umpires. If you don’t notice them, they are great. If you do, they are like Angel Hernandez.

Terrible.

If you don’t notice them, they are John Libka–generally considered the best balls and strikes umpire in the game today.

Last year, Temple football’s special teams were closer to Hernandez than Libka.

After Brandon McManus kicked this game-winning field goal against UConn, head coach Steve Addazio said: “Our goal was to put the ball in the center of the field and let the best kicker in the country win it for us.” He did.

For about a decade before that, nobody really noticed Temple’s special teams. Maybe not coincidentally, that started in 2009 when head coach Al Golden also assumed the head coach of the special teams’ role.

When Steve Addazio took over for Golden, he promoted tight ends coach Ed Foley who made Temple’s special teams legendary for excellence. Foley was a guy who rose to his level of competence. He’s a very competent special teams’ coach, one of the best, but as an interim head coach he proved to be a bridge too far. There can be little doubt if Foley, say, won either the Wake Forest game or the Duke game as an interim, his chances of being Temple head coach today would have been far greater than they are now.

Last year, in an administrative move, Rod Carey took Foley from the field to an off-the-field role and that caused Foley to go to Baylor and now the Carolina Panthers.

The Owls were the Keystone Cops of AAC special teams and that stung Temple fans were used to Owls making big plays in that third of the game.

“If we’re great on defense and special teams, we’re going to be in every game,” Golden said in 2009. “That’s two-thirds of the team. I really felt that special teams was an area I had to take charge of myself.”

Maybe it was Carey’s fault for letting Foley go. All we know is that, under Foley, the kicking and return coverage games were great. With pretty much the same personnel last year, they were terrible. In order to gain trust of Owls fans, it’s going to have to improve this year.

Will we ever see this stat again under this staff? Got to hope so. In this case, we’re from Missouri (show me state) and they are from NIU.

Last year, the Owls couldn’t make a routine extra point at Cincinnati and that might have cost them the East title. A block was missed. Was that the fault of the new special teams “coaches” (Carey has a couple of coaches in charge)? Maybe not. But it didn’t happen on the regular under Foley.

Under Foley, Isaiah Wright was a dynamic punt and kickoff returner in 2018. Under Carey’s coach by committee in 2019, he was just another guy. Temple always flipped the field on kickoffs. Too often last year, the Owls started drives deep in their own territory. Maybe Foley would have been able to communicate how important it was for Wright to eschew the fair catches for the reward of a big play.

The Owls were aggressive on special teams for a decade, going after blocked punts and field goals. High risk, high reward. The philosophy changed to no risk no reward last year. Disappointing. If you’ve got no athletes, that’s probably the way to go but Temple has always had athletes out the wazoo, notably but not limited to 6-5 wide receivers like Branden Mack with a 91-inch wingspan who liked to block punts. They played scared on special teams. That might be the NIU way but that’s the opposite of Temple TUFF.

Now the rebuilding of the Owls’ special teams begins. The Owls recruited a couple of high-profile kickers and Will Mobley’s job appears to be in jeopardy. Rory Bell has a longer leg (Mobley a very reliable extra point kicker) and a pedigree for success at the high school level.

Looks like to me Bell is the guy for kicking. For punting, Adam Berry had his moments and most were not good. Did not like his body language after failing to field a snap or shanking a punt. Hopefully, he has matured but thanks to recruiting, the Owls now have some other options.

Golden was right. This is 1/3 of the team and deserves attention. It did not get that last year. If the Owls are going to be successful in this department, we will not notice this aspect of the team at all.

Monday: Did You Ever Get The Feeling?

Fizzy: Temple TUFF post-Fran Brown?

Baylor had to go through this exact same thing a year ago.

Editor’s Note: Fizzy checks in after Fran Brown checked out. 

By Dave (Fizzy) Weinraub

Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I coached the junior varsity at West Philadelphia High School.

As this was an inner-city school, hardly any of the guys trying out had ever played organized football. So once they had their physical exams, we had them put on pads and a helmet from a large pile, and go through some skill tests. Of course, we wanted to see who could pass and catch, but our main objective was to find the tough guys. We knew if they were tough, we’d coach them up and find the right position.

