Preview 2017: Temple Owls
Previewing and looking ahead at the Temple Owls season – and what you need to know.
What You Need To Know About The Temple Offense
It’s all about the quarterback situation. With a new starting quarterback for the first time in four years, the battle for the gig will go on through the summer and into the early part of the season. As long as the main man is efficient and keeps the mistakes to a minimum, the offense will be okay.
Ventell Bryant is a true No. 1 target leading, arguably, the team’s biggest strength with the top four wide receivers returning. It won’t be bombs away, but this group will keep the chains moving when Ryquell Armstead doesn’t.
Even without leading rusher Jahad Thomas, Armstead will take over and get the job done after averaging close to six yards per carry with 14 scores. When he got his chances, he got the job done. Now he’ll work behind a line with three starters back, but has to be better in pass protection.
Biggest Key To The Temple Offense
The running game has to work. For the entire puzzle to work – considering the Owls aren’t going to make too many wild and crazy changes with the new coaching staff – the ground attack has to control things.
Temple lost four games last season, and all four were the worst rushing days of the season, bottoming out in the bowl loss to Wake Forest with the line unable to handle the pass rush – the Owls finished with -20 yards on 23 carries. Going back to 2015, Temple is 0-for-its-last-6 when running for fewer than 100 yards.
What You Need To Know About The Temple Defense
The defense that finished third in the nation in total defense and 11th in scoring probably isn’t going to fall off the map, but it’s going to need a whole slew of help with five starters back.
However, losing all-star talents Haason Reddick and three starters up front, with four of the top five tacklers gone, and with most of the pass rushing production done, it’s going to be a work in progress. Getting a few key injured parts back should help boost up the front, and there’s just enough size on the inside to be okay.
The linebacking corps will need to find new playmakers and leaders with all three starters gone. It’s a promising group returning, but it’ll be really young behind the line that won’t provide enough help early on.
The secondary will be the strength right away, with three starters back including the safety tandem of Delvon Reddick and Sean Chandler. The nation’s third-best pass defense will be fine.
Biggest Key To The Temple Defense
Keep the pass rush rolling. Out of the 40 sacks generated last season, 10.5 came from Philadelphia Eagle Haason Reddick, along with most of the senior stars. Just 8.5 sacks of the production returns to a D that lived on pressure. The show has to go on, and that includes just getting into the backfield. The Owls came up with 103 tackles for loss – most of those have to be replaced, too.
Temple Will Be Far Better If …
The quarterback situation is settled right away. Philip Walker might have been an interception machine, but he was a four-year starter who stayed on the field and grew with the team into a champion.
It’s not just about the Owl QB being able to bomb away – and Walker was able to do that at times, highlighted by a 445-yard day against Memphis – it’s also about keeping the mistakes to a minimum while keeping the chains moving. If the Owls are going to have any shot of getting in the title chase, they need a difference-maker to emerge.
Best Temple Offensive Player
WR Ventell Bryant, Jr. – The team’s leading receiver needs to be one of the skill guys who – along with 14-touchdown pack Ryquell Armstead – steps up to help out keep the O going in the transition. The 6-3, 189-pounder was banged up early on, but he came back to catch 54 passes for 895 yards and four scores, lighting up Wake Forest in the bowl with 11 catches for 151 yards, and hitting the 100-yard mark three times.
2. RB Ryquell Armstead, Jr.
3. PK Aaron Boumerhi, Soph.
4. WR Keith Kirkwood, Sr.
5. OT Leon Johnson, Sr.
Best Temple Defensive Player
S Delvon Randall, Jr. – The 5-11, 208-pound junior has good size and tough hitting ability in the body of a wide receiver. Fast, athletic, and tough, he picked off four passes and was third on the team with 65 tackles from his safety spot. Able to get behind the line, he came up with six tackles for loss, and quick enough to be terrific in pass coverage, he broke up five passes. He’ll be the all-star leader of another good secondary.
2. S Sean Chandler, Sr.
3. DT Michael Dogbe, Jr.
4. CB Artrel Foster, Sr.
5. LB Jared Folks, Jr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Frank Nutile, Jr. Or sophomore Logan Marchi, or big Anthony Russo, or new recruit Todd Centeio. Some has to replace veteran Phillip Walker, who put up big numbers overall over the last four years and took Temple to a title.
The 6-4, 219-pound Nutile might have the inside track with his size, age, and a little bit of experience, but everyone is getting a shot at the job. Russo might be the best of the bunch, but he needs time. Nutile is the safe choice for an offense that needs to keep the efficient attack going.
The Temple Season Will Be A Success If …
It’s back to a bowl game. Considering it’s a rebuilding year – and with the strong teams in the division – it might be too much to think about a repeat conference championship campaign. However, Collins should be able to do just enough to keep Temple in the hunt, especially against a not-that-bad schedule with most of the key battles at home.
Getting to at least six wins shouldn’t be a problem, and while Temple is past the point of aiming low, a bowl appearance would show the transition was smooth. But, if the Owls want to be players, they need to beat …
Key Game To The Temple Season
Sept. 21 at South Florida – So there’s a concern about whether or not Temple is back at a conference title level after all the turnover, the coaching change and the lost starters? Beat USF on national TV on a Friday night on the road.
With Houston up next, it could be a rough start for the Owls with a loss to Charlie Strong’s team in their American Athletic opener. Temple’s 46-30 win over the Bulls last season was the key to the East – and the conference championship. This year’s battle might be, too.
2016 Temple Fun Stats
– Sacks: Temple 41 for 278 yards – Opponents 29 for 254 yards
– Time of Possession: Temple 33:33 – Opponents 26:28
– Fumbles: Opponents 32 (lost 13) – Temple 15 (lost 6)