Difference between USF and Temple: Commitment

The proposed new stadium at USF was unveiled to the press last month .

All you have to do to figure out the difference between USF and Temple football is look at the national perception.

USF head coach Jeff Scott was hired a full year and a month AFTER Rod Carey yet Scott is listed as No. 1 on the coaches hot seat site and Carey is nowhere to be found.

The perception there, at least from those who run that site is this: Scott’s seat is warm as hell because USF won’t tolerate a poor season coming off a one-win fall and Temple will.

There’s a lot to that because it’s true.

USF has fired two coaches since Al Golden performed CPR on Temple football and Temple has fired zero coaches. Sure, one of the reasons was that it was successful enough not to need that option, but The Rod Carey Error will provide the first real test to Temple’s commitment for fielding a winning team.

If the team loses to USF, it will be magnified.

Proposed site of new USF stadium. Neighbors live across the street and to the right.

USF displayed its commitment to football last month when the President announced plans to build a new stadium on campus while Temple, having already approved the funding for its own stadium three years ago, allowed no more than 20 or so neighbors to shut down the project.

Temple appears to have thrown up its hands and given up without even trying alternative methods like moving the site from 15th Street or marketing the new stadium the ” North Philly Tribute Center” and telling the community the stadium will be for them 359 days and the university for just six. Temple already has a large area for athletics at Broad and Master and has met no community opposition there. Maybe moving that to 15th and Norris and putting a stadium closer to Center City could satisfy all involved.

South Florida, like Temple, also has on-campus neighbors who objected to getting a stadium done. USF believes the stadium is the greater good and, once built, the community will realize it as well. Unlike USF, Temple allowed a few loud voices to table the project. USF’s interim president said “we’re going to get this done.” Temple’s new president, Dr. Jason Wingard, deflected a similar question when he said the school was committed to its deal with Lincoln Financial Field.

USF plays in a pro stadium, too, but realizes even a crowd of 20 or 30K rattling around a 70K-seat stadium looks horrible. It looks closer to 10 people than 70,000 and, if the perception is your product is not successful, that’s even more important than whether it actually is. USF has come to that conclusion. At one time Temple did, too. That ship has apparently sailed.

The latest evidence of national perception came on Sunday night when the books set USF as a 3.5-point favorite. That despite the fact that USF entered its game on Saturday with only one touchdown pass on the season and Temple, coming into its game at Cincinnati, had the No. 1 pass defense in the country. (A misleading stat because Temple plays a three-man front and often drops eight into coverage, allowing opposing running games to gouge the Owls on the ground.)

What can be done to turn around that perception?

The only thing that solves anything in big-time college sports: Winning. If Temple isn’t favored to beat the only team it defeated in a one-win season last year, just when will it happen?

Not this year. At least not unless Temple rips off a winning streak starting now.

Temple has to beat USF to begin to change minds, then come back and complete the Florida sweep against UCF at Lincoln Financial Field. It should not be that hard.

The fact that few nationally believe it will happen is in and of itself a big problem for Temple.

Friday: USF Preview

We’ll find out if TU football is fixed soon

Temple’s last loss to USF was this 44-7 black helmet embarrassment two years ago.

That old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” certainly doesn’t apply to Temple football these days.

Based on one game, Temple football is broke. The evidence certainly was there for all to see in a 31-29 loss to Navy on Saturday night.

For those who don’t have ESPN+ you can watch two guys watching and describing the game by cli
cking on this link

We will find out soon if the season is broken tomorrow, though. There’s no team worse in the AAC than USF and, if the Owls can’t beat the Bulls, there’s serious doubt that they can beat anyone else. That game will be played in front of family and friends (about 500) at Lincoln Financial Field and on TV (ESPN+) with the rest of the Owl fans watching from home.

Consider this: USF is coming off a 44-24 home loss to an ECU team that itself was coming off a 20-point loss to Georgia State. Not Georgia or even Georgia Tech, but Georgia State. Even coming off that loss, ECU was able to post its first win over USF since 2014, the year it was ranked No. 19 nationally (and lost to Temple).

