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2008 Temple Preview - Offense
Temple QB Adam DiMichele
Temple QB Adam DiMichele
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 20, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Temple Owl Offense

Temple Owls

Preview 2008 - Offense


- 2008 CFN Temple Preview | 2008 Temple Offense
- 2008 Temple Defense |
2008 Temple Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Temple Preview | 2006 CFN Temple Preview
 

What you need to know:
The Owls are looking for more of an identity after finishing dead last in the MAC in total offense and scoring, but while things weren't all that great, the attack was far better than it was over previous seasons. Now there are ten returning starters and a ton of young players who have the speed to explode. Goal one is to generate more of a running game with a big, experienced offensive line, led by center Alex Derenthal, looking to pound away and be more physical. QB Adam DiMichele will be back healthy, after breaking his leg late in the year, and should be efficient, and now someone other than Bruce Francis has to make more big plays for the passing game.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Adam DiMichele
138-223, 1,595 yds, 12 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Jason Harper
163 carries, 586 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Bruce Francis
47 catches, 731 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Senior C Alex Derenthal
Player who has to step up and become a star: Freshman RB James Nixon
Unsung star on the rise: Nixon
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Bruce Francis (as a kick returner)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Derenthal, 2) Francis, 3) TE Kevin Armstrong
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, all around experience
Weakness of the offense:
Proven running back production, consistency

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Last year the battle for the starting quarterback job lasted up until the last second, after carrying over from the year before. In the end, senior Adam DiMichele turned out to be the right choice as he made an offense that was at an all-time level for ineptitude occasionally functional before getting knocked out for the year with a broken leg. He's not all that big at 6-1 and 185 pounds, but he's a decent runner and has a live arm. While he has an issue with interceptions, he had some great moments last year throwing for 299 yards and four scores in the loss to Bowling Green and 313 yards and two scores in a loss to Army. The leg will be 100% by fall and he's already been allowed to participate in non-contact drills.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Vaughn Charlton was neck-and-neck with Adam DiMichele for the starting job over the last two years before being the second stringer throughout the first seven games of last season, and then he got his shot when DiMichele broke his leg. While Charlton was fine, completing 57% of his passes for 808 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, he wasn't DiMichele. A bigger option at 6-4 and 226 pounds, he might not be much of a runner, but he's a strong passer who'll likely be the starter going into next year.

It'll be up to three players for the No. 3 job with 6-3, 210-pound redshirt freshman Chester Stewart the likely option. The top back up at the end of last year when Adam DiMichele went down. Stewart is a tall, thin, accurate passer who's one of the team's best running quarterbacks. Juniors Colin Clancy and Andrew Case will also be in the mix. Clancy doesn't have much in the way of skills, but he knows the offense, while the 5-9, 185-pound Case, a walk-on, is a scrambler.

Watch Out For ... Charlton to see plenty of time even if DiMichele is health for the entire season. The coaching staff will want to make sure DiMichele can play and doesn't get tagged with a fluke injury and will want Charlton to be ready to hit the ground running in 2009.
Strength: Two good options. DiMichele and Charlton can each play and can each lead the team to wins. Now that they've been around for a few years, they know what they're doing.
Weakness
:
Deep passes. DiMichele and Charlton are good short to mid-range passers, but they're not going to air it out all that often. It's not part of the offense, but there just isn't a deep passing aspect to the Owl attack.
Outlook: You have to remember just how abysmal the quarterbacking was at Temple. No, Adam DiMichele and Vaughn Charlton aren't quite Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, but they're efficient, veteran passers who can keep the chains moving and can win games. DiMichele proved last year against Akron that he can rally the team late, and Charlton proved he could step in and be effective.
Rating: 5.5


Running Backs

Projected Starters: Originally considered as a top receiver prospect, sophomore Marquise Liverpool, who made eight catches for 163 yards and showed flashes of big-play potential, but moved to running back this spring and was atop the depth chart going into the off-season. With his speed and athleticism, he could be unstoppable when he gets into space. Originally a Boston College Eagle, the 22-year-old was a big get for Temple after spending time in the Seattle Mariner farm system.

Temple has ten starters returning with the one new opening at fullback after losing Josh Bundy. True freshman Mike LaBarre is expected to make an instant impact as both a blocker and a big runner. At 6-0 and 235 pounds, he already has the size and the body, and he also has a little bit of speed and quickness. He's a smart enough player to pick things up right away.

