SMU hit the jackpot with Dykes

A competent coach would have given this guy a lead blocking fullback and designed a play-action passing game off fakes to him after establishing the run. But no, Rod Carey wants to do the same RPO stuff at Temple he did at NIU. It’s not working, Rod.

While the jury is still out on Rod Carey’s tenure at Temple (although the deliberation room is hostile), they’ve reached a verdict about SMU’s Sonny Dykes in Dallas.

Innocent of any charges he cannot coach after mixed reviews at a brief stint of head coach at California of the PAC-12.

Carey, on the other hand, is not facing a friendly jury after turning an eight-win Temple team into a likely 1-7 squad this season.

When Temple wanted to rebuild its program, it went with an up-and-coming coordinator, Al Golden, who was a top recruiter at Boston College, Penn State and Virginia. When it wanted stability after Steve Addazio, it went with a Golden disciple in Matt Rhule. It went somewhat back to the prior model with Geoff Collins, the difference being his recruiting chops were in the South. With Carey, the Owls went for a G5 head coach.

SMU did it differently, grabbing a Power 5 head coach who had some success at a higher level than the AAC and what Dykes has done at SMU is certainly more impressive than what Carey has done here.

The two coaching styles compare and contrast this Saturday (noon, ESPN+) at Lincoln Financial Field before a “capacity” crowd of 7,500 fans. (Capacity in that the City of Philadelphia will only allow that many Temple fans to enter the stadium due to COVID protocols.)

Dykes has a 21-12 record at SMU (including 6-1 this season and ranked No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches poll) and that includes getting his feet wet with a 5-7 opening season. Dykes has done it a little differently from Carey, turning last year into a 10-2 record season by grabbing 15 starters, mostly high-level Power 5 recruits, out of the transfer portal.

Dykes did it by offering guys an immediate chance to play and no one benefited from that more than starting quarterback Shane Buechele. While at Texas, he led the Longhorns to a win over Iowa State but lost his job to current starter Sam Ehlinger and transferred to SMU.

Dykes is a players’ coach who is able to keep his star players happy.

This is a Ray Davis’ retweet from Halloween

Contrast this to the gruff style of Carey, who is hemorrhaging good players at a level Temple fans have never seen. Last year, the Owls lost quarterback Toddy Centeio in the portal to Colorado State, as well as AAC Defensive Player of the Year Quincy Roche (Miami) and tight end Kenny Yeboah (Ole Miss). No one knows where Ray Davis is headed but losing a player who gained over 900 yards from scrimmage as the Owls’ best running back is a continuation of the bleeding.

Compare that to the places Carey was able to attract players from: Wake Forest (Manny Walker), NIU (C.J. Perez) and Dayton (Michael Niese.)

Usually, opposing coaches gush over Temple prior to the game but not this time. When asked about Temple, this is the only thing he had to say about the Owls: “We just have to worry about ourselves more than we have to worry about Temple.”

No one can blame him because he has a happy group of players and evidence points to that we cannot same the same about Carey’s Temple group right now.

The jury has reached a favorable verdict about Dykes and, while the foreman hasn’t announced anything yet, it’s hard to find anyone giving Carey a thumbs up right now.

Late Saturday Night: Game Analysis

Monday: Fizzy’s Corner

Some early stat predictions

russopj

Anthony Russo (circled) needs to improve by only two touchdown passes to break the single-season record held by both Adam DiMichele and P.J. Walker (above).

Weekly phone calls from Temple trying to sell season tickets is one indication that a full season will be announced soon.

How soon?

Your guess is as good as mine.

The school recently announced it will have both online and in-person classes and the second part of that pretty much confirms the requirement for a football season.

So here goes some early (on-the-record) stat predictions based on a full 12-game regular season (not including a potential bowl game):

We’ll repost this after the season to see how right we were but going on record is important.

grayunis

Quarterback

Anthony Russo is poised for an outstanding senior season. Even if he has a merely “good” one, he will break at least a couple of career passing records at Temple.

His sophomore season stats were these:

Fourteen touchdown passes, and the same number of interceptions. He had 2,563 yards in 2018; 2,861 in 2019. The record is 3,295 by P.J. Walker in that championship season (2016).

He improved those numbers by seven and three, both on the good side, in 2019 regular-season stats and, based on that math, we’re going for these predictions for 2020:

Prediction: 28 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and it’s not a reach that he will become the first Temple quarterback ever to have a 3,296-yard season so we will go for that. LSU’s Joe Burrows went from 19 touchdown passes to 60 his senior year, so it’s not out of the question that Anthony throws for 39 and ties the career record (74) of  Walker, but we’re not getting that crazy. We’ll take just the same improvement he made last year for next year.