Temple certainly went into the season thinking it was better than both ECU and USF but the Navy performance raised some doubts. The Navy game was the second in a row that the Owls underperformed from the standpoint of national perspective. In the bowl game against North Carolina, they entered as a 6.5-point underdog and lost, 55-13. Against Navy, they were anything from a 3-7-point favorite (depending on the day of the week) and lost, 31-29.

National confidence is still there in the Owls as they entered this one as a 10.5-point favorite but, no matter how much talk there is inside the Edberg Olson Complex about pad level, fans know what they saw with their two eyes:

One, the defense couldn’t stop the run;

Two, they couldn’t make the most obvious of two-point conversion calls in the red zone (a lob to a 6-6 wide receiver against a 5-10 corner).

For those up early Saturday morning, you can hear the excuses by watching 6abc between 9:30-9:50 a.m.

Three, they saw on the film that Navy couldn’t stop a fullback all season but Temple refused to improvise and adjust enough to use one in order to win an important game because, you know, that’s not the way we did things at NIU.

Any one of those adjustments would have probably made Temple 1-0 at this point. Making none of them bordered on coaching malfeasance.

That’s the definition of broken.

Maybe the first part, being overwhelmed physically in the run game, had a lot to do with the second because the scheme to stop that run game was also designed by the same coaching staff that decided on a horrible two-point conversion call.

Whatever, the responsibility for the defeat lies at a well-paid coaching staff that didn’t do its job well enough. Other well-paid coaching staffs, at BYU and Air Force, were able to take similar talent and perform at a higher level against Navy than Temple was.

After the game, that same coaching staff talked more about pad level on the field than the coaching ability off of it.

Right now, as I see it, that’s the broken part. Pad level, schmad level. The braintrust will need to be fixed first. We will find out if they can adjust the head level soon enough.

Late Saturday: Game Analysis

Fizzy closes the book on USF

Editor’s Note: If Fizzy, as loyal a long-time fan and season-ticket-holder as he is, says he won’t sit in the cold for the final two games (which he did in the last story), then you know our attendance is not going to approach the 30K average it has through the first five. His recap of USF starts here. 

fizz

By Dave (Fizzy) Weinraub

                                       How to Shoot Yourself in Both Feet Without a Gun

Offense

  1. The offense continually stops itself with penalties.
  2. The play calling in the red zone and at the goal line is atrocious.  The first two play calls with first and goal are always up-the-gut.  (Dairy Queen is introducing a new product, the Temple all-vanilla softy.)
  3. Twice when Russo got sacked, linemen inconceivably double-teamed, while the linebacker rushed freely.
  4. Continually on third and long, no roll-outs – no imagination.
  5. The offense scored 10 points.
  6. So far, Anthony Russo has had only one really good game. (It was the one with 7 drops.)  In fact, he’s regressed a little since last season.
  7. Isaiah Wright has also gone downhill since last season.

Conclusion:  The game should have been put away in the first half.  Temple needs a new offensive coordinator.

Screenshot 2019-11-10 at 11.43.12 AM

Photo of crowd DURING the game (not at halftime or in warmups) shot from Buccaneers” super box where Bruce Arians hosted his former Owl players

Defense

  1. If the SF receiver doesn’t drop the wide-open deep pass in the fourth quarter, the games’ a nail biter.  There were also two other SF barely overthrown deep passes to open receivers.
  2. Sometimes it’s tough to avoid a targeting call, especially when the receiver or ball carrier suddenly ducks.  However, our outstanding linebacker (Chapelle Russell) had at least three steps before hitting the SF QB in the head with his helmet in the first quarter.  Inexcusable!
  3. A really dumb roughing the kicker penalty negated a terrific stop of SF when the games was tied.

Conclusion:  If it wasn’t for the outstanding performance by our defensive rushers and all their sacks, as well as the defensive touchdown, we’d have probably lost this game. This is the sloppiest 6 – 3 team I’ve ever seen.  Oh yeah, the win was nice.  We are now eligible to go to the White House Sub Shop Bowl in Atlantic City.