Projected Top Reserves: 5-9, 195-pound junior Jason Harper led the team with 586 yards and five touchdowns with a 114-yard day against Connecticut. The top recruit of the 2005 class after running for 2,995 yards and 35 touchdowns as a high school senior, he has been the team's best rushing threat over the last two seasons, but he hasn't been special enough to latch on to the top job.

Also in the hunt for playing time will be 5-9, 180-pound sophomore Jared Williams after sitting out last year. He's a speedster who was clocked at 10.7 in the 100 meters in high school, and now the former JUCO transfer should add some more flash. He's a tougher runner than his size might indicate.

Battling for the fullback job will be senior Marcellous Grigsby after seeing a little bit of starting time last season and rushing for 29 yards and catching nine passes for 64 yards. Not all that big at 5-11 and 225 pounds, he has more speed than power and has to break off more big runs, and prove to be a better blocker, to get more playing time.

Watch Out For ... James Nixon. Temple's longest run last year was 35 yards, and while sacks had something to do with the 2.7 yards per carry, there weren't enough big dashes. Nixon and Jared Williams, two speedsters, should change that.
Strength: Speed. All of a sudden the Owls have a slew of sprinters ready to rumble after years of struggling to get out of the gate. Even backup fullback Marcellous Grigsby can move.
Weakness
:
Touchdown production. The Owls ran for just seven scores last season with Jason Harper running it in five times and QB Adam DiMichele scoring the other two. There was only one rushing touchdown in the final four games.
Outlook: The coaching staff is doing is spending the off-season emphasizing running, running and running. The Owls have the line to be physical, and now with young, fast players like James Nixon and Jared Williams, along with veteran Jason Harper, the team's leading rusher in each of the last two seasons, there's no reason to be so lousy on the ground. Temple didn't have a 200-yard rushing game last season, partly because sacks killed the stats in good games against Kent State and Connecticut. Now the hope is for more consistency.

Rating: 4.5


Receivers

Projected Starters: Back again as the unquestioned No. 1 receiver is 6-0, 180-pound senior Bruce Francis, who led the Owls in receiving in each of the last two seasons. He caught 32 passes for 484 yards and four touchdowns in 2006, and then with the improved quarterback play caught 47 balls for 731 yards and six scores despite missing the final two games hurt. The former walk-on was one of the team's only explosive playmakers, averaging 15.6 yards per catch, and will be the focal point of the passing game from his Z position.

Starting again on the outside X position is 5-9, 170-pound junior Dy'Onne Crudup after finishing second on the team with 39 catches for 376 yards and three scores. After only making two catches as a true freshman, he came on to grab one of the starting jobs and became consistent. Now he has to come up with more big plays and more yards after the catch. An X receiver needs to average more than 9.6 yards per grab and can't have the longest play a mere 21 yards.

In the slot will be long-time contributor Travis Shelton coming off a 20-catch, 133-yard rebound season. The senior averaged a team-leading 17.2 yards per catch as a sophomore, had academic problems, and struggled to make a big impact last year. He has the potential to become a fringe All-MAC producer if he can have another strong year as a kickoff returner.

Senior Kevin Armstrong started out as a defensive end and moved to tight end before his sophomore year. It all came together last season finishing third on the team with 28 catches for 277 yards and a touchdown while also serving as a key special teamer. Now that he knows what he's doing he should be a bigger part of the offense.

Projected Top Reserves: While there are veterans able to carry the workload, the initial hope was for true freshman James Nixon to be the real deal right away. The 6-1, 180-pounder came to Temple in January and has the type of speed, athleticism and talent the team has been missing for a long time. A pure home-run hitter, he might not be build like a pounding back, but the two-time New England 100-meter champion should be a bolt of lightning once he gets into the open. The plan will be to find several ways to get him the ball, and while the running back might end up in the backfield, he'll start out at receiver behind Francis.

Sophomore Delano Green is a 5-10, 170-pound quick target who was a star quarterback in high school before switching to receiver. Even though he had plenty of opportunities, he only made three catches for 36 yards making more of an impact on punt returns averaging 10.4 yards per try on seven returns.


Sophomore Michael Campbell caught ten passes for 94 yards as a true freshman and should make a much bigger impact behind Dy'Onne Crudup at the X. A fantastic athlete, he would've had a bigger year if he didn't have a midseason ankle injury.

There will be several tight ends rotating in with 6-6, 260-pound junior Steve Maneri getting a long look. He hasn't been much of a receiver over his career, but three of his 12 catches have gone for touchdowns. He has good hands and decent size, and now he has to be more of a factor in all phases.

