2012 Temple Preview – Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Temple Owl Offense
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: For the first time in years, the Owls begin a season with a degree of stability and certainty behind center. Junior Chris Coyer was fantastic over the final month of 2011, accounting for nine touchdowns without a pick, and bringing a physical, dual-threat quality to the position. He looks capable of becoming the unquestioned leader of the unit, even with Penn State transfer Kevin Newsome arriving in July. While top rusher Bernard Pierce left school early for the NFL, Matt Brown has already proven he's capable of carrying the load, even at 5-5 and 165 pounds. He's rushed for 2,275 career yards and 18 touchdowns, going over 100 yards in nine different games. Providing breathers will be 225-pound Kenny Harper and possibly Jalen Fitzpatrick, who's capable of giving head coach Steve Addazio a Percy Harvin-type threat out of the backfield or split out wide. The passing game, on the other hand, is likely to be inconsistent. Coyer still has plenty to prove as a drop-back thrower, and only one receiver, Deon Miller, who caught more than three passes a year ago. An even greater worry in Philadelphia will be the offensive line. Five seniors with starting experience have graduated, leaving RT Martin Wallace as the lone holdover. While patched-up senior Sean Boyle shows promise at center, using a redshirt freshman, Zach Hooks, at left tackle is a frightening proposition as Temple makes its return to the Big East.
Star of the offense: Senior RB Matt Brown
Passing: Chris Coyer
30-50, 463 yds, 6 TDs, 0 INTs
Rushing: Matt Brown
155 carries, 916 yds, 6 TDs
Receiving: Deon Miller
18 catches, 253 yds, 3 TDs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior C Sean Boyle
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Deon Miller
Best pro prospect: Brown
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Brown, 2) Junior QB Chris Coyer, 3) Senior RT Martin Wallace
Strength of the offense: The ground game, the backfield, protecting the ball, converting on third downs
Weakness of the offense: The passing game, wide receiver and tight end, the rebuilt offensive line, red zone touchdowns
What took you so long, coach? When junior Chris Coyer finally got his chance to run the Temple offense last November, he lit a fire under it. The 6-3, 230-pounder, started four games, all wins, and capped his improbable late-season outburst by getting named Offensive MVP of the New Mexico Bowl. In eight total appearances, he finished 30-of-50 for 463 yards, six touchdowns and no picks. However, consistent with his run-first persona in this attack, he also rushed for 562 yards and three scores on 69 carries. The left-handed Coyer at times looked like another former pupil of Owls head coach Steve Addazio, Tim Tebow, rumbling through the line and bouncing off would-be tacklers.
Backing up Coyer will be 6-3, 220-pound junior Clinton Granger , another of the multi-dimensional threats behind center. The local product—and former transfer from Pierce (Calif.) College—has the size, speed and vision to become a very effective runner in the Owls version of the run-heavy spread.
Watch Out For .... the impact of Penn State transfer Kevin Newsome . The 6-2, 230-pound former top recruit of the Nittany Lions never panned out in three years in Happy Valley, and is looking for a second chance to make good on his once-lofty expectations.
Strength: The ground game. All three of the Temple quarterbacks are physical, quality athletes, who will tuck the ball and take off into the secondary. Coyer is the headliner of the trio, showcasing all of his potential last Nov. 2 when he ripped through the Ohio defense for 184 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Weakness: The passing game. Coyer and his teammates have a long way to go before becoming complete quarterbacks and true dual-threats. The lefty has just average arm strength, and needs to work on his mechanics. After ranking 116th nationally in passing in 2011, Temple has its hands full as the level of competition ratchets markedly higher in the Big East.
Outlook: All things considered, Temple is in much better shape behind center than it was this time last year. Coyer has established himself as the clear frontrunner, Granger is no longer a newcomer and Newsome will soon be on board to provide more competition. The Owls are deep and capable of gashing opponents on the ground. If they can just polish up their act through the air, the rest of the offense will enjoy the benefits.
