2011 Temple Preview – Offense
Temple WR Rod Streater
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Temple Owl Offense
Preview 2011 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler has experience coaching quarterbacks both at Florida and for the Detroit Lions, while head coach Steve Addazio is the former Gator offensive coordinator and knows how to get an attack moving – last year aside. Seven starters return and the potential is there for the Owls to boast the best group of skill players in the MAC, but it won't matter if the massive line doesn't get the starting combination figured out. The offense worked through many starting fives up front last year, but there's tremendous size and lots of experience to rely on. Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown form a terrific 1-2 rushing punch, the tight ends are fantastic, and there's a great combination of size and speed at receiver. Can the quarterback play be better? Transfer Clinton Granger could be the team's X factor, but veteran Mike Gerardi will get his chances to earn back the starting job.
Star of the offense: Junior RB Bernard Pierce
Passing: Mike Gerardi
93-156, 1,290 yds, 10 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Matt Brown
162 carries, 830 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Rod Streater
30 catches, 481 yds, 4 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior OT/OG Steve Caputo
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore QB Clinton Granger
Best pro prospect: Pierce
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Pierce, 2) RB Matt Brown, 3) TE Evan Rodriguez
Strength of the offense: Running Back, Line Size
Weakness of the offense: Consistent Quarterback, Line Consistency
State of the Unit: The Temple offense hasn't been able to throw the ball for years, but last season the attack was relatively efficient with seven different passers combining to complete 57% of their passes for 2,206 yards and 15 scores with 13 interceptions. After finishing 90th in the nation in passing, the Owls are going to try to do far, far more through the air while hoping for more playmaking from the position.
Is Clinton Granger ready to be the main man right away? The sophomore starters out his career at Pierce College in Los Angeles where he threw for 1,176 yards and ten scores and ran for 200 more with five touchdowns, and now he's being brought in to add some instant spark to the new offense. At 6-3 and 235 pounds, "Juice," a Philadelphia native, is big, fast, and possibly the new face of the program for the next three seasons.
While Granger will play a big role in the offense in some way, junior Mike Gerardi isn't going to just give up the job after taking it over late last year. The 6-2, 206-pound left-hander was only supposed to be a key backup, but he was inserted late in the season and ended up giving the offense a real, live passing game completing 60% of his throws for 1,290 yards and ten scores. However, he gave up eight interceptions with two in four of the last five games. On the plus side, though, he bombed away for 368 yards and two scores in the win over Kent State, and he did his best to come up with a win in the rough loss to Ohio with 311 yards and two scores.
Adding more of a running element to the equation is senior Chester Stewart, a veteran who started the first seven games of last year completing 53% of his throws for 842 yards and four scores with five picks, while running for 40 yards. At 6-3 and 214 pounds he has good size, improved as a passer, and is a far better runner than his stats make it seem. Smart and a good leader, he's an ideal backup who can step in and produce whenever needed.
Watch Out For … Granger. Gerardi and Stewart weren't awful, but the offense needs a quarterback to work around. Granger could be it. Given a chance to go to Minnesota to work as a key backup, he chose to come home to possibly be the main man.
Strength: Experience. Gerardi and Stewart both know what they're doing and each brings something different to the equation. Granger has a year of JUCO experience under his belt and isn't going to start from scratch.
Weakness: Passing. The attack improved in a huge way last year after finishing 106th in the nation in passing efficiency, but almost all of the production came in just two games from Gerardi late in the year. Even if Granger is great, the offensive bread will be buttered with the running game.
Outlook: It's by far the best Temple quarterback situation in years. Gerardi and Stewart can each fight for the starting job and they're each leaders, while Granger is the more talented option who can spend a little time getting his feet wet or can take over right away. No matter who's under center, more passing is a must in the new offense.
Unit Rating: 5
State of the Unit: The Owls have had a decent running game over the last few seasons, with some terrific backs to work around, but the production hasn't been steady and there were way too many down moments down the stretch. The Owls ran all over Army and thundered past Connecticut, but failed to hit the 100-yard mark as a team over the final three games. The pieces are back in place, though, to do far, far more.