Combining with Maneri at tight end will be 6-4, 250-pound sophomore Matt Balasavage. After getting hurt right away, he got on the field early as a true freshman and made two catches for 42 yards with a touchdown against Navy. With good size and the athleticism to become a regular contributor, he'll be a future starter.

Watch Out For ... the backups to play a bigger role. The passing game didn't have enough pop outside of Bruce Francis, and whoever can show a home-run hitting ability will get time. That might be Marquise Liverpool and Michael Campbell.
Strength: Veterans. Francis is a sure-thing, Dy'Onne Crudup was the team's No. 2 receiver, and tight end Kevin Armstrong was third. They're all back. 
Weakness
:
Proven explosiveness outside of Shelton. No one other than Shelton did much of anything on a consistent basis to scare secondaries. Temple isn't going to air it out much but the offense will try to get the ball to the receivers on the move. The quick targets have to do more with it.
Outlook: It should all be there for a big season with experience, speed and enough talent to do a whole bunch more than last year when consistency was an issue. Bruce Francis should be an All-MAC performer while there are several other players on the verge of breaking out with a little bit of luck.

Rating: 4.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: All five starters return to an offensive line that wasn't anything great last year, but has a star to work around in senior center Alex Derenthal. The 6-4, 294-pounder has started 35 straight games and is has been a tough technician through the truly lean years up until now. He's been a good anchor with good all-around blocking ability, and now he has to do even more as a leader of the veteran front five. There's no reason he can't be an MAC all-star.

Junior left tackle Devin Tyler has bulked up a bit to 285 pounds on a 6-7 frame. Pass protection has always been an issue since getting time in his freshman season, but the former defensive end has been reliable starting all 12 games last season. Now that he knows what he's doing, he needs to be more productive.

On the other side will likely be senior Jabari Ferguson either at guard or tackle. After moving over from tight end, the 6-5, 300 pounder saw time at right guard and left tackle and will combine with Andre Douglas at right tackle on the other side of Devin Tyler. He's a decent athlete for his size, but he has to be better in pass protection.

Sophomore Chris Tremel started out his Temple career as a defensive lineman and then moved over to guard before this spring. At 6-4 and 290 pounds, he's a big, physical player who'll likely need a little while before becoming consistent, but being physical on the inside isn't a problem. He'll get the first look at right guard.

The left guard spot is settled with 6-4, 310-pound sophomore Colin Madison after a good true freshman season. A star shot putter on the Temple track team, he's a very strong, very physical player who should turn into a mauler on the inside. Even though he has the potential to be an All-MAC performer on the football field before his career is over, he likely won't ever be as good as he in on the track.   

Projected Top Reserves: Combining with Jabari Ferguson at right tackle will be veteran Andre Douglas. The 6-5, 305-pound senior came over from Rhode Island, was a top scout teamer, and then ended up starting all 12 games. He started out his season at right guard before moving to tackle, and he could likely move back to guard for long stretches early on.

6-5, 305-pound sophomore Derek Dennis got his feet wet as a true freshman starting ten games at right guard. While he struggled at times, he got better as the season went on and now looks like the star of the future on the outside. He could end up seeing time again early on the inside, but he'll end up rotating with Devin Tyler at left tackle.

Able to step in to either guard spot is 6-4, 295-pound junior Darius Morris, a strong recruit a few years ago who has a little bit of experience, starting four times last year, he's a big, athletic option behind Chris Tremel on the right side. He'll step in and get a start or three this year.

Watch Out For ... more tinkering with the combination. There might be tons of experience to play around with the established veterans in a few spots, like center Alex Derenthal and left tackle Devin Tyler, but the coaching staff has never been afraid to play around with the lineup when needed.
Strength: Veterans. This still might be a relatively young line, but it's full of experience. From the 35 straight starts from Derenthal to Tyler starting every game last year to having projected second teamers with starting experience, whatever the front five turns out to be will know what it's doing.
Weakness
:
Pass protection. With the size up front, and the coaching staff's desire to get more physical, there will be more production running the ball. Now the front five has to do better at protecting the quarterback after giving up 93 sacks in the last two season.
Outlook: New offensive line coach Andrew Dees has a veteran group to work with led by anchor Alex Derenthal at center and a slew of experienced players to build around. Now everyone has to be better. Giving the quarterbacks time will be job one, and then it'll be vital to star doing more for the running game. Devin Tyler is a rising junior tackle and the combination of Jabari Ferguson and Andre Douglas should be strong at right tackle, but the production of the offense should rest on them. If they're not better, the attack will still sputter.
Rating: 4.5