If P.J. (who started the better part of four years to Russo’s three) still holds the career touchdown record, that’s perfectly understandable. The other two records are within reach, though.

Receivers: (Jadan Blue and Branden Mack):

Blue set single-season records for Temple in both receptions (95) and yards (1,097). That was a terrific improvement from his 2018 season. He did, however, only have four touchdown receptions and those numbers are going to have to improve to get attention of NFL scouts looking for impact-makers. So we’re going to go with fewer receptions (90) and yards (1,007) but we’re going to add five more touchdown receptions:

kwenkeu

William Kwenkeu (35) revives his Gasparilla Bowl MVP performance by leading the Owls in tackles this season.

Prediction: Blue, 90 receptions, 1,007 yards, and nine touchdown receptions.

Mack had seven touchdown catches and is taller (6-5 to 6-1) so we’re going to give him those seven and raise his number of receptions from 44 to 61 and his yards from 667 to 897.

Running backs

Ray Davis had 900 rushing yards in his first season as a freshman.

Prediction: He will raise that to 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns his second season simply because Rod Carey and staff will realize they have a big-time playmaker on their hands and won’t make the same mistake of game-planning 26 passing plays in the first 34 snaps from scrimmage (see Cincinnati game, 2019).

Defense

Sacks: Interior tackle Ifeanyi Maijeh will lead with 9.

Interceptions: Safety Amir Tyler with 5.

Tackles: Linebacker William Kwenkeu with 88.

Tackles for loss: Linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley with 11.

OK, those are guesses. Guys will have to remain healthy and, as always, someone will come from nowhere to surprise everyone. My guess is that a DE named Nickolos  Madourie  (who had 17.5 sacks as a JUCO in a single season) will be just one of those guys and there could be many. Graham-Mobley could lead in overall tackles and Kwenkeu–who had two sacks in a bowl game–could lead in tackles for losses.

That’s part of what makes college football great and that’s why we hope there is a concrete announcement saying we will have it soon. Save this post and clip it and hammer me if I’m wrong in December.

If I’m above 50/50, I will take it. More important is getting to those double-digit wins which will mean the profile of all the above guys will rise considerably more than anything they can put on the stat sheet.

Monday: A Potentially Special Addition

 

Comparing seasons: A soft 8-5

 

In the entire modern history of Temple football, the Owls have had eight seasons similar to the one they had in 2019.

The most similar one was the same 8-5 the Owls posted in the previous year, but the Owls also had a 9-4 season in 2011, an 8-4 season in 2010, a 9-4 season in 2009 and a 7-4 season in 1990.

The difference is a stark one.

armsteadcherry

For Temple to be really successful in 2020, Rod Carey will have to put the ball in Ray Davis’ hands as much as Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins did with Ryquell Armstead

In none of those other seasons did the Owls suffer three blowout losses like they did in 2019. To me, despite the two wins over then top 25 teams, that’s a soft 8-5.

If Pat Kraft pulled Rod Carey into his office for a year-end review like most of us people in regular jobs have, that’s the one criticism he should have of his old Indiana football buddy.

“Rod, great job beating two top 25 teams but you’ve got to cut that blowout shit out.”

Somehow, though, I think Rod-with a $10 million buyout–is on cruise control at Temple and Kraft is offering no year-end reviews.

Take what Geoff Collins did vs. Carey in comparison. In my mind, Carey still retains bragging rights against Mr. Mayhem because he beat Collins Power 5 team with Group of Five talent, 24-2. If that changes this season in Atlanta, though, that all goes out the window.

Screenshot 2020-03-26 at 11.12.30 PM

Today is our 11th anniversary on wordpress after switching from blogspot

Still, the Apples vs. Apples comparison–Temple talent under Collins vs. Temple talent under Carey–has to objectively go to Collins and that comes from a guy who was a lot tougher on Collins and his offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude than I ever was on Carey and Mike Uremovich.

Here’s why: Collins’ 8-5 season was way more competitive in the five losses than Carey’s 8-5 season was. Collins’ team led, 34-26, at halftime against a top 10 team on the road, UCF, before falling, 52-40. Carey’s team lost at home to the same talent, 63-21.

Carey also lost head-scratchers at SMU (45-21) and to a 6-6 UNC team (55-13). In both games, Temple was a 6.5-point underdog. It wasn’t just me that saw Temple as the underperforming team, it was the nation.

Our reasons have been chronicled in this space until our faces have turned Jadan Blue. Temple has been a run-first team under previous coaches and the Owls used their toughness along the offensive line and in the run game to extend opponents into the fourth quarter. Carey bringing a RPO to Temple from NIU has needlessly opened areas for the bad guys to exploit and run away from Temple. Nothing would open passing lanes for All-American potential receivers like Blue and Branden Mack than a strong running game led by Ray Davis. Nothing makes those passing windows tighter than a passive commitment to the run.

