4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE TEMPLE DEFENSE
– Six starters and four of the top seven tacklers are back from the second-best defense in the AAC. The Owls allowed just 372 yards and 27 points per game, and they were killers at taking the ball away.
– The secondary got hit for 23 touchdowns and cursed the New York Giants with Daniel Jones – after getting hammered in the bowl game loss – but it was strong overall. When it rained, it poured – allowing three touchdown passes or more in six games, and just one in the other seven games – but the DBs made up for it with a whole ton of picks, coming up with 18 in all.
Rock-Ya Sin is gone at one corner, but Baylor transfer Harrison Hand is an excellent get to step right in, and Linwood Crump is back on the other side. The senior combination of Benny Walls and Keyvone Bruton have to rise up and rock at safety with the loss of stars Delvon Randall and Jyquis Thomas. Sam Franklin is an excellent 63-tackle Rover who can work in a variety of spots.
– Can the pass rush emerge like it did at Northern Illinois under new head man Rod Carey? Quincy Roche has to step up and become even more of a factor on the end after finishing second on the team with nine tackles for loss, senior Dana Levine is a decent end option on the other side. There’s not a ton of bulk on the inside, but there’s just enough experience around veteran junior Dan Archibong to be fine.
– 225-pound Shaun Bradley is one of the best linebackers in the American Athletic. He’s good, senior Chapelle Russell is a tackling-machine of a playmaker, and 230-pound Williams Kwenkeu can bring some thump. Depending on how he’s used, 220-pound Isaiah Graham-Mobley can make a whole lot of plays, too.