2012 Temple Preview - Back To The Big East
Temple QB Chris Coyer
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview & Analysis - Temple Owls
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By Richard Cirminiello
These are heady times for Temple football, a program that not long ago was on the college football scrap heap.
Head coach: Steve Addazio
Second year: 9-4
Off. 24, Def. 25, ST, 1
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best Temple Players
1. RB Matt Brown, Sr.
2. QB Chris Coyer, Jr.
3. P/PK Brandon McManus, Sr.
4. SS Justin Gildea, Sr.
5. NT Levi Brown, Jr.
6. LB Ahkeem Smith, Sr.
7. WR Deon Miller, Jr.
8. RT Martin Wallace, Sr.
9. LB Blaze Caponegro, Jr.
10. DE John Youboty, Sr.
Aug. 31 Villanova
Sep. 8 Maryland
Sep. 16 OPEN DATE
Sep. 22 at Penn State
Sep. 29 OPEN DATE
Oct. 6 South Florida
Oct. 13 at Connecticut
Oct. 20 Rutgers
Oct. 27 at Pitt
Nov. 3 at Louisville
Nov. 10 Cincinnati
Nov. 17 at Army
Nov. 23 Syracuse
Temple has played in two bowl games over the last three years, marking a highly improbable resurgence that began with head coach Al Golden, and has been continued with Steve Addazio. Last year’s squad went 9-4, capping a season-ending four-game winning streak with its first bowl victory since 1979. And then, the exclamation point occurred in early March, when the Owls were invited back to the same Big East that had exiled them almost a decade ago.
Temple is on an uptick, which has a chance to continue slowly bleeding into the fan base, boosters and prospective recruits.
Hey, this is a tough place to win, and everyone close to the school knows it. There’s minimal positive history or tradition at Temple, its home stadium is shared with the Philadelphia Eagles and none of the region’s best recruits ever wind up wearing the cherry and white.
Oh, and as if the task of being an Owl isn’t already tough enough, the university is located in a decidedly pro town, making it next to impossible to generate much local buzz, or make many headlines.
Temple has a limited ceiling, yet Golden and now Addazio have found ways to somehow raise it with good old-fashioned player development, a tireless work ethic and an attention to detail on both sides of the ball. The Owls have not been particularly sexy on their journey to respectability, using quality line play, a rock-solid defense and a disciplined ground game to buck the odds. And it has been working beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.
Temple lost a lot of talent from last season’s New Mexico Bowl-champion squad. Obviously, the school is determined to leave no doubts in Year 1 of its return to the Big East that it belongs in a more formidable conference that will send its winner to a BCS bowl game in 2012 and 2013. If successful, the Owls will have made their biggest stride to date, exorcising recent demons that had it wondering if it would ever again be competitive in football.
What to watch for on offense: Coyer meets world. Junior QB Chris Coyer was a well-kept secret a year ago. And why not? He started just four games down the stretch for a program out of the MAC. However, now that he’s a more established entity—and his Owls reside in the Big East—he could become quite a bit little less anonymous in 2012. While still developing as a passer, he was virtually unstoppable as a runner, a quality this offense likes in its quarterbacks. In fact, despite playing an abbreviated slate, the 6-3, 230-pound Coyer still rumbled for 562 yards and three scores on only 69 carries.
What to watch for on defense: Youboty call. In dire need of a capable pass rusher to emerge in the aftermath of Adrian Robinson’s graduation, the staff is holding out hope that senior John Youboty can approach his once-sizable potential. The end, who originally turned down major offers to play for Mark Snyder at Marshall, transferred to Temple following a serious vertebra injury. Last year was spent getting comfortable being back on the field. The hope is that this year can be spent chasing down quarterbacks, and sparking the first line of the Owls defense.
The team will be far better if… the passing begins to pick up some of the slack. Under Steve Addazio, this will remain a team that puts more weight on the ground game, but that doesn’t absolve the passing attack from showing up. After ranking 116th nationally in passing offense, the Owls are eager to take a few more shots downfield, leveraging the big-play possibilities of receivers Deon Miller and Malcolm Eugene. If Coyer can become even slightly more dangerous over the top, it’s going to free up more space for the backs. In last season’s first three losses, Temple averaged 11 points a game, while not throwing a touchdown pass.
The Schedule: Along with the annual loss to Penn State the non-conference schedule is a bit rough to kick things off with a tougher-than-it-looks opener against Villanoca followed up by a game against a Maryland team that needs the win. The first year back in the Big East isn't going to be easy with a rough stretch of three road games in four weeks to go along with
the non-conference road dates at Penn State and Army. On the plus side, the Owls only leave the state of Pennsylvania three times and won't have to travel far, but going to Louisville and Pitt in back-to-back weeks will be rough while the regular season finale at home against Syracuse comes six days after going to Army.
Best offensive player: Senior RB Matt Brown. Out from the long shadow of Bernard Pierce emerges Brown, one of the country’s most productive backup running backs of the last three seasons. The one-time super-sub is eager for his chance to shine as the focal point of the prolific Temple running game. Undersized, lightning quick and very tough to hit with a clean shot, he has rushed for 2,275 career yards, most off the bench, including a personal-high 916 yards and six touchdowns on 155 carries a year ago.
Best defensive player: Senior SS Justin Gildea. Although Gildea doesn’t look the part, and wasn’t highly regarded coming out of high school, he just continues to make things happen for the Temple D. A 5-11, 190-pound playmaker, with an insatiable appetite for getting his nose in the mix, he made 51 tackles, 4.5 stops for loss, three sacks and three interceptions a year ago. Beyond the numbers, he plays with the kind of tenacity and passion that rubs off on his teammates, and gets the home crowd more involved in the game.
Key players to a successful season: the offensive linemen. The Owls have plenty of potential on offense, with the backfield tandem of QB Chris Coyer and RB Matt Brown. However, neither player is going to play to his full potential if the O-line is unable to successfully transition to the insertion of four new starters. The Owls lost a lot of talent to graduation, leaving just RT Martin Wallace as a holdover. Temple won’t be Temple if it’s unable to grind out the yards behind new starters, such as rookie LT Zach Hooks and sophomore RG Jaimen Newman.
The season will be a success if ... the Owls avoid the Big East cellar, surprising the rest of the league with their competitiveness. Expectations are modest for Temple as it takes a step up in weight class with a squad that lost a slew of key contributors to graduation. If the school can hold its own in a deeper league by finishing in fifth or sixth, it’ll be a victory for Steve Addazio and his staff, with or without a bowl game. More than anything else, the Owls want to remain off the ground, even after leaving a familiar nest.
Key game: Oct. 20 vs. Rutgers. The Owls and the Scarlet Knights are poised to renew a potential rivalry that never truly took flight in the past, but might now that both have more bite. When Rutgers and Temple were last in the same conference, both were bottom dwellers who only dreamt of postseason games. Now that the two programs, separated by about an hour of tolls and turnpike roads, have located a degree of consistency and success, their meetings promise to create far more interest for fans and local recruits.
2011 Fun Stats:
- Rushing yards per game: Temple 256.5 – Opponents 123.9
- Time of possession: Temple 32:49 – Opponents 27:06
- Second quarter scoring: Temple 159 - Opponents 34
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