5 Reasons To Roll P.J. Out

Click on this great photo of P.J. Walker for details.

When I first saw P.J. Walker play quarterback for Temple University, I had two overriding thoughts.

One,  he reminded me of a fellow AAC quarterback at the time, Teddy Bridgewater, and, two, I thought there was a good chance he would be gone by his senior season.

That’s how good I thought he was and that’s how good I thought he was going to become. He took over as a starter a few games into his true freshman year and compiled 20 touchdown passes against only eight interceptions. If the numbers kept going up, I imagined he’d have 25 touchdowns as a sophomore and 30 as a junior and 30 touchdown passes is a ticket to getting drafted.

A couple of things happened on the way to him not declaring for the NFL draft a year early. One, he was the victim of a horrific coaching scheme as a sophomore that gave him no pocket protection from a tailback or fullback and plenty of empty backfields. It was not his fault that he regressed to 13 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. (And I told him that after the next Cherry and White game.) He bounced back nicely as a junior with 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions, but that was in 14 games. He had better stats in nine games his freshman year and he started only seven games that season.

That was P.J. Walker and I want the old P.J. Walker back. As Phillip Walker, he has only eight touchdown passes against nine interceptions. To get the old P.J. back, the Temple coaches are going to have to roll him out—if not all of the time, at least 80 percent of the time.

It should be a no-brainer and should have been done about six games ago.


Here are five reasons why you do that:

He Sees The Field Better

At 5-foot-11, when he drops back, guys who are 6-foot-5 are running  and jumping at him. It’s only logical that he sees the field better when he leaves the pocket and rolls out to his right. It also opens up the other side of the field for wheel routes and throwback passes to the tight ends (hint: Central Bucks School district products Colin Thompson and Jake O’Donnell).

The Threat of Running

By rolling out, P.J. brings up the linebackers and the safeties to cover the threat of him running.  The linebackers and safeties have to make a quick decision. Quick decisions lead to bad decisions.

If Temple rolls the pocket and throws off play action, it will win. If it keeps asking P.J. to throw into tight windows, it will lose. Simple as that.

If Temple rolls the pocket and throws off play action, it will win. If it keeps asking P.J. to throw into tight windows in the pocket over taller linemen, it will lose. Simple as that.

Coverage Mismatches

Those linebackers and safeties have pass coverage responsibilities and, by coming up on run support, they leave the Temple receivers they are assigned to cover. P.J. can then see the field and toss the intermediate pass to Temple tight ends or wide receivers who now are running free through the secondary.


By rolling out, P.J. is no longer the sitting duck he is when protection breaks down on a more conventional dropback pass. He now has the option to run in open space and pick up a first down should the linebackers and safeties stay back. That leaves the No. 1 reason why P.J. should roll out.

Red Zone Offense


Nothing drives defenses more insane than the threat of a running quarterback near the goal line. They are damned if they come up in run support because the option of throwing to the back of the end zone is always there. They are damned if they do not come up on run support because P.J. has the speed to get to the pylon.

Temple becomes a much better team if the Owls stop trying to jam Phillip Walker into a square Tom Brady peg when P.J. Walker fits more nicely into a Russell Wilson hole.  The sooner the Owl coaches realize that, the better their chances of getting out of the quicksand of mediocrity where Phillip and his teammates are mired now.

Thursday: Meet Your New Kicker


5 Stats For Winners

Temple Tuff goes way back to this brawl at the end of the game (and the video). Thanks to David Nelson for it, all filmed at Temple Stadium.


A quick google (or was it dogpile?) search found the first reference to “statistics are for losers” with a time stamp on it came in 1962, when Associated Press reported: “The Cardinals outgained the 49ers, 314-215, [in a 24-17 defeat] but ‘statistics are for losers,’ [coach Wally] Lemm said.”

That was originally attributed to former Tennessee head coach Bob Neyland, but there was no date on the statement so we know it goes back sometime before 1962. Neyland coached at Tennessee between 1926 and 1952, so it could be way, way back.

Statistics are for losers but, in effect, are they really?

Here are five statistics we’d like to see that would guarantee Temple our minimum goal of breaking a more meaningful stat, the school record for wins (10, tied by two). The Owls only need to do one of these five to get to 11; anything above that would be gravy and probably add to thet win total:

AAC Championship - Temple v Houston

Phillip Walker.

30 touchdown passes

When he was P.J., Phillip Walker threw for 20 touchdowns after grabbing the job for good midway through his freshman season. With no pocket protection his sophomore year, he fell into a sophomore slump that had little to do with his own play but more to do with an offensive scheme that allowed defense a free run (blitzes) on Walker just about every third down. Now that the coaching staff has provided him with the pocket protection of a back and even very good blocker in Nick Sharga, Walker has a much better view of the field.  If Walker throws 10 more touchdown passes this season (one more per game), the Owls should get to 11 wins. (Twice, he kept the interceptions for a season down to eight and that has to be a goal, too.)

P.J. Walker, Jager Gardner, Temple football,

Jager Gardner

2,000 yards rushing

Between Jahad Thomas (1,278 yards, 17 touchdowns) a year ago and Jager Gardner, Ryquell Armstead and David Hood, this is challenging, but doable.

40 sacks

Before the Penn State opener, Temple head coach Matt Rhule set a goal of 40 sacks for his defense. When the Owls recorded 10 sacks against the Nittany Lions, fans assumed that goal might be achieved midway through the season. Instead, the Owls needed 14 games to get 32 sacks. They don’t need to get 10 sacks a game, but a more consistent 5-7 sacks per game should get them to a figure they should have had last season.  The overall speed of the defense—with possible kickoff returner Haason Reddick as one of the defensive ends—should make this happen. Reddick is without a doubt the fastest defensive end I have ever seen at Temple.


Romond Deloatch

Someone making 15 Touchdown Catches

Bruce Francis did this in in the 2007 season and, if a guy like Jahad Thomas is split out into the slot (this would be made possible only if either Jager Garner or Ryquell Armstead prove they can provide his RB production), he’s got the breakaway skills to match that. Thomas’ position in the pros will be as a slot receiver, not a running back, so the Owls will be doing him a big favor by splitting him out for his senior year.  If not, either Marshall Ellick, Romond Deloatch, Ventell Bryant or Adonis Jennings have the talent to make it happen. Francis, though, had the talent and the drive and one of those three needs to find a stick shift to get to the next level.

Twenty-six interceptions

With Sam Shaffer getting nine of them all by himself, the Temple Owls led the nation in interceptions with 26 in 1981. The coach of the defensive backs at the time was city legend Dick Bedesem, who also had stints as head coach at Villanova and Delaware Valley College. Temple has a “Willie Mays” type centerfielder at free safety in Sean Chandler, and his vision and break-on-the-ball skills should make him a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Any time the ball is thrown into the center of the field, it has a chance of coming back the other way. Chandler led the nation with two interception returns for touchdowns a year ago.

Monday: Temple’s Next NFL Back