We posted these same criticisms of Matt Rhule after his first two RPO years and he was flexible enough to change his style and increase his pay from $2.4 million per year in his final contract at Temple to $4.7 at Baylor and $6.3 at Carolina.

So far, Matt hasn’t cut us a residual check and we don’t want one.

All we want is for Temple to get back to being Temple. Run first, extend the game into the fourth quarter and not be embarrassed in losses. If Carey gets a pay raise for returning the Temple brand, we will kiss his ass incessantly and thank him without expecting anyting  in return.

If he’s too stubborn to change, he will never be successful here but a lot of 6-6 seasons will keep him around for a decade or so and pay him comfortably because Temple never fires mediocre coaches. To me, that’s not good enough.

Temple should always strive for excellence and reject medicority the same way it rejected failure more than a decade ago.

Monday: Another kick in the nuts to the G5

Wednesday: An April Anthology

Friday: Is That All There is?

TU-UNC: So it comes down to this

bagger

So it comes down to this.

All those videos of weightlifting in the offseason, two coaching signing ceremonies, practicing in the snow and all the other work comes down to one chance to shine on national television against a Power 5 foe.


Also, if the Owls come
out in anything other
than Cherry and White
in pre-game warmups,
call the bookies and
put all your chips on
blue. Since and including
the historic win over Penn
State, the Owls have played
66 games. They have worn
some combination of Cherry
and White in 51 of those games
where they are 40-11. In the
others, wearing black or gray,
they are 3-12

Temple could not have asked for more than this, a date with a respected ACC team on ESPN behind what by all accounts should be a large Owl crowd.

Nobody in the national media with the exception of AP beat writer Ralph Russo picked the Owls to play for the AAC championship. Even this site, which often dons the Cherry and White-colored glasses, picked Cincinnati to win the East and the Owls to finish third behind UCF.

That’s exactly what happened.

In those cases in the past, the third-place team in an AAC division was “designated for assignment” meaning a Florida bowl against a directional CUSA or Sun Belt foe.

Temple drew a pretty good straw in UNC, a team that not only beat South Carolina (which beat Georgia) but came within a point of knocking off No. 2 Clemson. This is a tall order the Owls will face (high noon, tomorrow, ESPN) but, if they play more like they did against Memphis and Georgia Tech than they did against SMU and UCF, they have a good chance.

Who knows?

Screenshot 2019-12-09 at 8.57.34 AM

I certainly don’t.

If the line is, to quote Mike Missanelli, “telling you something” it is telling you Temple. North Carolina opened as a 5 1/2-point favorite and that line has dropped steadily to 5 and now 4 1/2 points. That’s a lot of money going in Temple’s direction.

History says something else. Temple coach Rod Carey does well against the Big 10 in regular-season games (5-2) but not so much against anybody in bowl games (0-6). He doesn’t have much of a history at all against AAC teams. His predecessor at Northern Illinois, Dave Doreen, the head coach at North Carolina State, just came off a 41-10 loss to the Tar Heels so let’s hope those two are no longer talking. Maybe Carey’s dismal bowl history is because of how he handles the month of extra practices. Or maybe he’s just due for a win.

We will find out in less than 24 hours but my hunch, as it is before every Temple game, is that if the Owls can exploit some of the opponents’ weaknesses and enhance their own strengths, they will come out on top.

North Carolina is 24th in the nation in average passing yards per game behind a future Heisman Trophy candidate in freshman Sam Howell (285 ypg). It is 41st in rushing yardage. If the Owls behind Quincy Roche and company can get to Howell early and often, that mitigates a UNC strength and forces them to use a running game that has been mediocre at best.

Plus, the Owls themselves should run the ball to set up the pass and not vice-versa but that’s a theme we’ve been preaching here for all year but Carey hasn’t listened. Only in the second half after Carey fed Ray Davis, did the Owls have any success in the passing game in a crucial loss to Cincinnati. They threw the ball 26 of the first 34 plays at Cincy and that’s a recipe for disaster. Maybe try running 26 of the first 34 plays tomorrow.

It could not hurt.

Feeding the beast early and often behind Matt Hennessy probably doubles the chances that Anthony Russo is effective in the play-action passing game.

Also, if the Owls come out in anything other than Cherry and White in pre-game warmups, call the bookies and put all your chips on blue. Since and including the historic win over Penn State, the Owls have played 66 games. They have worn some combination of Cherry and White in 51 of those games where they are 40-11. In the others, wearing black or gray, they are 3-12.

When it comes to predicting these unpredictable bowls, the color of the unis could be as viable an indicator as any matchups.

Saturday: Game Analysis

Monday: Season Analysis