Wednesday, August 31, 2011

TFF: More than a Labor of Love now

By Mike Gibson
After working full-time continuously since I was 17 (I worked my way through Temple by holding two part-time jobs), I recently became a victim of the terrible economy and the spiraling newspaper business.
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently cut back two full-timers from its high school sports section and I, unfortunately, was one of them.
Pretty tough news considering I never missed a day of work in my life from the time I started in the newspaper business at The Doylestown Intelligencer and always showed up for work on time, pretty much to the minute.
Temple Football Forever has been a labor of love through all of this.
Now, at least temporarily, it is more than a labor of love.
Hopefully, through the support of the great fans of this site, I won't be reduced to sending TFF dispatches by flashlight while living in a cardboard box at 16th and Callowhill

Hopefully, through the support of the great fans of this site, I won't be reduced to sending TFF dispatches by flashlight while living in a cardboard box at 16th and Callowhill. (If I had to set up a cardboard box home, that's where I'd do it.)
I have a few months to look for another newspaper job, but I have to face reality here.
This business is dying and there is a lot of age discrimination out there in all areas of employment, so the prospects are not ideal.
So, we're not asking for a Bill Cosby-like donation of $1 million here (Bill has never contributed a penny but that's his prerogative as Bobby Brown might say), just anything between $5 and $10 would be greatly appreciated.
Either go through the pay pal link provided or  if you don't like pay pal send a check to:
Mike Gibson
P.O. Box 243
Quakertown, PA 18951
Thanks again and only a few of my fellow tailgaters know of this and I appreciate their kind words of support.

The Eve of (Villanova's) Destruction

Once again, we'll let the Lovely Laura be your guide on what to expect tomorrow.

Long before midnight tomorrow night, we'll find out if Steve Addazio can coach.
Despite what many of my Florida Gator friends tell me, I suspect he can. The sign of a great CEO is his knack for surrounding himself with top upper-level management.
Already, for whatever flaws Addazio might have had as an OC, he appears to have this CEO thing down.
What makes me confident is that the guy has surrounded himself with coordinators who might be the two best in college football, regardless of the level.
Chuck Heater was the defensive coordinator at Utah when it went 11-0.
Yeah, Freakin' Utah.
He was the co-defensive coordinator at Florida (with Teryl Austin) over  the past couple of years at Florida.
Don't let the "co" title confuse you.
"I call Chuck Heater Mother Theresa," Florida head coach Urban Meyer said last season. "He's worked miracles with our defense."
That kind of endorsement is good enough for me.
Loeffler was the quarterbacks' coach at Michigan for Tom Brady and at Florida for Tim Tebow.
That's all I needed to hear.
I think he can, and probably will, put this offense in a better position to succeed than Matt Rhule has done.
Addazio, by even his detractors' accounts, is a motivator second to none and an accomplished offensive line coach.
I like what this equation can do for Temple's football team this year.
Addazio's motivation + Loeffler's playcalling/QB developmental skills + Heater's fire-eaters = big-time success for the Owls.
Offensively, I look for Bernard Pierce, "datboy Nard", to run wild over this team. Remember, in the first year, as a true freshman, Pierce gained 66 yards on six carries against the Wildcats despite being cleared by the NCAA to play only a couple days before kickoff. Last year, in the joke move of all joke moves, Al Golden helped Villanova out by alternating Pierce with Matty Brown on every other series.

Adrian Robinson: Three sacks.
Defensively, I look for Adrian Robinson to get three sacks and for guys like Kadeem Custis and Morkeith Brown to be spending more time in Villanova's backfield than the Wildcat quarterbacks and running backs.
We won't have to wait until the second or third game to find out if Temple has the right people in charge.
We'll know by 11 p.m. tomorrow night.
My gut tells me a 55-3 Temple win. My head tells me more like 35-14. The score will probably end up somewhere in between.
Anything less than 35-14 and we're not in as good a shape as I thought.
Don't worry.
The Eve of (Villanova's) Destruction is at hand.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The MAC Blogger Roundtable: Week 1

Our friends over at Bull Run (actually, friend, Tim Riordan is a one-man show over there) asked us to answer Week 1 questions and we are only too happy to oblige.
Here they are:
And here are the week one questions..

1) Lets start with the new blood. There are several new coaches in the conference, which coach was the best get and why?

