— Story by Chris Franklin @
Mike Leach, a coach who had success with the spread offense, was giving a presentation about the spread offense at a coaching conference. A young coach in the audience had a question that he wanted to ask the coach.
“What would happen if you could ever marry some triple-option with some read-option or some speed option with this offense?”
“If could ever do that, you will be darn near indefensible because the thing that was going to make you go against the option will not make you good against the spread passing game.”
The young coach listened to what Leach said. Years later, the coach who asked the question would become the offensive coordinator for the Temple Owls. Dave Patenaude is tasked to not only to scheme the Owls offensive attack, but he also has to determine who will be the next starting quarterback for the team.
Patenaude has been coaching for a long time. Before being at Coastal Carolina., he was at Hofstra, Georgetown, Holy Cross as well as other Division III schools. While at Coastal Carolina, his offenses were prolific. The Chanticleers offense was consistently ranked at the top of the FCS football. His offense can trace its roots to different systems.
“I was an option guy dating back to the first three jobs that I had, with the Coast Guard Academy and then at Springfield College. We were overmatched a little bit, and the option offense was an equalizer to the defenses we faced. I learned the Kansas State offensive system. That was in the mid to late 90s when they were having a lot of success with running a lot of multiple one back sets.”
Patenaude’s offense also has some elements of Chip Kelly’s offense at the University of New Hampshire as well as Rich Rodriguez’s West Virginia offense, Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense and even a little Hal Mumme who was one of the early adopters of the Air Raid Offense.
While Patenaude has usually used the spread offense, he is willing to adapt his offense to the players on the team. The last few years, Temple has run a power run game which has set up the play-action pass. With a lot of the players on offense coming back this season, he will have to find a way to adapt his offense to the people currently on the roster.
“I think it is always an adaptation of the system. You have to get an idea of who your guys are, what they have been successful at and what the identity of this program is. When you look at Temple football going back to when then this program started to take off, it was a power running scheme and being able to knock people down. Temple has recruited that way, so we have good fullbacks and good tight ends and big offensive linemen in the program. “When you look at what they have been successful at over the last few years with Coach Rhule, it was hit you in the nose, bloody your nose type of run game to put teams away.”
At Coastal Carolina, Patenaude used a lot of “11 personnel” meaning there were one running back and one tight end and three wide receivers. Under Rhule, Temple ran a lot of 22 (two running backs and two tight ends). Patenaude will not completely abandon the 22 look but will show some other formations and personnel packages.
“When you look at our roster, we have seven or eight wide outs that are as good as anybody in the country” Patenaude stated. “If you put our running back and our top four wide receivers on the field, we will be as good as anybody in the country. I would be missing out on a huge piece of what we’re doing if we were not able to spread people out. That being said that does not mean we are going to go four receivers on the field and chuck and duck. We want to be able to pack them in and get it on the edge, pack them in and throw it, spread them out and run it. It will be a mix of all of those things.”
One of the biggest questions heading into the season is who will be under center when the Owls open up the season against Notre Dame. Quarterbacks Logan Marchi, Frank Nutile and Anthony Russo, will be vying for the job. Patenaude will be using a few factors when deciding who will win the job.
“How smart are they is a huge piece of it. Do they have an understanding of the game? Do they know where they want to go with the ball? Can they check protections? Can they check run game, that is a big piece of it. I think the most underdeveloped part of quarterback coaching is between the ears. We are going to put a lot of pressure on those guys to know the game inside and out and to know our offense, know how to get themselves out of trouble. They are going to have to be a smart guy to be effective.”
Patenaude said that he would adapt the offense around the quarterback and what he does best.
“If that guy is a pocket guy who can sling it, then don’t ask him to run the quarterback run game stuff. Conversely, if you have a kid that can run, you put a lot more stress on the defense when you have a mobile quarterback that can run a little bit of Q-read, a little bit of speed option and then get himself out of trouble in the passing game. I have watched all of the preseason stuff of the quarterbacks. I watched a lot of the bowl practices where they all had some opportunities to get some work. They all can play. Our fans should not be worried about if we will get good production out of the quarterback position. We definitelywill. It just might not be as traditional as they have seen with Phillip Walker over the last three or four years.”
One thing that may make an appearance are some unique formations. The offense will may a have a new wrinkle in it each week that could come out of nowhere.
“All you have to do is throw it out there one time on a bubble screen or hand it off on a reverse one time or shift the line, and those guys have to work on that be ready to see it. It does not change anything for us. We are going to run power, we are going to run zone or a screen but the more looks that you can get them to defend pre-snap, I think cuts down on the time they can work on all the basic stuff. We do not consider any of that stuff tricks or gadget plays; we consider that stuff part of the normal offense. It is stuff that we practice every week.”
It does not matter if it is a run up the middle or a fade pattern down the field, the one thing is sure, the 2017 version of the Temple offense will be interesting.