There are three important things in football – coaching, coaching, and coaching.

Tuesday: The Improving Scenarios

Owls Need To Show Signs of Life

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These guys helped change the culture from a 20-game losing streak to a nine-win regular season in just four years. This current Temple team needs to win tonight if they hope to match that season.

A long time ago in a college halfway across the state, a young man named Al Golden earned a Bachelor of Science degree in a new major then called sports psychology.

He found a place to put it to good use when he arrived at Temple as the youngest head coach in the country some 14 years later.

Screenshot 2019-11-06 at 11.38.01 PM

If anything, the ECU game points to USF being the slightly stronger team recently with GT game showing the Owls being the better team earlier in the season; still not much to chose

When Golden set up shop at the E-O, he found a program as fractured mentally as it was physically. The Owls would lose 20-straight games before Golden slowly started to turn things around and right a ship that has sailed pretty much in the right direction since.

Golden understood the psychology of sports as it related to winning and losing. Winning is contagious and so is losing and, for this season, the Owls not only have lost the last two games, they looked disinterested on the sidelines. Temple has to stop the bleeding starting tonight (8 p.m., ESPN) at South Florida. Losing by 63-21 on top of 45-21 can shake your belief system, so the Owls will have to show some life tonight, especially on the sidelines.

Body language is important and Golden was the first Temple coach to make the Owls who weren’t playing at the time an important part of the team by getting everybody swaying back and forth, locking hands and cheering on their teammates. It wasn’t as hokey as some of the money down shenanigans Geoff Collins pulled recently, but a useful exercise in team bonding.

That might not help the guys on the field block and tackle better but it will show everyone that their teammates care that they do. Apparent the last two weeks has not only been the lack of blocking and tackling (and catching) but an appalling sense of resignation on the sidelines. Maybe a players-only meeting addressed that issue. We will find out tonight.

One of the things that Golden did was target captains of winning high school programs. Eighteen of his first 25-man class were captains of championship teams. “It wasn’t as important to me as getting the higher-rated recruit, as it was to change the mindset,” Golden said. “I wanted winners here who refused to lose.”

So Golden not only brought those winners in, but he applied a tourniquet in some of his psychological approaches on gameday and maybe that’s what this team needs.

If Temple football is going to do something more than just make another obscure bowl game, the game at South Florida tonight represents the last stand to recapture the brand that has stood not only for winning over the last decade but for sustained excellence.

Face it: Even if the Owls cannot get past Cincinnati and UCF in the standings, what they can control is to finish the regular season 9-3 and not 6-6 and those are two polar opposite outcomes.

Nine and three would be a good record and get the respect of people nationwide. Six and six is just the middle of the pack mediocre in a business where 130 other programs are struggling to be noticed.

Owls need to show some signs of life tonight, both on the field and in the sidelines, after not showing it anywhere for the last two weeks. Showing that they care would be a good place to start.

Predictions: Another 3-3 week. Only one game jumps out at us on the schedule this week so we’re just taking Boston College to cover the 1.5 at Florida State. For the season, we are 28-22 against the spread and 32-20 straight up.

Friday: Game Analysis

Welcoming Opposing Fans

southfloridafans

Former Owl greats Kevin Jones (left) and Joe Greenwood sent these USF fans home with a smile on their faces.

Over the years, being a fan is the derivitive of the word fanatic.

Sometimes, it’s a good thing, sometimes a bad one.

My love of Temple and my hatred of the “bad guys” (anybody playing Temple) sometimes got the best of me but, over the last decade, I’ve matured and become more welcoming to the fans who wear other colors than Cherry and White.

I have a lot of people to thank for that, specifically some terrific hosts of tailgates–like Steve Conjar and Sheldon Morris–who I’ve been able to learn from and adopt their attitudes.

Huskers

Mostly, watching them becoming good Ambassadors for Temple football, I’ve come to conclusion is a win-win for the program. When one group of fans from another school travels home, they can say what a terrific experience they had in Philadelphia with the Temple fans.

The fans you meet in person are often less aggravating than the ones who make antagonist comments about the Owls on the internet.