TFF: I don't think that's possible to tell now but, hypothetically, the best coach should surround himself with the best staff. If that's the most important thing, it's hard to argue against Steve Addazio and Temple. Chuck Heater was the defensive coordinator for Utah went it went 11-0. He was the co-defensive coordinator for Florida last year. Urban Meyer called him "Mother Theresa because he's been a miracle-worker for us." Scot (one T) Loeffler is the new offensive coordinator. He was quarterbacks coach at Michigan for Tom Brady. He was QB coach at Florida for Tim Tebow. If Daz lets these coaches coach and he takes over the motivation, these SEC coaches are the best in the MAC.

2) Lets look at the old blood? Which coach is the most likely to be dumped after the season and which is most likely to be plucked away by a big AQ school?

TFF: I think Ron English is most likely to be dumped. I think Frank Solich gets another chance at an AQ school.

3) Which somewhat realistically winnable non conference game would give the MAC the most publicity? What are the odds of the MAC team winning that game

TFF: Penn State vs. Temple. 50/50. Last year's game was a 22-13 PSU win before 106,000 in State College. This year's game will be before 70K in Philly (30K Temple fans, 40K PSU fans). Temple is much better this year. I'm sure Chester Stewart won't get a chance to throw three picks like he did last year.

4) What do you think of the UMass addition and how would you realign the divisions?

TFF: I wish they would have gotten Marshall back instead. It's one thing for Temple fans to drive 4 miles south of the Main campus to a 70K stadium. It's another thing for UMass fans to drive 105 miles from their main campus for games in Gilette Stadium.

5) Who wins the East and what is their key game along that journey

TFF: Temple. Ohio at Temple. Solich and his read option confounded Golden and Mark D'Onofrio. Heater won't even be fazed by it.

6) Who wins the West and what is their key game along that journey

Northern Illinois.

7) Rank the teams first to last

1) Northern Illinois

2) Temple

3) Ohio

4) Central Michigan

5) Toledo

6) Western Michigan

7) Bowling Green

8: Akron

9) Ball State

10) Buffalo

11) Miami

12) Kent

13) Eastern Michigan

TFF's Week 1 MAC picks:
Temple 35, Villanova 14 _ Every fiber in my being says this is going to be a more epic beatdown, somewhere between 35-14 and 55-3. I'll avoid the temptation to split the baby down the middle and go for 46-19. I'll stick with 35-14 and leave it at that. Temple is a 6 1/2-point favorite. Easier money you'll never see.
Idaho 28, Bowling Green 24 _ BGSU covers the 8-point spread in defeat.
Ohio State 41, Akron 7 _ OSU barely covers the hefty 33-point spread.
Missouri 35, Miami (Ohio) 14 _ Twenty-one is good enough to lay for the Tigers, who are giving 17.
Alabama 45, Kent State 3 _ Trent Richardson runs roughshod over KSU and helps Bama cover the 37.
Michigan 31, Western Michigan 14 _ Western Michigan comes close, but not close enough to cover the modest 14-point spread. All that extra practice time helps the Wolverines.
PITT 42, Buffalo 0 _ Panthers beat Bulls by the same score Temple did a year ago and easily cover the 30.
Northern Illinois 42, Army 28 _ Huskies beat Army by the same score Temple did a year ago.
Indiana 14, Ball State 10 _ In an upset, Ball State covers the 6 1/2 against its in-state rival.
Ohio 34, New Mexico State 7 _ Frank Solich's crew has no problem on the road covering the 7 1/2.

Join the picking fun by joining Bull Run's pick 'em this year:

Remember, the group ID: 13180
user name: 2008champs

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fans have to be Temple TUFF, too

Temple TUFF: Behind The Scenes With Temple Football - EP. 1 from 20/20 Visual Media on Vimeo.

It was about this time a year ago when I was trying to drum up Temple alumni support for attending the second annual Mayor's Cup that an old Temple football player reached out to me.

No excuses, Temple fans. Thursday will be a great night
for both football and the Owls. Be there.