Superstar former Owl Bernard Pierce is now a Baltimore Raven, leaving a gaping hole in the Temple running game. Even at 5-5 and 165 pounds, senior Matt Brown feels as if he's big enough to fill the void in the backfield. Philadelphia's version of Oregon super-sub Kenjon Barner, Brown is finally getting a starring role after playing so well in the shadows of Pierce. Despite starting just 10 career games, he's rushed for 2,275 yards, including a personal-best 916 yards and six touchdowns on 155 carries in 2011. Incredibly agile and light on his feet, Brown can squirt through the tiniest hole of the defense, and make the guys whiff in an attempt to bring him down.
Sophomore backup Kenny Harper will bring considerably more size to the running game. At 6-0 and 225 pounds, he's the big back that the Owls will use in short-yardage situations. The Gainesville, Fla. native had a strong spring, looking stronger and determined to assume a larger after rushing 33 times for 128 yards and a score as a true freshman.
Moving up to No. 3 on the depth chart is 5-10, 205-pound redshirt freshman Spencer Reid , son of Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid. In an offense that ran the ball 636 times last year, Reid is liable to earn a couple of touches each game.
Watch Out For .... Brown to do just fine in a feature role. Despite being diminutive and a backup for most of his career, he has already proven he can shoulder the load. Since getting his first taste of action midway through his rookie year, he has carried the ball at least 20 times in seven different games, showing improbable durability for such a small back.
Strength: Size. As strange as it may sound for a 5-5, 165-pounder, Brown actually uses his frame as a valuable tool for success. Because his blockers, on offense and special teams, can be almost a foot taller, the jackrabbit will deftly hide behind them before exploding into daylight. He may be short, but he does not play small. There is a huge difference in the characterizations.
Weakness: Depth. What made Temple extra special on the ground in recent years is that a player of Brown's caliber was coming off the bench to provide a change of pace and a fresh set of legs. However, now that Pierce is gone, and Brown is the focal point of the running game, it'll be up to a young and inexperienced collection of backups to provide a consistent spark off the bench.
Outlook: Not only is Brown preparing for a significant promotion, but he'll also have to prove that he's able to handle the weekly pounding of playing in the Big East. A lifetime of overcoming the odds should have him ready to deliver. He'll contend for the conference rushing title, while Harper does a lot of the dirty, pounding between the tackles when the Owls need a first down or a touchdown near the goal line.
While Temple won't throw the ball a ton, completing just 116 passes in 2011, it's still going to hurt to lose last season's top three pass-catchers. The new leader of the unit is likely to be junior Deon Miller , the starter at "X". At 6-5 and 210 pounds, he has a lot of natural ability that simply needs to be coaxed into more productivity and consistency. As a starter in all but one game last season, he put down the ground floor of a promising career by catching 18 balls for 253 yards and three touchdowns.
QB Chris Coyer will have access to another big target on the outside, at "Z" receiver, senior Malcolm Eugene . The former JUCO All-American at ASA (NY) College earned a letter in his Owl debut, but waited until the bowl game to catch his only two passes. The 6-4, 205-pounder has looked more comfortable in the system so far this year, which Temple hopes will translate to more receptions.
Junior Cody Booth is hoping to become the chief beneficiary of an offense that likes to use its tight ends and H-backs on short and intermediate routes. The 6-5, 250-pound former walk-on started four games last season, catching a pair of balls for 24 yards, and proving to be a solid blue-collar blocker in the running game.
The veteran off the bench will be 6-2, 193-pound senior C.J. Hammond , Miller's backup at "X". A once-promising career was stunted by a serious knee injury suffered in 2010. He returned to play in seven games a year ago, pulling down his first career reception for 18 yards.
Watch Out For .... the receivers to get a few additional chances to make plays this fall. Temple wishes to be a little more balanced in 2012, good news for Miller and Eugene on the outside. The Owls will still be a run-first outfit, but they're hoping to loosen up defenses a bit with the help of play-action and shots over the top.
