Temple tight end Rodriguez doing more blocking than receiving

Temple's Evan Rodriguez is a candidate for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's top collegiate tight end.
Temple's Evan Rodriguez is a candidate for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's top collegiate tight end. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 01, 2011

Evan Rodriguez rarely holds his tongue, especially when it comes to catching footballs.

Despite being Temple's best pass-catching option, the tight end has only three receptions for 6 yards in the last three games.

Is it frustrating?

"At times it is," said Rodriguez, a candidate for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's top tight end.

"You got our ups and downs," he added. "But you know that's part of the game. We have to stay locked in and keep it positive."

Rodriguez said he would rather lead Temple to a Mid-American Conference title than lead in receptions. But to take the title, the Owls (5-3, 3-2 Mid-American) must get the 6-foot-3, 250-pound senior more involved, especially in Wednesday's MAC East Division game at Ohio (5-3, 2-2).

Lately, however, he's been a victim of his own success and that of Temple's running game. Rodriguez, who transferred from West Virginia in 2008, was used primarily as a blocker against Ball State, Buffalo, and Bowling Green as the Owls relied heavily on their running game.

And on the rare occasions Temple passed, Rodriguez drew multiple defenders. So quarterback Chester Stewart turned wideout Joe Jones (10 catches for 94 yards and one touchdown in the last three games) into his primary target.

"My role is basically when my play is called is to make my play," said Rodriguez, who has 21 receptions for 285 yards and one touchdown. "But I just got to be a leader out there and get other guys going and make my blocks.

"When I block well, and everybody blocks well, that comes into effect on the play-action."

Catching play-action passes in the flat is where he's the most dangerous.

Against Toledo, he turned Stewart's 7-yard pass into a 55-yard TD reception. With Maryland focused on stopping Temple's running game, Rodriguez galloped for a 54-yard gain to the Terrapins' 3 on the Owls' first offensive play. Rodriguez finished the game, a 38-7 stunning romp by Temple, with five receptions for 96 yards.

"You are always trying to," Temple offensive coordinator Scot Leoffler said of getting Rodriguez move involved in the passing game. "He is such a dynamic player that any time he touches the football, he can go.

"And he's doing a great job. Hopefully, we can get him the ball this week."


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 215-313-7081, kpompey@phillynews.com, or @pompeysgridlock on Twitter. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/owlsinq

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