2009 CFN Temple Preview
Temple WR Jason Harper
Temple WR Jason Harper
Posted Jul 29, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Temple Owls

Temple Owls

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

- 2009 Temple Preview | 2009 Temple Offense
- 2009 Temple Defense |
2009 Temple Depth Chart
- 2008 Temple Preview | 2007 Temple Preview | 2006 Temple Preview

Head coach: Al Golden
4th year: 10-26
Returning Lettermen:
Off 24, Def 25, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 16
Ten Best Owl Players
1. NT Andre Neblett, Sr.
2. LB Alex Joseph, Sr.
3. FS Jaiquawn Jarrett, Jr.
4. DE Junior Galette, Sr.
5. WR Jason Harper, Sr.
6. SS Dominique Harris, Sr.
7. LB John Haley, Sr.
8. LB Amara Kamara, Jr.
9. QB Vaughn Charlton, Jr.
10. RB Kee-ayre Griffin, Soph.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2009 Results: 0-0

9/3 Villanova
9/19 at Penn State
9/26 Buffalo
10/3 at Eastern Michigan
10/10 Ball State
10/17 Army
10/24 at Toledo
10/31 at Navy
11/5 Miami Univ.
11/13 at Akron
11/21 Kent State
11/27 at Ohio

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2008 Results: 5-7

8/29 at Army W 35-7
9/6 Connecticut L 12-9 OT
9/13 at Buffalo L 30-28
9/20 at Penn State L 45-3
9/27 Western Mich L 7-3
10/4 at Miami Univ. W 28-10
10/11 at Central Mich L 24-14
10/21 Ohio W 14-10
11/1 at Navy L 33-27 OT
11/12 at Kent State L 41-38
11/22 Eastern Mich W 35-32
11/29 Akron W 27-6

The Owls are improving, but they’re taking baby steps.

After going 5-7 last year with two overtime losses and a Hail Mary loss to Buffalo, Temple showed just how far it has come since being the worst program in America not all that long ago. Head coach Al Golden once again has a veteran team returning with 51 returning lettermen and 19 starters, but now there has to be more production to finally got to a bowl game for the first time in 30 years.
Only two of the five wins were by less than a touchdown, while five of the losses were by a touchdown or less. The Owls should’ve beaten Kent State late in the year. They had both Navy and Connecticut in trouble and couldn’t get by in overtime losses. Now, with all the returning experience, there should be more close wins and a possible run to the MAC title game.

But this is Temple, and even with great recruiting classes, at least by MAC standards, and a ton of experience for the second year in a row, the program has to get past being Temple. It’s easy to forget just how bad the program was not all that long ago winning four games from 2003 to 2006 including an 0-11 2005 campaign that might have been the worst of all-time. Golden has been fighting the team’s past, and now he might finally have the team to do it.

The defense should get back to its 2007 form, when it was among the best in the MAC, with a great line, an excellent pair of safeties, and a star in MLB Alex Joseph. The key will be the play of an offense that wasn’t bad in the clutch, even with so many close losses, and has to find the right starters in the right spots. There are several backs looking for time, three quarterback options, and an offensive line that has plenty of veterans who can move around to create the right combination. Even with so many question marks, this could still be the best team in the East.

Buffalo beat Temple to the punch as the best rags-to-riches story in the last several years, but the Owls could have more staying power. The recruiting classes have been better, Golden might stay in place a little bit longer than Turner Gill will at UB, and playing in Philadelphia is a plus. The program has done enough building. Now is the time to finally produce. Yes, there are expectations, and they’re warranted.

What to watch for on offense: Plenty of shifting across the offensive line. There’s loads of experience up front, but there’s little in proven production after finishing last in the MAC in sacks allowed and led the way for the league’s worst running game. The one sure thing, center Alex Derenthal, is gone. Expect it to take at least half the season before the right combination is found.

What to watch for on defense: More of a pass rush. The Owls weren’t bad at getting into the backfield last year, but Junior Galette, the team’s leading sacker, isn’t a sure thing after missing the final few games of last season. With good size and excellent quickness across the front four, there must be more than 18 sacks. Brian Sanford, Adrian Robinson, and LB John Haley should be regulars to get to the quarterback.

The team will be far better if … it can score. This has been a problem over the last few years. It’s amazing the team was able to win five games despite finishing dead last in the MAC in total offense and rushing offense, but it made the most of the chances it received. The Owls scored 14 points or fewer in five games, and while things picked up late, they have to start doing more.

The Schedule: It’s not bad. Forget about the road trip to Penn State in non-conference play, but there are only three other games against teams that went to bowls last year and the two battles in the MAC are at home against Buffalo and Ball State. The other is on the road at Navy. There’s a rough stretch of three road trips in four weeks over the second half of the season that closes out with four away games in the final six. However, there isn’t a bigger break for an East team than missing Central Michigan, Western Michigan, and Northern Illinois from the West.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Jason Harper. He goes from being a deadly No. 2 receiver to the No. 1 man with Bruce Francis gone. Harper averaged 17.3 yards per catch last season with three touchdowns on 33 grabs. With excellent jets, he has to be the home run hitter as well as a steady, reliable target.

Best Defensive Player: Senior NT Andre Neblett. He didn’t have the huge season he was supposed to after a breakout sophomore campaign, but he was still plenty good playing next to Terrance Knighton. Now Neblett will be the main man on the inside and he has to gum of the works and play like the all-star he has the potential to become.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Vaughn Charlton. He was in the starting mix last off-season but ended up redshirting so he could have two years left to play. The starting job isn’t a lock with Chester Stewart and Chris Coyer in the mix, but he needs to use his veteran leadership to get last year’s inconsistent offense going.

The season will be a success if ... Temple gets to a bowl game. With so much returning experience and so light a schedule, this has to be the year the program finally reaches its promise under Golden and gets to a bowl game for the first time since 1979. Winning the East isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but there might be too many problems to attain that goal.

Key game: Sept. 26 vs. Buffalo. While there are other big games on the schedule, not will mean more than the MAC opener against the defending champion. It took a miraculous Hail Mary for the Bulls to beat Temple last year, in a game that changed around the season for each team, but if the Owls can win this season they’ll be in the East driver’s seat early on.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Temple allowed 31 points in the first quarter all season long
- Penalties: Temple 81 for 664 yards – Opponents 59 for 598
- Fourth down conversion percentage: Opponents 14-of-26 (54%) – Temple 3-of-13 (23%)

- 2009 Temple Preview | 2009 Temple Offense
- 2009 Temple Defense |
2009 Temple Depth Chart
- 2008 Temple Preview | 2007 Temple Preview | 2006 Temple Preview