The guy, a good guy and someone who I remembered as a player, said:
"Mike, I love your blog and I'm going to try to get to a game this year."
I wrote him back something to the effect that: "See you in the parking lot at the Villanova game, then."
"I won't be able to make that one, but maybe one later in the season," he replied.
I've never understood that line of thinking.
Temple fans, if you are going to make a game, make this one.
It's important for a number of reasons:
One, you can't lose to Villanova. A lot of the euphoria over the nine-game winning streak and the bowl game against UCLA was wiped out for me by a loss to Villanova in the opening game that year. Every Temple detractor (and we all know there are many) added a "yeah, but" ... as in Temple's good, but yeah but it is in the MAC or "how good could Temple be" because it did not beat Villanova?
Updated Temple vs. Villanova depth chart is here: thanks to
Getting your Temple TUFF fan butt in the seats and yelling your lungs out for this team will insure there are no "yeah buts" at the end of the season.
Two, this is a message game. It's a message to the college football world that Temple, not Villanova, rules the city's college football's rooting interest. It's a message to the Big East that they are missing out on something, a school with 270K alumni and 37K full-time students in the heart of the nation's fourth (not fifth) largest market. Temple football has a documented history, hard ratings numbers, of doing well on TV. What it doesn't have is a documented history of adding fannies in the seats to those numbers. A crowd of 40,000, mostly Cherry-clad fans, would send that message to the Big East and the rest of the college football world. Wear Cherry, not white.
Three, this is new Temple coach Steve Addazio's first game.  Daz says everywhere he goes Temple alumni keep asking him about the third game. He said he's not even thinking about the third game, that all he's thinking about is beating Villanova.
That's not coachspeak. This game is that important.
Temple must not only beat this team, but beat it bad, both on the field and in the stands.
That's what creates a sustainable momentum.
That's the only way to make the rest of the games after that meaningful.
Making time to be there for three hours on a Thursday night is not too much to ask any Temple alumni or student.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The one red shirt I hate

What Temple fans MIGHT expect from Chris Coyer on Thursday.

One of the momentous decsions in the early Steve Addazio Era is in the process of being made right now.
And it all comes down to a red shirt.
More precisely, an orange shirt.
That's what the Temple quarterbacks have been wearing since spring ball.
The shirt means these guys can't be rushed, can't be sacked, can't be hit, in practice.
While I understand the reasoning, what I don't understand is how this will make Addazio's first all-important decision easier.
Remember, I'm talking from the perspective of having seen guys like Vaughn Chartlon and Mike McGann throw 11 straight completions in seven-on-seven drills.
Both looked like Peyton Manning that day.
When the orange shirt came off, in "real" games, both looked like Rex Grossman.
Not good.
Let's hope that Addazio takes the game film into account before he makes this most important of decisions in the coming days.
I don't care who starts, I just want the guy to be a gamer and a leader and a guy who makes plays with defenders hanging all over him.
I did not see that in Chester Stewart in any of the last three years.
I did see that in Mike Gerardi last year, at most times.
If Chris Coyer beats Mike Gerardi out, then that means Temple is that much better set for Thursday night's game. It means that Coyer can make plays with his feet as well as his arm. I did not see Gerardi making plays with his feet last year.
I don't think it is possible for Juice Granger to be ready.
Not quite yet.
Call it a gut feeling based on reports from insiders at camp, but I think Daz goes to the darkhorse guy in redshirt sophomore Coyer, an Ohio State recruit.
Your call, Daz.
May you make it wisely.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Camp news: Nate Smith (L.J.'s bro) to fullback

Gotta love the personnel moves Steve Addazio has made so far in training camp and my personal favorite is moving the explosive Nate Smith (brother of former Eagles' tight end L.J.) to fullback.
Daz announced that along with a few other interesting tidbits in the video above.
You remember the fullback position.
It's been pretty much a non-factor at Temple since Shelley Poole blocked for Paul Palmer some 25 years ago.
Before that, a hard-charging guy named Mark Bright earned the MVP in the Garden State Bowl.
Smith was an explosive running back in high school and, in the backfield with Bernard Pierce, gives the defense something to think about before loading up to stop BP.
In other news on the video, Daz talks about moving George Washington High athlete Daquan Cooper to corner and says he's going to work Cooper in on special teams, which I interpret to mean returning punts and kickoffs.
He doesn't have a timetable for naming a starting quarterback but says "that's not where we're headed" when asked a question about playing more than one quarterback. At the same time, Daz indicates that he is working on a limited package with Juice Granger and Granger could have a role in the Villanova game.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Practice? We're talking about practice

Steve Addazio talkin' about practice. Note the young man with the heavily marked up depth chart holding the tape recorder to the left. Kudos to him for coming to the interview prepared.