Take last Saturday, for instance.

The Sheldon Morris Group–which includes some of the great Bruce Arians’ players like Joe Greenwood, Paul Palmer and Mike Hinnant (to name a few)–welcomed a few South Florida fans into their post-game tailgate.

“It’s how we do,” was the way Joe Greenwood described it.

Despite the loss, those guys had a great time and will take the story back home to Tampa.

Maybe next year, the South Florida fans will recipocate.

notall

Err, just for this guy I’d like to see Temple ring up 80 on UConn, though.

I’ve had a few terrific experiences on the road, including one at UConn in 2012. Myself and the late great Phil Makowski were walking around in the parking lot at Rentschler Field and a couple asked us about Temple and we got into an interesting hour conversation about Eastern football, other universities and towns. They introduced us to two more UConn fans and so on and so forth. The Husky fans could not have been nicer.

The next year, we returned the favor at the Temple tailgates.

I’ve found the nicest fans are the Navy fans, but I’ve never been to a game at Army. Notre Dame fans were terrific both in South Bend and at Lincoln Financial Field. A steady stream of green-cladded Irish walked up my aisle as I sat dejected after a 24-20 loss in 2015 and shook my hand and said things like, “Keep your head up, you have a great team.”

Even though, we all root for different teams, the thing that binds us is our love of college football and our schools.

Empathy is wonderful but it’s learned and not inherited. UConn is going through a tough time now–as we went through once–and it’s important to win and party with class and Temple, largely, has done that thanks to a special group of people.

Hopefully, the goodwill reflects as positively on the university as the play of the kids wearing Cherry and White does.

Sunday: Game Analysis

 

Getting The Job Done

Going into Saturday, the Temple football team had one job to do.

Win. The. Game.

They didn’t have to look pretty doing it, like they did in a 49-6 win over East Carolina a month ago. They didn’t have to even cover the spread.

They just had to win the game.

It wasn’t pretty and it didn’t cover the spread and the offensive coordinator and his enabler did some more head-scratching things in a head-scratching season, but the defense and Isaiah Wright bailed the Owls out again and Temple won 27-17.

Meanwhile, they lost about 10,000 potential season-ticket holders with heart ailments because if this trend continues into next year, the doctors will write a prescription to watch the home games on television instead.

The main head-scratcher was giving Ryquell Armstead no support in the running game. Last week, the Owls gave Armstead a caravan of blockers in the form of tight ends and H-backs in motion. This time, they fell back into old habits by lining him up in an otherwise empty backfield and asked him to try to beat 11 guys all by himself.

Worse, this is the first time since the Rutgers’ game of 2013 that the Owls went to a shotgun on fourth and less than a yard.

Just like that Rutgers’ game, they did not get the yard on a handoff out of the shotgun. You learn in Geometry 101 that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and there was no reason to line up quarterback Anthony Russo in a shotgun. Armstead following 6-1, 330-pound Freddy Booth-Lloyd was the higher percentage call in that down and distance situation followed by a handoff to Freddy Love himself or even a sneak by your 6-foot-5 quarterback. If you go shotgun with inches to go, at least make a pass part of the option. You are only helping out the defense by running out of a shotgun.

The Sainted Wayne Hardin said that many times. There is a reason why he is in the College Football Hall of Fame and Dave Patenaude is not.

The lowest percentage call is what the Owls went with and that was a deep handoff against an overloaded defense.

That seems to be the new normal for Temple offensive football, though. Figure things out one week, then lapse into old habits the next.

Fortunately, the Owls are going to a bowl and probably will win eight regular-season games but you get the nagging suspicion that this season could have gone much better with a more disciplined and focused offensive approach.

That’s a job for another day, though.

Tuesday: Fizzy’s Corner

Thursday: Opposing Fans

Saturday: The Answer Right Underneath Our Noses

USF Kryptonite: It’s Not The Weather

helmetstickers

There might be something to that old adage that warm-weather teams can’t win football games in the North come November or later.