Strength: Length. Coyer should have few problems locating his two primary receivers, who both measure no smaller than 6-4. Miller and Eugene will not only provide the quarterback with a sizable catch radius with which to target, but also useful weapons near the end zone on jump balls.
Weakness: Depth of talent. Not only are the two main wide receivers and projected tight end unproven, but the team's backups are woefully inexperienced as well. Miller is the bell-cow of the group, yet brings only 24 career receptions into the 2012 campaign. The unit will be forced to grow up on the fly this fall.
Outlook: After residing in the background a year ago, Miller and Eugene are about to get a nice opportunity to be the main targets of Coyer. Although the Owls receivers are used as much for their blocking as they are for their catching, both of the starters should have a chance to make 40 grabs in 2012. Of almost equal importance, Temple would love for one its tight ends, such as Booth, to emerge and offset some of the lost production from current Chicago Bear Evan Rodriguez.
No single unit on offense figures to get more attention this summer than an O-line working to replace four of last year's starters. The lone returner will be senior Martin Wallace , who will reprise his role as the starting right tackle. Since the quarterback is a southpaw, Wallace will provide blindside protection, much the way he did over the second half of 2011. He's a heady, hard-working 6-6, 300-pounder who originally began his career at Northeastern before the university opted to drop football at the end of the 2009 season.
The favorite to man left tackle this year will be 6-6, 280-pound Zach Hooks . While just a redshirt freshman, he has the right amount of athletic ability and agility to gradually emerge into a quality pass blocker. He'll spend the summer trying to sharpen his skills, while holding off 6-6, 310-pound junior Darryl Pringle. Pringle has earned two letters as an Owl, even starting a pair of games as a rookie in 2010.
All eyes will be on the continued recovery of 6-5, 300-pound senior Sean Boyle , who might finally be healthy after missing the last two seasons following four shoulder surgeries. When at full strength, he could be a difference-maker at center for Temple, providing leadership and a decisive push from the pivot. The Owls desperately need him to be right to have a chance in the trenches in 2012.
The veteran among the guards, junior Jeff Whittingham is in the lead to start on the left side. After spending his first two seasons on defense, he switched over to offense in 2011, and played in three games. The coaching staff believes that he's tough enough at the point of attack to become an asset as a run blocker.
At right guard, sophomore Jaimen Newman is on the verge of winning a job. He lettered in his first season of action, playing in six games. At 6-4 and 290 pounds, the Owls believe he can add a few extra pounds, hone his technique and bloom over time into an effective north-south blocker. He's being tailed closely by 6-3, 302-pound junior Scott Roorda , a blue-collar blocker who appeared in four games in 2011.
Watch Out For .... Boyle's health. Temple is going to struggle in the trenches this fall, but it'll labor just a little less if the senior is able to approach his pre-injury form. More than just a capable blocker, he's the type of heady, passionate leader that the Owls can sorely use at center.
Strength: Run blocking. Sure, this is going to be a very different unit than in recent years, but every one of the holdovers has been taught the same lessons—block with authority, and do whatever is necessary to create space for the running backs. The Owls will once again be a physical crew that averages just around 300 pounds from left to right.
Weakness: Experience and depth. Temple knew it was coming, yet remains unprepared for life without four of last year's starters, two of whom were All-MAC performers. Not only will this be a noticeably unproven bunch of blockers, but they're about to face a much higher level of competition in the Big East.
Outlook: There are a number of reasons why Temple will have problems in its first year in a new league. This offensive line is one of the main ones. It figures to be a rag-tag bunch of transfers, rookies and returners from the disabled list. They'll have their hands full with the likes of Louisville, South Florida and Rutgers, throwing a wrench into the plans of an offense that will sputter without proper support up front.
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2012 Temple Defense |
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