When a 2-9 team loses the player who was responsible for 72 percent of its total offense, either reinforcements need to arrive quickly or the scheme needs a makeover.
In the absence of game-ready newcomers, the Temple football team has chosen to do the latter.
Former wide receivers coach Willie Slater replaced David Brock as offensive coordinator this offseason. Slater introduced two-back formations to the spread offense in the spring, adding a twist to an offense that relied on departed quarterback Walter Washington for 3,096 yards of its 4,331 yards of total offense out of a four-wide receiver set.
In a little less than a calendar year, Slater has gone from being the fresh face on the Owls staff to assuming the role he held under Bobby Wallace for six years at Division II North Alabama.
“His personality is going to come out,” Owls coach Bobby Wallace said of Slater’s impact on the offense. “We’re going to be a bit more physical, going to try to run the football a little better with two backs. Last year we were a good running team (37th in the nation), but we were running with a spread offense and a running quarterback.
“It’s completely different this year.”
The addition of pro-set and other two-back formations-Slater was unwilling to give away any specifics-is a sharp departure from Slater’s reputation as an option-style coordinator at North Alabama and Jacksonville State.
The team’s personnel is likely better suited for a two-back attack. Projected starters Tim Brown and Umar Ferguson each logged over 100 carries last season. Meanwhile, senior wide receiver Mike Holley was ineligible last season, and senior wideout Brian Allbrooks and quarterback Mike McGann have appeared in the same game only once.
Slater played down the new formations, noting that the spread sets would not disappear completely.
“The pro-set is only part of the offense,” Slater said. “We’ve still got a lot of the same formations we had last year as part of the formations this year.”
McGann has had plenty of time to reacquaint himself with the starting quarterback position since playing in one game last year, against Bowling Green.
Beginning this past spring, McGann took every snap in practice. The reason: there was no other quarterback on the roster.
In fact, the 2005 preseason depth chart still lists McGann as the lone quarterback.
Holley, a quarterback in high school, and defensive end Philip Simpson were McGann’s backups prior to the arrival of three freshmen who will compete for the No. 2 spot.
Such extensive exposure surely helps McGann, but will not bode well for the Owls should the fifth-year senior suffer an injury, Wallace admitted.
“It wouldn’t matter what our schedule is,” if McGann got hurt, Wallace said. “We would have a very tough time if Mike got hurt. We got caught with one quarterback, and it’s a shame.”
Freshmen Joe DeSanzo, Shane Kelly and Colin Clancy will vie for the backup job. The remaining two will likely redshirt. #