Screenshot 2019-12-09 at 8.57.34 AM

Another thing we did was give the players themselves a chance to tell us who they thought were toughest guys by secret ballot. On more than one occasion, we were surprised because we’d overlooked someone. One of my players once said, “Are you kidding? There isn’t a guy in the neighborhood who’d mess with him.”

I’m bringing this up because Temple football recruiting is now in deep trouble. Ed Foley was gone before the season began, and now Fran Brown has bolted to help Schiano rebuild the Rutgers program. These two guys had well-established relationships with high school coaches throughout the tri-state area. I can imagine there were many phone calls to Foley and Brown from High school coaches, and the conversation might have gone something like this.

“Hey Ed (Fran), you should take a look at this kid I have. He’s not on anyone’s radar, but he’s just learning the game. He didn’t come out until he was a junior because his family moved around a lot, and he got into a little trouble. This year though, he started to blossom and is going to graduate. Maybe you should invite him to one of your camps. He’s six-two, 220, and a real hard hitter. He should make a great linebacker.”

We all know the Owls hardly ever got the three and four-star recruits. And yet, this year’s talent level was damn near the equal of any other team in our conference. We got to that level because of situations and players like I just mentioned above. We recruited the late bloomers, the overlooked, and the second team all-conference players. Now, Temple doesn’t have any coach with that kind of local rapport and recruiting experience. The entire coaching staff except for Gabe Infante is from the mid-west.

Well, it is what it is now. So what do we do? One suggestion is Coach Carey quickly look over the top recruiters from the Penn State, Maryland, and Pitt coaching staff because they all heavily recruit here. Find the best. Find the money. Make him an offer he can’t refuse.

Another example is when Matt Rhule arrived at Baylor; he hired the president of the Texas coaches association. Temple football desperately needs someone with proven relationships in the tri-state area.

 If we can’t re-establish a loyal local base of feeder coaches, we’re in deep trouble. The tough kids live here.

Wednesday: The All-Hands Bowl

Friday: A close look at North Carolina

Regular Season: Could Have Been More Special

Rod Carey’s disdain for special teams goes way back. 

About this time every year, I pour through the predictions made over the summer or before online.

Vegas had the over/under for Temple at six and the over seemed like easy money at the time and it was.

Only one national writer, the Associated Press’ Ralph Russo, had Temple doing any better than 8-4 and he also had the Owls winning the AAC East. It is important to know here that Russo is no relation to the Temple quarterback, so he wasn’t wearing Cherry-colored glasses.

edfoley

Whether he wants to admit it or not, Rod Carey cannot say his special teams by delegation produced better results than any of Ed Foley’s special teams at Temple.

Even in this space, I did not have Temple winning the AAC East simply because I did not think it was fair to expect the Owls to go to Cincinnati and beat a team that traveled 35 true or redshirt freshman to Lincoln Financial Field and extended the 2018 Owls into overtime. I disagreed with the AAC media’s consensus of the Owls finishing fourth. I thought they would at least finish third, ahead of USF, and I was right.

Still, after seeing the season unravel, the Owls probably should have done what the elder Russo said–win the AAC East. There was just too much offensive talent on this team to struggle to score 13 points at Cincy. Still, the Owls really never figured out how to utilize the talents of Ray Davis and that has to be a priority in the offseason. Throw as many blockers at the point of attack in front of him, establish the run and then the passing game benefits.

It’s hard to imagine the Owls winning anything less than eight games next year with the returning talent they have if properly utilized.


If you aren’t going
to block kicks, you
better make a difference
in returning them.
If you aren’t going to
return them, you better
be able to block them.
Do something

My thoughts on the portal will come in a future post. Just say I’m not a fan for now. Losing Kenny Yeboah was a blow, but losing Kip Patton at the same position seemed to be a blow at the time and turned out not to be.

Still, the portal bleeding must stop with Kenny if the Owls are going to go from good to great next season. You can’t go through expected losses (graduation) and then, on top of that, have younger guys leaving on their own if the program has any chance of moving forward.

Still, if the Owls hold serve–keeping guys from going to the portal and raiding a few top talented guys already in the portal–it should be a double-digit winning season next year because they have good depth in areas they lose talent (linebackers and defensive backs). Isaiah Graham-Mobley and William Kenkeuw return in areas where the Owls lose Sam Franklin, Shaun Bradley, and Chapelle Russell and at least those two guys are as good as any of those three.