There isn’t enough data on South Florida’s football team to prove that hypothesis because the Bulls have played only two games north of the Mason-Dixon Line in November since 2010, one a win at UConn last year and the other a loss at Rutgers in 2011.

usfdefense

There is more pertinent data that Temple can both take solace and base a game plan around and hopefully, the Owls’ brain trust is putting the finishing touches on that right now.

South Florida deserves a lot of respect coming into Lincoln Financial Field to face host Temple at high noon on Saturday.

The Bulls have a better overall record (7-3) than the Owls (6-4) and have one more Power 5 win than the Owls do (2-0 vs. 1-1) and did what they needed to do against their lone FCS opponent, a better team than Villanova: Blow them out.

That’s where the comparison should end, though, because the Bulls’ Kryptonite has led to their three consecutive losses and it’s a defensive line decimated by injuries and susceptible to the run.

houstonsnip

 

Temple has plenty of Kryptonite in the form of a dynamite young offensive line and a savvy senior running back named Ryquell Armstead, who Houston coach Major Applewhite called “the hardest running back in our league to stop.”

Houston beat USF, 57-36, and Temple scored 59 on Houston.

Any game plan Temple designs for USF has to heavily involve that young offensive line and that savvy running back attacking the Bulls’ weakness.

USF head coach Charlie Strong touched on the lack of size within his front seven on defense. Strong pointed to the lack of size as a reason why opposing offenses have been able to get such a big push on the Bulls defensive line.

amazing

If the game were played today, Temple would have a big weather advantage

“When you get good on the defensive front, those guys are around 295-300 pounds,” Strong said. “Right now, those guys are 270-280. When you’re playing against a fifth-year senior and he’s 300-plus, they’re going to move you out of there. And that is what’s happening a lot of times on the runs. We get overpowered inside because you’re just not big enough.”

USF is going to bring the linebackers and safeties up to the line of scrimmage to cheat and try to help against Armstead. Even then, it might not be enough to stop the Owls but it does leave them vulnerable to the play-action passing game.

A few nice deft fakes by quarterback Anthony Russo into the belly of Armstead and then pulled out should be leaving Temple receivers running so free through the secondary that Russo will not know which guy to pick out.

That sounds like a plan. That sounds like the only plan.

Saturday:  Tribute to the Seniors

Sunday: Game Analysis

Tuesday: The Answer Right Under Our Noses

Thursday: The Most Arrogant Fan Base

Sunday (11/25):  Game Analysis

Tuesday: Playing AD

Thursday: An Argument That Can’t Be Won

#Myth Busting

The telling screen shot last night came not from the horror show that a nation had to witness for three hours prior, but in the interview afterward.

A profusely sweating Geoff Collins was wearing a vest that said, simply: #TEMPLETUFF.

Not TEMPLE TUFF, but hashtag Temple TUFF. Temple has been on national television twice, and there is plenty of talk about juice and swag and money downs and hashtags but the nation has seen nothing of the Temple TUFF brand we have become used to the last two years.

tuff

So we’re going to do some #Mythbusting today.

There are largely two schools of thought on what happened to a once-proud Temple football program floating around on social media.

One is that “the team lost too much from last year’s squad this is a rebuilding season” and another is that they “hired a head coach who is learning on the job with a group of ill-qualified assistants.”

One theory is an absolute myth perpetrated by fans who follow the program only casually and it’s surprising to those of us who have followed the Owls closely that some people find that line of thinking plausible.

An offense that lost its starting quarterback, but returned a running back who gained over 900 yards and scored 14 touchdowns, the top fullback in the country, three of five starting offensive linemen should not be rebuilding. A fourth non-starter, center Matt Hennessey, should and probably will be Temple’s next great center in the mold of Alex Derenthal and Kyle Friend. Ask any Temple fan who followed the team over the last 40 years (I will raise my hand here) who the best set of receivers are in Temple history and that fan will probably say the current group of Ventell Bryant, Adonis Jennings, Keith Kirkwood and Isaiah Wright. Any offense that has those four guys on it is not rebuilding, it should be reloading.

