What did Matt Rhule do at Temple offensively?

What did Matt Rhule do offensively at Temple and what could fit for the talent at Baylor?

This is a pro-style offense with a focus a power run game with misdirection and play-action built in. As most pro-style offenses are doing, there are spread wrinkles included at times, including 3, 4 and 5 wide receiver sets.  But at its heart, this is a power rushing attack with a fullback and two tight ends at times.  

They will line up in multiple sets, primarily the I-formation with a tailback and a fullback.  They show different looks in terms of 0, 1, or 2 tight ends in this look as well.  The tight end position is critical in this offensive system to give the appearance of run/pass options.  With two tight ends that don't catch the ball, the defense can key in on run action.  

Motion is also critical in an offense like this, especially misdirection. Many times on film, you will see a wide receiver come into motion at the snap to give the appearance of run action.  Temple's first touchdown against Navy was something like this, where the slot receiver was actually their backup running back, who came into motion on a Jet sweep action.  The tight end sealed the edge and the wide receiver made a great downfield block to spring the rusher for a nice touchdown gain. 


This misdirection is all setup with the power rushing attack that drives this offense.  Lining up in either a I-formation with a fullback, a single back, or even shotgun next to the quarterback, the Owls ran power football. This is similar to what Baylor had done under Art Briles' power rushes between the tackles.  The one area where Temple adjusts is the wrinkles off of that power run game are simply different runs (more counters, sweeps, etc.) to take advantage of over-pursuit by the defense. 

Jet Sweeps to wide receivers, multiple runners in the backfield, the presence of a fullback, and true motion pre-snap and at the snap to get the defense moving are all staples of the rushing attack.  The Bears have the offensive line personnel to run this type of blocking scheme, as the core is very similar to what they do now.

The passing game is where you see a stark difference in goals and tendencies. Simply put, no one does what the Briles system does with splits and formations.  The Owls are much more traditional, using bunch sets and keeping players closer to the line of scrimmage.  It is a quick hitting passing attack, with multiple wide receiver screens, and crossing routes.

They use tight ends in the full offensive scheme, not as a gadget options like Baylor fans have become accustomed to.  While Temple will got with 3, 4, or 5 wide receiver sets, the route combinations are very different.  They are much more professional style route trees, rather than the simplistic combos that Baylor has found success with the past few years.  

Play-action is the king for the down the field action that Temple uses, and they do it even in jumbo sets.  Their second touchdown against Navy had an off-set I-formation with two tight ends lined up on the short side of the field, with their best wide receiver on the far side in single coverage.  The run fake drew the safeties to the line of scrimmage and gave the quarterback and easy throw for the touchdown.


How Rhule and his offensive staff adjust for the wide receiver unit they have in Waco, TX will be something to watch. Is he willing to bend on his methodical pace, and go back to a spread style attack he tried in his first two years at Temple, even though his best results came with a different type of offense?  Is he willing to use more of the spread principles he showed at Temple and use more tempo (something he did in 2013 and 2014)?  

You can see glimpses of it, especially in the Owls' third touchdown to put them up 21-0 against Navy.  A 3 wide-receiver set in a shotgun, with a running back and a tight end.  7-man protection scheme, with two receivers stacked to the far side of the field (though lined up on the hash mark with traditional splits).  The front receiver ran a seam route, with the rear receiver running a 15-yard out.  Pure speed down the field for an easy 50+ yard touchdown. 


Could Rhule and company incorporate more spread concepts, while still sticking to their roots?  Yes.  Is that the best way to utilize the talent on campus and the talent in the state of Texas.  Probably.  Using these concepts in more of a pro-style is something that Alabama is doing with Lane Kiffin, and something that is more than likely the next evolution of the offense.  Using the tight end in a more traditional way, rather than just an H-back or blocking back. Using the running back in the passing game for screens or as a pure route runner.  Those types of tweaks can keep the Bears offense as effective as they have been in the past. 

It will be up to him to make those choices, but do not expect him to fully buy into what Baylor fans have been used to seeing the past few years. But no matter how far he strays, it will still come down to power football in the trenches. 


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