Junior Bernard Pierce exploded onto the scene as a true freshman rushing for 1,361 yards and 16 touchdowns as a true freshman, and while he might be the MAC's best player when healthy, staying in one piece has been a nagging problem. After breaking down late in 2009 with a shoulder injury, he came back to rock over the first few games of last year, highlighted by a 169-yard, two score day against UConn. But he suffered a hand injury the next week against Penn State, and then he was hit with an ankle problem, and then he missed the final two games of the year with a hamstring. The 6-0, 218-pounder is big, strong, fast, and great around the goal line, with ten rushing scores and 728 yards on the year. Now he has to prove he can handle the work.
While Pierce was in and out of the lineup, Matt Brown was able to fill-in when needed to crank out yards and big games in chunks. The 5-5, 170-pound scooter led the team with 830 yards and seven scores, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, while finishing fourth on the team with 16 catches for 70 yards. He stepped in for Pierce and ran for 226 yards and four scores against Army, and he managed to fight through some problems to be a part of the ground attack all season long. While he might not be the back that Pierce is, he's a blazer who can get the job done.
Redshirt freshman Myron Myles spent last year as the top scout teamer, and now he'll add more thump to the rushing mix. The 6-1, 210-pounder is a high-character worker who'll do whatever is needed, and he has the speed to go along with his size to potentially become a featured back. Strong, quick, and with all the tools, he'll be a big part of the equation sooner than later.
Watch Out For … a good rotation. Pierce is the franchise, but he keeps getting hurt. The new coaching staff will make sure there's a regular rotation between all the backs to make sure that No. 30 stays in one piece for a full season.
Strength: Talent. Myles would start for most MAC teams, while Pierce and Brown are a talented 1-2 punch that should combine for well over 1,500 yards. Pierce has MAC Player of the Year potential, while Brown is an all-star who was on the All-MAC second team last year.
Weakness: Health. Brown isn't built to handle the rock for an extended period of time, and Pierce has had problems staying in the lineup over the last two seasons.
Outlook: The Owls have the MAC's best backfield with Pierce and Brown each showing what they can do over the last two seasons. There's terrific speed and quickness to go along with the power of Myles to now add to the equation. There might not be too much running from the quarterbacks – unless Clinton Granger decides to take off whenever he's in the lineup – but the backs will take care of everything as long as they can stay healthy.
Unit Rating: 8
State of the Unit: The receivers have been better than the passing game over the last few seasons. The new coaching staff will emphasize the passing attack a bit more and will ask for more out of the receivers, and with the top four wide receivers and tight ends from last year, and with the backs helping out, there are plenty of weapons to work with. Leading receiver Michael Campbell is gone after catching 45 passes for 724 yards and six scores, but there are options ready to pick up the slack.
With Campbell gone, senior Rod Streater has to pick up where he left off after a strong first season. The former JUCO transfer finished second on the team with 30 catches for 481 yards and four scores, averaging 16 yards per catch, coming on late in the year with four catches or more in four of the final six games. At 6-4 and 196 pounds he has excellent size and tremendous athleticism, working as a star high jumper at Alfred State before joining the Owls. He'll be backed up by 5-10, 173-pound junior Darryl Shine, who redshirted last year after starring for Fullerton College as both a top target and a kickoff returner. He'll be a playmaker when he gets his chance.
5-11, 195-pound senior Joe Jones was supposed to play a big role after moving over from his running back job, and he ended up leading the team in 2009 with 28 catches for 387 yards and a score. He wasn't in the mix much late last year and only finished with 11 catches for 169 yards, missing the final six games of the year stuck in Al Golden's doghouse. He's a fast, quick player who can be used like a No. 1 target. Bringing more size to the mix is sophomore Deon Miller, a 6-5, 210-pounder who'll work as a back up in a variety of spots. He has tremendous athleticism and can get deep, and he has the size to outmuscle defensive backs across the middle. After catching six passes for 65 yards, he should be ready to do far more. He was a tremendous get for the program and the coaching staff isn't going to keep him under wraps.
Combining at one receiver spot is 5-9, 170-pound sophomore Ryan Alderman, who made ten catches for 154 yards, and 6-4, 205-pound junior Malcolm Eugene, a JUCO All-American who had his choice of places to go after catching 49 passes for 898 yards and eight scores from ASA College in Brooklyn. Strong and tough, Eugene should be a dangerous part of the receiving rotation right away, while Alderman is a smart, tough, target who can be used as a punt returner if needed.