There's nothing like holding a newspaper in your hands and flipping through the sports section.
I thought about that on Sunday when I was able to grab a copy of the Pocono Record, which is one of my local papers in the summertime.
Reading through Page 3 of the sports section, the top two stories above the fold were about various football practices.
In one of them, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly talked of the quarterback duel between Dayne Crist and Tommy  Rees and said the position was "too close to call at this point."
The story to the right of that talked about Steelers' coach Mike Tomlin "being unhappy with the Steelers' lifeless play."
That got me to thinking about Steve Addazio saying pretty much the same thing over the past week as the Temple camp unfolded.
The quarterback position is too close to call and he was relatively unhappy with the first couple of practices.
I feel a little better now.
If Addazio lets the QB position play out, that will give him a better read before pulling the trigger on the starter. If he's unhappy with the practice tempo now, the Owls will rachet that up for him before long.
It's all part of the process at this point and nothing specific to Temple.
So talking about practice makes me a little uneasy.
It's a necessary, not evil, but means to my end and that's the fun of the games themselves.

Adam DiMichele and...
I want a demanding perfectionist as my head coach and Addazio's comments were the first hints to me that we have one.
I don't remember Al Golden saying  the same thing at this time last season.
Also, I've been through what seems to be a hundred years of Temple players performing well in practices but not so well in the games.
I watched as a quarterback named Mike McGann lit it up in practice after practice one year, only to lead the nation in interceptions (with 22) a few months later.
I watched as Vaughn Charlton, wearing an orange jersey (for no contact) complete 11 for 11 in a seven-on-seven drill in practice and reminded me a lot of Peyton Manning that day.

... Hunter Pence ... separated at birth.
When he got into games and the rush came near him, he reminded me of Mike McGann.
I saw a guy named Adam DiMichele (who looks a LOT like the Phillies Hunter Pence) SOMETIMES struggle in practice but shine when the bright lights went on during the games. He welcomed the rush. That's when he made big play after big play, by ducking out of it and completing third-down passes and running for 9 yards on seemingly every third-and-8.
I watched practice the last couple of years when Chester Stewart seemed to separate himself from the rest of the pack, only to hold the ball like a loaf of bread during games when he looked like Randall Cunningham but ran like Sonny Jurgesen. I then watched the Penn State game when he threw three interceptions right into the hands of Penn State players who were not even near the intended Temple receivers. I watched Chester drop back to see a Rod Streater (who beat a Northern Illinois defender by 15 yards) only to overthrow him by 25 yards. By then, I had it up to here with Chester. It took a pick 6 for a TD by a Bowling Green defender for Al Golden to feel the same way.
So, if Chester wins the job outright during practice the next couple of weeks it might cheer Addazio but it will be Groundhog Day for me.
A lot of the Steve Addazio supporters will say he knows better than I and I will agree with that but it won't make me more comfortable with him out there.
I know people like Mike Gerardi, Rod Streater, Joey Jones, Bernard Pierce, Evan Rodriguez, Alex Jackson and Matty Brown can move the sticks pretty regularly against anyone. That mix works for me. If you can work in Chester, Juice Granger and Chris Coyer after that (not necessarily in that order), more power to them.
And us.
That's the mix I'm hoping to see on 9/1.
But Addazio only has practice to go on before he makes that decision.
Hopefully, his gut will steer him in the right direction.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jarrett's pick for the Eagles and more on Owls

Jarrett with the big pick last night ....and as an Owl (below)
I know a lot of Temple fans who hate the Eagles.
I'm not one of them.
I look forward to every Eagles' game since they don't conflict with those of my favorite football team, the Temple Owls. Plus, I've been running the too often concurrent sentence of being a fan of both all of my life.
I must admit, though, I looked at last night's Eagles' game a little different than most.
I was looking for No. 26, Jaiquawn Jarrett.
When the ball went up in the air in the first quarter and landed in his hands, I couldn't be more happier.
It was one step closer to legitimizing Temple football and some ill-informed comments about it.
Jim Gardner, the Action News' anchor, tweeted on the night of the draft: "The Eagles might have made a reach in the second round by picking the Temple guy" I tweeted him back: "No reach. Mel Kiper and others thought he was the best SS in the draft."
I hope Gardner knows that SS stands for strong safety, but I doubt it.
With each interception, JJ quiets that kind of ignorance so I was happy for him, Temple, the Eagles and the city.
As far as the Owls go, a couple of developments in practice have me intrigued.
  • The loss of kickoff returner extraordinare James Nixon. I don't know why he and the program departed ways and, quite frankly at this point, I don't care. All I know is that it is a huge loss because you can't teach 4.3 speed or the vision and moves he had on the field to go with it. He was a threat to take it the house on every kickoff. I don't see Matty Brown, Joey Jones or anybody else being the same kind of threat. Vaughn Carraway, yes. Carraway was one of the greatest punt returners I've ever seen in high school and I've covered high school sports for 30 years. Like Nixon, he's has the "it" factor for returning kicks. I hope Daz gives him a shot.