Emphasis on “should be” because the coaching is the X-factor here. Temple won the past two seasons because it catered an offense to suit the talents of its players, and did not try to force fit a square peg (spread offense) into a round hole (play-action offense). A good head coach tailors a scheme to the talent he has, not the talent he wants.

The myth perpetrators also say the defensive line lost a lot, but starters like Karamo Dioubate, Greg Webb, Michael Dogbe and Jacob Martin are still on the team from last year’s championship squad. Sharif Finch, one of the stars of the 2015 team, also returned this year. They didn’t lose as much as they gained. They did the pushing around last year and this year they are being pushed around. What’s the difference? Coaching.

Sure, the team lost three linebackers but that should have been offset by a secondary that was outstanding last year and mostly returned intact. The Owls replaced a fifth-round NFL draft choice, Nate Hairston, with a guy in Mike Jones who was projected by NFL draft guru Mike Mayock as a sixth-round pick last year. In Artrel Foster, Jones, Sean Chandler and Delvon Randall, those guys are not being put in a position to showcase their talents because the defensive scheme doesn’t call for the necessary quarterback pressures that would result in Pick 6’s coming back the other way.

Maybe the Owls were not meant to defend their championship this year, but they certainly were not meant to be embarrassed like this. When Matt Rhule left, the situation screamed for the school to hire a successful FBS head coach instead of rolling the dice on another coordinator. USF’s kids are benefiting from hiring such a coach, a guy who succeeded in an urban setting (Louisville) like both Philadelphia and Tampa. Charlie Strong did his learning on the job elsewhere and had a pretty good handle on it by now. Meanwhile, Temple’s kids flounder until this guy can learn on the job how to be a head coach.

These kids, and these fans, are the Guinea Pigs and there is not a damn thing anybody can do about it.

Monday: Fizzy’s Corner

Wednesday: If Not Now, When?

Friday: From Plain to Plain Ugly

 

Nothing To See Here

bobster

Maybe Geoff Collins has us fooled all along.

The problems we have seen with our beloved Temple Owls for three games he does not see.

Like Baghdad Bob above, there is nothing to see here and the Owls are in fine shape to upset preseason AAC favorite South Florida tonight (ESPN, 7:30) in Tampa.

At least that’s the vibe I’ve been getting after each Collins’ press conference. Last Saturday, on the “Temple Football Playbook” show, Collins looked positively giddy to be 2-1 and the kids are playing great and the two teams he barely beat are “really, really good” football teams. There’s plenty of juice in the building.

Never mind that one “really, really” good football team barely beat Lehigh and the other “really, really” good football team lost to Coastal Carolina, Old Dominion and Hawaii.

Tonight, Temple plays a “really, really, really, really good” football team in USF on the road.

The fact that the public sees Temple as a 20-point underdog does not seem to faze him one bit, nor did the prediction before the season that USF would finish first and the two-time defending AAC champions would finish third. “I love it,” Collins said at the time.

Those same two-time AAC East champions are now ranked seventh in the AAC power rankings based on a couple of subpar performances after an opening-day embarrassment when there was no sign of the “Temple TUFF” we had been used to for the past two years.  Collins blamed it all on misfits, but Temple fans weren’t buying that explanation because essentially the same players who were supposedly caught in misfits were not particularly known for screwing up similarly under a different set of coaches.

Tonight’s game is a referendum on just how Temple should select its head coaches post-Collins Era. Should it go the way that, say, USF did and hire a guy with head coaching experience who has done it before as a HEAD coach in an urban setting (Louisville) or churn that coordinator pile once again and hope to come up with a flavor like Al Golden or Matt Rhule, knowing full well it could be sour-tasting like Steve Addazio?

Temple AD Pat Kraft thinks he made a brilliant selection with Collins. Only time will tell.

One thing about coordinators is that not every great one was meant to be a head coach. It’s a different job being a head coach and you never really know a good one until you see him in action on game day.

Maybe Collins was just playing Possum and we will now see Temple TUFF, a running game, a defense that can stop the run and crossing patterns underneath and an offense that is innovative and not predictable.

One thing is certain: Temple fans will be watching tonight with a lot of anxiety mixed with a only little bit of hope.

