Every fifth grade student learns this basic tenant in Geometry class: the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
Little Matty Rhule must have called in sick for that class because on Saturday, inches from the Rutgers’ 20 with less than two minutes remaining, the Temple head football coach elected to run a play to the halfback, Kenny Harper, out of a shotgun formation instead of sneaking his 6-1 quarterback, P.J. Walker, straight ahead for the three or four inches needed for a first down.
Since Rutgers was out of time outs, had the Owls secured that first down, all that was left was three kneel downs for what would have been Temple’s first-ever AAC win. Instead, Rutgers stopped a slow developing play two yards into the backfield, got the ball back and quarterback Gary Nova executed an effective drive that resulted in a 23-20 win for the Scarlet Knights.
What made the curious play call all the more egregious was the fact that Temple has one of the best centers in the country in sophomore Kyle Friend, a 6-foot-2, 305-pound behemoth who neutralized Notre Dame All-American Louis Nix III in the Owls’ opener. Arguably, Friend is the Owls’ best player. Before the season, Rhule said that the team gave out single-digit numbers to the nine “toughest” guys on the team but that the only reason Friend did not get No. 1 was because offensive linemen are not allowed to wear single digits. He might not be the best player only because of what has happened over the last few weeks, but certainly is the toughest.
It’s arguable because the team’s best player over the last few weeks has turned out to be Walker, his true freshman quarterback. Either way, you are giving the ball to either your first- or second-best player followed through the hole by either your first- or second-best player.
For a head coach, failing geometry is one thing but failing logic is far worse.
Mike Gibson, an Associated Press Sports Editors’ Association and Keystone Press Association award-winner for Best Sports Story and Best Sports Feature, is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.