The Owls are loaded at tight end with two terrific options. 6-3, 250-pound senior Evan Rodriguez started out his career at West Virginia before transferring to Temple, and he came through with a great second season finishing third on the team with 21 catches for 247 yards and two scores. A field stretcher who can block, he has great hands and excellent route-running ability. While Rodriguez is the best receiving tight end, 6-4, 256-pound veteran Matt Balasavage is the better blocker. He started four games and was a key part of the special teams, and while he caught two passes for 21 yards, he was instrumental for the ground attack.
Watch Out For … Eugene and Miller. The two JUCO transfers are too big and have too much upside to not be major parts of the offense. They were both great recruits for the program and no one in the MAC should outmuscle them.
Strength: Tight end. The receiving corps isn't bad, but Rodriguez and Balasavage are two strong veteran tight ends who can work as key blockers for the ground game and nice safety valves for the passing attack. They each have all-star potential.
Weakness: A true No. 1 target. Campbell didn't exactly come from out of nowhere to shine, but he was a minor surprise as he turned into a leading receiver. Streater has the ability to become a main man, and there are plenty of good options, but the passing game isn't exactly high-octane and reliability will be a must.
Outlook: The pieces are there for the receiving corps to be the best Temple has had in years. The JUCO transfers have brought in the size and upgraded the athleticism, while the tight ends are terrific. If the quarterback play can be even a little bit consistent, the receiving corps should come up with a great year.
Unit Rating: 5.5
State of the Unit: The offensive front was a plus last season, and now it should be even better once all the pieces are in the right places. Three starters are back, and while there's plenty of versatility, there could also be a slight problem with making sure everyone is comfortable. There's tremendous size, so blasting away for the ground game shouldn't be a problem. Better pass protection, though, would be nice.
The key to the line could be senior Steve Caputo, a 6-5, 320-pound pounder who can play either left tackle or left guard. He started out the season at tackle and saw time in six games before getting knocked out for the year with a leg injury. The team's Offensive MVP in 2009 after playing at left guard, he's a strong, pounding blocker who's great when he's 100% healthy. That's a problem, though, considering he suffered a knee injury two years ago.
If Caputo works on the inside, then 6-5, 328-pound senior Derek Dennis will get the start after filling in at left tackle for most of last season while also getting two starts at left guard and finishing up the year with two starts at right guard. Over a knee injury that knocked him out in 2009, he'll find starting time somewhere.
6-5, 320-pound senior Pat Boyle started the season at right guard before moving over to the left side. Very smart, he doesn't miss many blocks and he's just athletic enough to start at tackle if needed. Huge, he's an engulfing blocker who'll likely start out at left guard.
Junior Sean Boyle will get a long look at Colin Madison's right guard job with his twin brother, Pat, also getting a shot. Sean has 6-5, 324-pound size, the ability to work at center if needed, and just enough toughness and talent to be a steady run blocker, but he's not as good as his brother.
6-6, 327-pound sophomore Darryl Pringle is a mountain of a right tackle who got two starts late in the year on the left side. Enormous, he has a tough frame to get around and he's plenty tough, but he has to be a more consistent pass blocker or 6-6, 310-pound transfer Martin Wallace will get a shot. The transfer from Northeastern is an All-MAC star in the classroom and can see time at either tackle slot after starting the final two games of last season on the left side.
While most of the other spots are up in the air, the Owls are set at center where 6-6, 312-pound senior John Palumbo is back after spending most of last two years as the main man inside. He started nine times in the middle, but he was moved to guard for a stretch and got pushed out of a starting job over the last few games. Huge, he can play anywhere on the inside, as can 6-3, 306-pound senior Jeremy Schonbrunner, who started against Akron late in the year. The former walk-on is extremely strong and knows what he's doing.
Watch Out For … Caputo. While he's not exactly a sure-thing All-MAC star, where he plays will end up being a big key to the dominos. He needs to find a spot and be a strong, consistent blocker to work around.
Strength: Versatility. For good, several linemen can move around where needed if injuries strike and if more production is needed. The coaching staff shouldn't have a problem putting the five best lineman on the field at one time, however, for bad, there's no …
Weakness: Consistency. The Owls have eight different starting combinations in 12 games and never had the same starting five for more than two games in a row. The new coaching staff has to figure out the best starting five and stick with it through thick and thin.
Outlook: This is a massive line that averages around 6-5 and 320 pounds per man. While it's great for the ground game, with the ability to pound away on a regular basis, the line struggled late in the year and didn't do enough down the stretch. The pass protection could stand to be better, but all that matters is being able to find the right starting lineup that can produce game-in-and-game-out.
Unit Rating: 5.5
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