Over time, the players who Stan Drayton added to the Temple University football fold will contribute in their own way to the future success of the Owls.
What was apparent with the 24 new signees is that Drayton and company have a plan to address the needs of the organization and those needs might be fixed judging on five 2022 plays we’d like to have back, in no particular order:
The Tipped Pass _ The tipped pass against Rutgers that resulted an interception that beat the Owls, 16-14, before a large Homecoming Crowd wasn’t the result as much of E.J. Warner’s small stature as it was of a pass rush that got up on him too fast. The Owls addressed that need with some beef on the offensive line, including California JUCO Diego Barajas (6-6, 300), St. Peter’s Prep’s Eric King (6-3, 314), Wyoming Seminary’s Melvin Siani (6-4, 275) Clearwater Central Catholic’s Kevin Terry (6-5, 260), and St. Mark’s Luke Watson (6-5, 272).
The 1st and Goal Call _ More of a coaching problem than a recruiting one, that could be chalked up to Everett Withers taking over at the Navy game. With the Owls down by 3, a great catch by Amad Anderson set them up in ideal position to go ahead and win the game in the final minute (against a triple-option team) with a touchdown, not a field goal. First and goal at the Navy 5 and you’ve got to use some imagination there. They had trouble moving the ball all day on the ground and yet the first play was a handoff into the middle of the line for no gain. Had they rolled Warner away from the rush and tried a throwback pass to the tight end across the field, that probably would have resulted in 1) a touchdown; 2) a holding call in the end zone and Temple probably wins that game, 24-20, instead of losing it 27-20 in overtime. Maybe the new offensive linemen help but better awareness of play call and personnel was probably more responsible for that loss.
The 3d and 1 Call _ Against ECU, trying a pass at midfield on a 3d-and-1 play was a real head scratcher. The Owls have a 6-4, 252-pound player who might have gotten the first down with a quarterback sneak but decided not to use that skill set. Had to think Drayton, by calling a pass on third down, had already decided it was four-down territory but, after a Mike Houston timeout, changed his mind and punted. Bad news both ways because, by that time, Drayton knew he was kicking it to a team that already scored more than 40 points. A team that doesn’t have confidence in getting a yard down by running on third down probably deserves to lose and the Owls did that day. A championship team can’t be forced to pass on 3d and 1 going forward.
The Kickoff Return _ In the same ECU game, the third-down call would have been moot had they not given up a kickoff return for a touchdown. While the special teams covered relatively well, every other team in the league had a kicker who was at least 70 percent on touchbacks. Temple only had 28 percent of its kickoffs driven through the end zone and that’s a problem that needs to be addressed. There are plenty of kickers who can boot it consistently through the end zone. Temple is aware of the problem as they tried to recruit Hawaii specialist Kyler Halvorsen. If they can’t get him, they need to get someone of his caliber.
The Clock _ At Houston, the Owls had a first down with 2:13 left in the game. They scored with 1:22 left on a fourth-down pass to Zae Baines. If they had done a better job killing more than that minute or so between the downs, Baines might have scored with 22 seconds left, rather than 1:22 and Clayton Tune’s job might have been that much harder.
Those plays were the difference between a bowl bid and a second-consecutive 3-9 season. The Owls addressed some of the issues from a personnel standpoint last Wednesday, but they still need a kickoff specialist and a big-time running back.
Fortunately, the Owls have four scholarships left and the portal is still open.
Friday: Numbers Game