Chris Swezey Temple-Navy Thoughts

It's tough to follow a legend. Ask me how I know. The person with whom I share this space, David Ausiello, a.k.a. "Oz," a.k.a. maybe my ride to Philly, has become a cult figure. He uses well the inside knowledge he gained of the Academy from his days with the drum (snicker) and bugle (guffaw) corps.

Anyway, following legends does not appear to be a problem at Temple. The back of their media guide has pictures of some of their all-time greatest players, for lack of a better term.

Klecko, Grossman, Watson and Palmer I've heard of. (Hint: The latter two are not famous golfers.)

About the others…someone named Joachim is wearing two wristbands and has 1970s hair, so maybe he was in the Village People. A guy named Ross appears to have once tackled Herschel Walker (though Georgia held on for a 49-3 win). Etc.

This shows how hard a job Al Golden and his staff have in building Temple's program. There's not a ton of history. As we said before, it's a college football team in a pro sports market, and that can be a tough sell.

Yet whatever Golden and his staff are doing, it appears to be working.

When they used 22 freshmen last year, they must've done so believing it was a move with an eye toward the future.

Or not, considering their two-deep depth chart released late last week features 14 freshmen.

Temple's best addition in the offseason may have been assistant coach Tyree Foreman. He recruited many of Army's current players and has an excellent reputation among high school coaches in the Washington/Northern Virginia area.

Thus I don't see Temple being in a downturn for much longer. Whether they will get a jump-start with a win over Navy on Friday night depends on these things:

How many Owls will fit into a box? 
Air Force benefited greatly from having Ryan Fleming at wide receiver in 2000. Fleming was 6-feet-5 and thus had a height advantage over just about every defensive back. This became important because Fleming often received single coverage; opponents were committing 8 and 9 players to stop the run—i.e. putting them in the box, the imaginary five-yard area on the defensive side of the ball that spans from between the offensive tackles.

I think Navy may have something similar with Barnes and Sudderth. If Navy's running game is as good as advertised, opponents will use 8 men to stop it. That leaves two DBs and a safety against Barnes and Sudderth. It's a quick read off the safety; whichever receiver has single coverage should expect a pass his way.

Putting the ‘O' in Old

Temple has a relatively young staff. That's why it was such a surprise that the eldest assistant called such a poor game last year. Offensive coordinator George DeLeone (UConn ‘70) had some really curious calls against Navy—the halfback option on fourth-and-goal, some weird underneath passes on third-and-long situations.

One thing that worries me is that DeLeone will not call a poor game again. Against Navy's young defense, his playcalling will be crucial. I am surprised that Shelton (#22), their really good receiver, is so low on the depth chart. He worries me and I would be stunned if he does not play a significant role on Friday regardless of where he currently resides on the depth (unless he is there for academic or discipline problems).

First Two Drives Rule

Paul Johnson has often said he learns after a couple of drives what the defense is doing and how best to attack it. I will be interested to see what Temple does against the option. If it uses 8 men in the box right away, will PJ try to run or will he throw to Barnes and Sudderth?

A freshman is expected to start at outside linebacker for the Owls. Will Navy focus on him and force him to make reads? If he is overanxious, will Navy run counter options and reverses to his side? I thought Navy attacked the young LBs for ECU in the opener last year to great affect.

Who is the Inside Man? 
Hampton, Polanco and Owens all were good inside runners (especially the first two). I don't think Kaipo is as strong as those three, even though he looks a lot stronger this year than he did last year. How much inside running will he do? My guess is where the others relied on strength, Kaipo may just be fast enough to pop through the defensive line unscathed.

But there's no way around it—the Navy QB has to run inside.

Prediction? 
Not from me. I quit that game after predicting that Oz would actually get a response from someone at West Point over the summer.

I will be watching: Navy's passing game—not the attempts, but the yards per attempt.

If/how Harper and the two guards are moving Temple's mammoth DTs.

And finally, the O-line rotation. Navy used at least eight linemen in the opener last year and didn't miss a beat. My three concerns are o-line depth, QB depth and whether the secondary can make plays. If those three things come good, I am expecting a big season.


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