Preview 2017: Can Geoff Collins Keep It All Going?
Temple has been great lately, and now it’s up to Geoff Collins to keep it all going.
Temple being really good at football isn’t a given.
For a long, long time, just getting a win – any win – was like pulling teeth, going 4-42 from 2003 to 2006, and without a winning season from 1991 to 2008 and just three from 1980 to 2008.
It was a basketball school, it was a city school, it was a place that couldn’t keep any of the good talents close to home and couldn’t muster enough interest from the fan base to accept anything more than mediocre-to-miserable seasons.
Al Golden was a miracle worker making the program relevant. But it still required a major effort to keep it all going, reverting back to form going 12-23 from 2012 to 2014 after losing Golden to Miami.
Matt Rhule was able to pick it back up and make Temple better, fighting through two of those down years to go 20-7 with two American Athletic East titles and a conference championship.
But again, it’s not a given that new head man Geoff Collins will be able to keep it all going.
It takes a little luck, the right mix, and a slew of try-hards who happen to work out – like getting a walk-on in Hasson Reddick who turns into a first round NFL Draft pass rusher – and a lot of building.
The 2016 champion was led by a four-year starting quarterback in Philip Walker and dominated at times with a whole slew of great senior defenders. Rhule had to get Temple to last year’s point.
Collins is the right type of coach, though, to keep making it work.
Overdue for his first head coaching job, he worked his way up as a defensive coordinator at Mississippi State and Florida, and that’s how the Owls will continue to win.
Keep playing tough, hard-nosed, aggressive defense, employ an efficient offense that doesn’t make mistakes, and it’s possible to win in the American Athletic.
The defense that has to replace so much pass rushing production gets back a loaded secondary led by a great group of safeties. The entire starting linebacking corps might be done, but it’ll be an athletic crew, while the beef on the interior of the line should be great to work around.
Losing the leading rusher (Jahad Thomas), veteran quarterback (Philip Walker), and NFL left tackle (Dion Dawkins) would normally be a killer for Temple, but there’s hope.
The receiving corps should be among the best in the AAC, Ryquell Armstead was a more productive running back than Thomas at times last year, and the line gets just enough starting experience back to be okay.
The quarterback situation is the question mark, but as long as the running game works and the defense is okay, it’s still possible to win at Temple.
The program made a successful transition of power once. Do it again with the move to Collins, and it’ll be a given that Temple has changed for good.