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Summer Scheming: Temple Owls Football

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Temple finished 2019 8-5, but the Owls have lost key production on defense.

Temple v Cincinnati Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Temple Owls head football coach Rod Carey completed his first season in Philly with an 8-5 record and bowl loss to the UNC Tar Heels. Carey came to Temple from Northern Illinois after posting a 52-30 record in six full seasons at the helm there.

Coming into the 2020 season, Bill Connelly’s SP+ has Miami ranked 23rd overall, 63rd on offense and 9th on defense. The Owls are ranked 72nd overall including 90th on offense and 54th on defense. The Owls, however, have 10 All-AAC pre-season team players (although Athlon does go four teams deep) on their roster.

Personnel

1st team All-AAC offensive lineman Vincent Picozzi returns to anchor a line that paved the way for a 900 yard rusher and 2800 yard passer. Those aren’t eye popping numbers when you look at SMU, UCF or 2018 Houston, but they’re a start. QB Anthony Russo threw for 2,861 yards and 21 TD’s with 12 interceptions in 2019. He averaged only 6.8 yards per attempt. Running back Re’Man Davis ran for over 900 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman. Wide receiver Jadan Blue is a 3rd team pre-season All-AAC selection and hauled in 95 balls for 1,067 yards and four TD’s a year ago.

The Owls lean on defense. Keep in mind that before Carey took over, Temple was ran by defensive-minded head coach Geoff Collins. Collins is currently the head guy at Georgia Tech, and before that Temple was ran by Matt Rhule (HC of the Carolina Panthers). Rhule played linebacker at Penn State but has coached on both sides of the ball.

The defense would have been led by rush end Quincy Roche, but he went to some school down south. Instead, it will still be led by a defensive lineman but Ifeanyi Maijeh instead. Maijeh, a 285 pound defensive tackle, had 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks a year ago. He’s joined by all-conference 2nd teamer Daniel Archibong. Archibong (great name) is also on the D-Line, and logged 26 tackles in ‘19. 3rd team cornerback Christian Braswell had a team-high nine passes defensed and an interception last season.


Scheme on O

Temple might not be the fastest team on offense, but they’re going to try to spread Miami out and make them cover in space both vertically and horizontally. Miami’s benefit is having Roche with Gregory Rousseau. The Owls run a ton of trips (3x1) open pictures (the formation above) even if they incorporate a larger bodied tight end into them.

In the diagram above and the GIF below is a slot fade. This is the 2nd slot fade for a big play I’ve seen from Temple against Maryland. The slot fade is one of my favorite concepts in football. The outside WR can be tagged on any of a couple of concepts such as: a slant, a hitch or a now. It works like a “Smash” concept where the #2 (interior) receiver is going to work inside-out while the #1 WR (exterior) is going to break off low and inside.

The WR’s job is to work outside the #’s but not too quickly as to get the safety to notice and be able to help. It has to be a slower progressive lean outside. This puts the CB in a bind 1-on-1 and the safety too far away to come over the top.

Below- Down inside the red zone Temple changes their tune from a spread out approach to a more condensed box. I’m not really sure why people do this but they crammed the field up and made it easier to defense for Maryland.

The Owls are in 12 personnel with two tight ends to the right and a twins look of WR’s to the left. They send the slot in motion with the back on the same side as the two TE’s. This is a throwback play to a crossing TE on a delayed route. If you don’t think the Temple staff is drooling after seeing Miami defend TE’s against Virginia Tech you’re not very football savvy.


Scheme on D

Temple runs a 4-2-5 defense that was predicated on the pass rush ability of Quincy Roche. With Roche in Coral Gables, the Owls will need to find a new edge rusher to get double-digit sack numbers with. Having the defensive end in a 2-point stance gives him not only a faster rush to the QB, but also an easier path to the flat if he drops into coverage.

The cornerbacks are pressed while the overhang is around 7 yards off the man and the safeties are at 10 and 8 yards which makes this a 2-high look (7 yards is the hard deck) for the Owls. The Temple scheme is to play fast, aggressive football. They will blitz to get five-man pressure on 3rd and long.

The Owls lost their interior linebackers in Shaun Bradley and Chapelle Russell as well as Roche and Dan Levine. That’s almost 200 tackles and 50 tackles for loss in four players. Can the Owls still bring the same pressure and tenacity on defense without that talent? I’m sure they’ll try to maintain an aggressive defensive culture in Philly.


Canyonero keys to victory

My keys to Miami’s victory are to protect the quarterback against an aggressive, play making defense. Even without Levine and Roche, the Owls are going to bring pressure against a historically bad O-Line hoping that with a short camp the crew hasn’t had time to gel or be coached up as much as in a ‘normal’ season.

Another key will be to not get lost in coverage. I don’t think Temple’s QB can carve up Miami, but the slot fades and TE crossing concepts should give anyone pause for concern. Miami has to be able to get pressure on an AAC offense by using only a four man rush. With Roche, Rousseau, and Nesta Silvera- the ‘Canes shouldn’t need to put DJ Ivey, Al Blades Jr, and Gurvan Hall on an island... nor should they have to rely on inexperienced linebacker support for pass rush help.

Prediction: Miami by 10.