Once things return to normal, what next?

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Gabe Infante is a legendary high school football coach in Philadelphia.

In as perfect a world as possible for Temple football, Rod Carey would go from eight wins his first season to double digits his second and win two championships every six years along a couple of bowl games.

I’m not greedy enough to think Temple winning a championship every year is possible because a lot of schools like SMU, UCF and Cincinnati are also trying to do the same thing. Still, Temple is in a perfect geographic spot–the exact middle of 46 percent of the nation’s population–and should be able to pan enough gold from that mine to dominate the AAC.

The world has changed a lot in the past two months, but that doesn’t stop us from dreaming about what could be once everything gets back to normal. Everything will get back to some semblance of normal because the Spanish Flu–which killed far more people in 1918 than this virus will in 2020–did not last forever.

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National High School Coach of the Year Gabe Infante will have a positive impact on both Temple’s game plans and recruiting

After a year of watching Rod Carey, here is what I think is more likely to happen when things return to normal: Rod wins 6-7-8 games a year, probably doesn’t get Temple a championship and, as a consequence, does not become the hot prospect Al Golden, Steve Addazio, Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins were seen as. Temple, for its part, does what Temple always does: Keep mediocre coaches around forever.

There is, though, a possible third scenario where Carey makes Temple the NIU of the AAC and grabs a lot of championships and increases his 5-2 record against Big 10 teams to an even more healthy number. Maybe even wins a bowl game for once but that probably won’t happen at Temple if he delivers a title first (see Matt Rhule).

That means someone will eat Carey’s hefty buyout ($10 million this year, $8 million next and $6.5 million after Year Three), Temple would get another championship and everybody will be happy.

What happens then?

Temple could go back to hiring promising coordinators or grab another successful MAC-level head coach.

Or do something different, like elevate an assistant.

IF they go in the latter direction, they could do a whole lot worse than Gabe Infante, who is local, knows the recruiting landscape in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and, for a decade, had the second-best coached football team on the planet in St. Joseph’s Prep. (I will concede that the Bill Belicheck teams of this century were better-coached in a tougher place to win, the NFL.) Side note: As a long-time afficianado of high school football, there was no better-coached, least-penalized team I’ve ever seen at that level than St. Joseph’s Prep. The Hawks’ offensive line sprinted to the line of scrimmage–every other team walked–and then would pummel the defensive line on each and every snap. That’s damn good coaching right there.

If Infante can take an inner-city school six  blocks from Temple to being the Pennsylvania power of this century, he can work wonders up the street with a lot more resources and a $17 million practice facility.

Something for Temple AD Pat Kraft to put in the back of his mind when things get back to normal.

Monday: Two Steps Back, One Step Forward

 

Carey on Foley: Plausible Deniability

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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.

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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

Gabe Infante Hints at New Offense

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National High School Coach of the Year Gabe Infante will have a positive impact on both Temple’s game plans and recruiting

A few weeks back, a writer for Philly Voice named Joe Santoliquito (who I will henceforth drop the journalistic norm and refer to him as Joe in any second reference) made a big splash by spilling some locker room gossip about Carson Wentz.

No names were attached to the quotes in that piece but it got a lot of attention.

Nice story and it got a lot of clicks for a website called Philly Voice but a more newsworthy story Joe did last week received as much splash as a pebble skipping across a puddle on 13th Street.

In other words, none.

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It deserves mention here because it says a lot more about the other Lincoln Financial Field football tenant, Temple University.  Full disclosure here: As a big fan of the Catholic League, I’ve followed Infante’s teams closely over the last decade and I can write without hesitation that it was the best-coached team, college, high school or NFL, I’ve seen in that time frame. Infante will have a positive impact on Temple’s preparation and recruiting, which has been lacking in the past couple of years.

Joe did a story on new Temple running backs’ coach Gabe Infante and, in it, Gabe went on record as saying more revealing than anyone said in that Wentz story: “There’s no chance to catch your breath and learn how to do it, while you’re installing a new offense.”

On the surface, that’s a pretty innocuous remark. Of course, moving to a new job would naturally involve a new offense except for the fact that St. Joseph’s Prep and Northern Illinois ran essentially the same read-option offense a year ago. It was also pretty much the same offensive look Dave Patenaude ran at Temple last year.

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While Prep and NIU had the personnel to run such an offense, Temple does not. The Owls have a classic NFL skill set passer in Anthony Russo and fans had to cringe every time Patenaude was asking a talent like that to slide, which he did rather well.

Maybe this group of accomplished coaches looked at the current Temple personnel grouping and decided to fit the offense around the skills of the players they have and not tried to force a system onto ill-fitting players. The offense Temple should run is the exact same system Bill Belichick ran while leading the New England Patriots to the NFL championship–heavy use of the fullback to establish the run and explosive downfield plays in the passing game as a result of play-action.

Definitely the antithesis of the RPO game and something to look forward to in the weeks ahead.

Joe wrote a story that had a lot more meat to it than his Wentz one because it attached a name to a quote and hinted at real positive change.

We should find out soon enough but, with Infante around, the Owls should be in pretty good shape.

Saturday: Pure Gold

Tuesday: The Annual Season Ticket Call

Thursday: 5 Things to Watch in Spring Practice