It’s up to Collins to Keep Hope Alive by proving that Kraft’s confidence in him was well-placed.

Tomorrow: Game Analysis

The Lost Letter

helmet

Dear Geoff,

Despite having used some of the extra money in my new contract for a canopy bed and a nice new My Pillow that I ordered online, I’m having some bouts with insomnia.

Oh-and-three will do that to any coach who gives a damn and, from being my friend for over 25 years, you know I do.

So to combat the insomnia and before I get back to that My Pillow, I thought I’d jot just a few notes down because I’ve been able to DVD all three Temple games. Here are a few suggestions. You can take this letter and crumple it up in the circular file if you don’t like them and it won’t affect our friendship. Getting this off my chest might help me catch a few zzzz’s. Even though they are your players, I consider them my kids, too, and I’d like to see them succeed.

 

Keep Nick Sharga In the Game

Watching the Notre Dame game, I thought the first series was promising. Nick Sharga was in the game, the offense was moving and you made the right call on 3d and 2 with the handoff up the middle to him for the first down. Then I went, “Oh no” when Nick was pulled for three wide receivers on the next play. Things went rapidly downhill after that. I , too, was talked into the trendy multiple wide receiver sets by my first offensive coordinator. You are only going to have Sharga this year. You can let Patenaude try all his fancy stuff next year.   It took me two years to figure that out and I’m giving you the benefit of hindsight. Having Nick is like having an extra OL blocker. This is not a bad offensive line. Three of the guys who were starters return and a fourth, Matt Hennessey, who did not start, is a Rimington Award candidate. It should be performing better and using Sharga as a full-time blocker will help.  Once that happens, the linebackers and the safeties inch up toward the line of scrimmage, fake it into the RB’s belly and you’ll have these great receivers running so open through the secondary Logan won’t know which one to pick out. Hell, you might consider playing Sharga on defense, too. He was my best linebacker in a 34-12 win over Memphis two years ago. Position flexibility is something you should know a little about.

Stop the underneath crossing patterns

When Villanova gained about 8,000 yards on a crossing patterns underneath and throws to the tight end, I knew that wouldn’t happen the next week because I had faith in you. Still do. Then UMass gained what seemed like 8,001 yards off the same patterns. My only guess is that you allow Taver to make the defensive calls and he’s a little stubborn. Maybe you should take over as DC until things are cleaned up. I asked Phil what he would have done and he said put Sharga and Folks at linebacker, put Freddy Booth-Lloyd over the nose and Julian and Dogbe at tackles. Don’t forget Karamo Dioubate is also on the team. Please dust off his recruiting film. Nick Saban loved it. He’s a one-man Mayhem Machine. Anyway, Snow said that the best pass defense is putting the quarterback on his ass—err, backside, my faith won’t allow me to say that word this year—and having those three in the A gaps and over the center should cause the requisite Mayhem you desire. You’ll be surprised how that much traffic around the quarterback frees up guys like Quincy Roche and Sharrif Finch. Even if the quarterback isn’t sacked, hitting him might result in a hurried throw that Champ or Delvon can take to the house.

sharga

Make Isaiah Wright The Tailback

Love Ryquell, but he looks a little slow this year. Is he hurt? If he is, don’t hesitate to use Isaiah Wright at tailback. We practiced Wright as both a tailback and a quarterback and I thought he had a chance to be our most dynamic offensive player last year. We had Jahad so we couldn’t use him at tailback a lot, but we still found a way to put IW in as a Wildcat Quarterback. Putting him at tailback even for 10 carries makes the team that much harder to defend and he can do a lot of damage with that swing pass out of the backfield. I think he needs more touches and don’t forget reverses AND he can throw the halfback pass as well. Ryquell is a one-cut runner. This guy is a five-cut runner who, to use a basketball term, can create his own shot.

Good luck against South Florida and I will be watching.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. I have to get back to My Pillow now.

Regards,

Matt

p.s. Please ditch the black uniforms. They are VERY unlucky. Stick with the Cherry helmets with the white ‘][‘.