Temple tweaks offensive philosophy

PHILADELPHIA -- Temple coach Steve Addazio has always had a vision for his offense: a perfect blend of the power-run game and the spread, a way to keep defenses totally guessing.

He never quite got there during his time as offensive coordinator at Florida. But he thinks he is there now with Temple, thanks to a dual-threat/power-run quarterback in Chris Coyer, and some hybrid players at the tailback, receiver, fullback and tight end.

"I always thought cutting edge was the ability to not only be in a spread component, but then to have the ability to line up under center and come right at you," Addazio said. "We never quite got that done at Florida. We stayed in the shotgun with Tim (Tebow) and we had a lot of success with Tim doing that. ... But in my heart, I always knew, when I get a chance I'm going to run this thing. I want a defense to feel the power aspect, defend the run-power game, and then have the ability in that same grouping to spread the field and put in a spread-option component. That's where we are now."

It has taken time. Addazio's first order of business when he arrived at Temple was to mold a physical football team. That meant focusing heavily on the power-run game, something he could do with two established runners in Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown and a veteran offensive line.

When he turned to Coyer as his starter deep into the season, he was able to evolve the spread aspect of the offense. Coyer has the ability to line up under center or in the shotgun, something Temple did plenty of in its bowl win against Wyoming.

"I think we've got that blend now I've wanted the last couple of years," Addazio said. "When you play us, you're going to get a power attack in the running game, a two-back, two-tight end, fullback, downhill-run game at you. And then you're going to get a shotgun spread-option game coming right at you as well. That's a way that's going to be unique as we move forward. That's my vision. It was a great feeling being able to get that done up here because I wanted to get that done for a long time."

Keeping defenses off guard is a huge goal in Year 1 in the Big East. Addazio and offensive coordinator Ryan Day hopes this gives the Owls an advantage in a new conference environment, because they may be at a disadvantage in other areas, like depth and size up front.

"A defense only has so much time on a week to week basis to prepare for what you are doing," Day said. "Lining up under center, having a power run game creates its own issues for a defense. Attacking a defense with that, then having the spread offense component to it, now it creates a lot of stress to say: 'Now this is what we have to stop but wait a minute, we also have to stop this and we also have to stop this.'"

So who are the key players to watch in 2012 at some of these hybrid positions? Addazio breaks a few down:

QB: Coyer. "He gives us a chance to be more multi-dimensional." On the comparisons between Coyer and Tebow, he said, "We are headed that way now. I see some of the similarity there. The difference for us is, we are still going to have a lot of under center offense."

IR/TB: Jalen Fitzpatrick. "He was a spread-option quarterback in high school. We brought him here, and moved him to inside receiver and then to tailback. Since (former Florida receiver) Percy Harvin, he is a guy to me that is a true hybrid. He really can do that."

TB/FB: Kenny Harper. "Kenny is a 230-pound back. He is tough so you can put him in as a tailback or fullback. So that gives you another hybrid deal."

TE/FB. Alex Jackson. "He's a guy that can play on the point and block you, he can stretch the field vertically with his speed but he is now learning how to have power on the attack. He's a hybrid tight end. What's a hybrid tight end? It's a guy who can line up in the backfield and move around, line up and block you, or you can flex him out and he can beat a safety in man coverage."