  • Daz seems to be moving from the feeling that "it's just asking him to kick" to he needs to find someone to relieve the punting duties from NFL kicker Brandon McManus (yes, he's an NFL kicker getting a four-year education). If he sends McManus out there to punt and he breaks his leg on a roughing-the-punter penalty, I will scream bloody murder. If he's going to break his leg, I'd rather it be AFTER the 54-yard, game-winning, field goal against Penn State.

  • The movement of running back Ahkeem Smith to linebacker. Temple has a returning starter, Stephen Johnson, back there but Smith brings a significant skill set to the backup position. I hope he does well there.

  • Carraway. Defensive coordinator Chuck Heater said he had a "terrible spring" at safety and "even he would admit it."  Then he added, "he's doing much better now. That's all I can say." Hmm. Doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement to me. How about trading Carraway back to the offense for Smith, then, putting the former four-star WR recruit back into the mix there and as an explosive replacement for the dynamic Nixon?

Even though Chester Stewart currently is running with the first team, head coach Steve Addazio still calls that position a work in progress and I hope he gives all four quarterbacks an equal shot in the next two weeks.
No need to name a starter now.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Some depth chart thoughts

Morkeith Brown's leadership skills are on display from this video taken last year at this time. Go to the 4:01 mark on the time display.

My movie viewing habits can be best described as spotty.
I haven't seen a movie in an actual theater in about 22 years.
I usually write down a list of movies in the back of my black book (the one I used to use for dates when I was young and handsome ... well, young) and eventually get around to them in the summertime when they come on my Blue Ridge Cable under the $2.95 movies.
One of them was Invincible and I finally got around to it tonight.
It was a real tear-jerker, probably moreso because they used Temple play-by-play man Harry Donahue instead of the Hall of Famer Merrill Reese (a real Temple grad, who probably would have done the part). After nearly 20 long years of listing to Harry the D do Temple games, I kept thinking he would blurt out: "Papale makes the tackle. There's a fumble. Eagles recover! No check that, the Giants recovered."  Or: "Morton throws the ball and it's INTERCEPTED! No, dropped."
Then I realized that the movie was scripted and therefore Harry couldn't make the kind of mistakes we're all too familiar with and ones that Merrill just doesn't make.
There was a scene in the movie where Dick Vermeil is down to cutting "either Papale or Sampson" and passes it around the table to his assistant coaches.
They all say keep Sampson and Vermeil takes that under advisement and keeps Papale.
I thought a lot about that while pouring over the Temple football depth chart tonight.

Morkeith Brown attracts a crowd at the bowl party.
  Having seen a lot of these guys in "real games" and not on the practice field, I don't get a couple of things on that depth chart so Steve Addazio doesn't have to take my thoughts under advisement but I'll offer them anyway.
To me, he nailed the offensive line. Left tackle Pat Boyle (6-5, 320), left guard Derek Dennis (6-5, 328), center John Palumbo (6-3, 206), right guard Wayne Tribue (6-4, 324) and right tackle Martin Wallace (6-6, 340) have talent and more importantly nastiness to match their sizes.
What has me scratching my head is the "XWR" position that has Deon Miller starting and C.J. Hammond backing up.
To me, if you want explosive plays downfield, like Addazio promised, simply move James Nixon or Joey Jones over to that side to complement Rod Streater, the "ZWR" starter on the other side.
I didn't see a whole lot of explosiveness in Miller or Hammond last year.
Nixon, Jones and Streater have enough explosiveness to blow up the Lincoln Financial Field scoreboard. Add a healthy RB like Bernard Pierce into the mix and they have enough C4 to bring down the place.
At quarterback, Chester Stewart "or" Mike Gerardi are listed as the co-starters, but that whole position is a work in progress.
I'm not concerned.
If there wasn't talent in those first five guys, I'd be concerned.
I'll take the five Temple QBs over the Villanova starter any day of the week.
Practice starts Friday.
My guess is that some positions will be tweaked by Sept. 1.
We'll get to the defense soon enough, but suffice it to say that I'm happy to see Morkeith Brown as the starter at LE.
To me, he's a born leader and, as such, he needs to be out there motivating the troops.