Jadan Blue and Branden Mack are poised to become wide receiver stars and, if the Owls decide to return punts next year instead of fair catching them, the special teams immediately get better.

Quarterback Anthony Russo improved from a 14 touchdown 14 interception year to 21 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions this season. Contrast that to P.J. Walker’s “sophomore slump” of 13 TDs and 15 INTs and that bodes well for even further improvement in that area.

Head coach Rod Carey, though, will have to be able to face hard facts. The hard facts are that Temple’s special teams returned five kicks for touchdowns and blocked five punts in 2018 and went 0-for-0 in those areas in 2019. If you aren’t going to block kicks, you better make a difference in returning them. If you aren’t going to return them, you better be able to block them. Do something and don’t just be vanilla on special teams, which Al Golden always said was one-third of the game of football. Not only did the Owls fail to make a difference on special teams this year, they did to themselves on those teams what they’ve been doing to others for the past decade. The level of screwups this year on Temple special teams in the post-Golden Era was unmatched.

Golden was right about that, as he was about a power running game. Both are the essence of Temple tough (TUFF) and, hopefully, someone will knock some sense into his head in the offseason. Maybe Ed Foley will enter the assistant coaching transfer portal (just kidding, we know coaches don’t have one).

Hell, to see evidence of a change in special teams’ philosophy by the bowl game would be a nice indicator that what happened or didn’t happen the dozen prior games will be unacceptable going forward.

Thursday: Fizzy’s Recap in Verse

Saturday: A Dream Bowl Matchup

Carey on Foley: Plausible Deniability

retained

Carey’s litmus test going forward is to protect these other three guys and give them room to thrive.

A few weeks ago we wrote that Rod Carey had some “splaining to do” after the incident that caused Temple football to be jettisoned from a loyal soldier, Ed Foley.

The explanation came in a recent Marc Narducci story where Carey said that he had “too many offensive coaches on the field, including myself” and wanted to put a talented young defensive assistant, Tyler Yelk, on the field.

Narducci has been on fire recently, with a piece stating that Isaiah Wright wants an expanded role and another giving detail on Manny Diaz’s departure from Temple, but his stories detailing both sides of the Foley issue might have been the best of the summer.

Foley said he was leaving to go “with someone I trust and respect” and the implication was that he did not trust and respect Carey.

Then Narducci came back with Carey’s side of the story. 

A lot of fans, this one included, are still irked that Foley is gone but, given Carey’s explanation, it makes sense.

TLNXruN

Pretty much every Temple fan now watching how Carey treats our beloved trio of Adam DiMichele, Fran Brown and Gabe Infante.

One, Foley could have remained in an off-field capacity if he wanted and both men admitted that. Two, Temple did seem to be top-heavy with offensive coaches in a program that, as Carey has said, “hangs its hat on defense.”

Plausible deniability should Foley’s absence be felt this season. By that, I mean deniability that he’s trying to get rid of the Temple holdovers in favor of NIU guys. The litmus test going forward for Carey is to protect the other three guys (Fran Brown, Gabe Infante and Adam DiMichele) and give them a chance to thrive at Temple. Rod, we’re watching you. 

The bottom line is that Temple, which generally never had to worry about special teams, has one more thing to worry about now. That’s why Carey gets paid the big bucks, though, to make sure everything runs smoothly, including special teams.

The Owls have a serviceable kicker in Will Mobley, who did a nice job when Boston College transfer Aaron Boumerhi had a hip flexor last year. Boomer had the range, while Mobley was essentially a solid extra point kicker. They also have the nation’s best returner, Isaiah Wright, so the special teams should be OK.

Where I think Temple fans will really notice Foley gone is in the area of blocked punts, field goals, and extra points. Foley consistently had the Owls in the nation’s top 10 in those categories because he was an aggressive coach who went after kicks. There is little in Carey’s history to suggest NIU was anywhere near as consistent in that area as Temple was.

When Al Golden got here and brought Foley with him, he said special teams were as important as offense and defense and he practiced what he preached. Let’s hope Carey continues that tradition. 

Monday: Up Against The Walls