2010 Temple Preview – Offense
Temple RB Bernard Pierce
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Temple Owl Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Offensive coordinator Matt Rhule has some great veteran pieces to work with. The idea will be for last year's offense, ranked 92nd in the nation, to be balanced, but it's going to stick with its strength, the ground attack, when needed. The running game will be among the best in the MAC with Bernard Pierce working behind a big, veteran offensive line that was arguably the most productive in the league last season. The receivers have upside with the top three receivers returning to go along with star freshman prospect Deon Miller. So what's missing? The quarterback. Chester Stewart is a veteran, but he's not efficient and he needs to prove he can produce with such a strong supporting cast.
Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Bernard Pierce
Passing: Vaughn Charlton
107-213, 1,390 yds,10 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Bernard Pierce
236 carries, 1,361 yds, 16 TD
Receiving: Joe Jones
28 catches, 387 yds, 1 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior QB Chester Stewart
Unsung star on the rise: Freshman WR Deon Miller
Best pro prospect: Senior OT Darius Morris
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Pierce, 2) Morris, 3) OT Steve Caputo
Strength of the offense: Running Game, Offensive Line
Weakness of the offense: Passing Game, Quarterback
Projected Starter: Junior Chester Stewart stepped in halfway through last season and got three starts. While he's not a passer in any way, completing 40% of his throws for 514 yards and three touchdowns and three interceptions, he's a dangerous runner. At 6-3 and 214 pounds he has good size and as much experience as any backup in the MAC, and now he'll get his chance to become the leader of the offense.
Projected Top Reserves 6-3, 210-pound redshirt freshman Chris Coyer is a good athlete and was a nice pickup for the program. He threw 32 touchdown passes in his senior year of high school and ran for 1,287 yards, and if the team needs a spark, he'll get his shot. He'll have to fight for the No. 2 job, but he's just talented enough to potentially step in at some point.
Junior Mike Gerardi will move into a key backup role getting a chance at the No. 2 job. The 6-2, 205-pounder saw a little time in one game last year and was a backup throughout the season. He has nice touch and a good enough arm to get by.
Watch Out For … Stewart, His emergence as a more efficient and effective passer, at least in practices, allowed Vaughn Charlton to move to tight end without much too much of a problem. He'll never be a top bomber, but he should be better.
Strength: Experience. Stewart might struggle too much with his consistency, but he has logged in enough game action to step in when needed. If needed, Charlton, a decent veteran, can step back into the role without a hiccup.
Weakness: Throwing the football. Temple ran so well that the passing attack wasn't always needed, but it would be nice to be better than 111th in the nation in passing and 106th in pass efficiency.
Outlook: There's a chance, and a big hope, that Stewart goes from being along for the ride to a real, live quarterback who can win games. He's experienced and he should have time to work and help around him, but he needs to be more consistent and more efficient. Temple won't win because of the quarterbacks, but it can't lose because of them, either.
Unit Rating: 4
Projected Starters: All Bernard Pierce did as a true freshman was rip apart the MAC and carry the offense to a huge season rushing for 1,361 yards and 16 touchdowns with a 212-yard, three-touchdown day against Toledo and 267 yards and two scores against Navy. However, he broke down with shoulder injury after carrying too much of the workload, and he missed the key game of the year, the regular-season finale against Ohio, and was limited against UCLA. At 6-0 and 218 pounds, the sophomore is big, runs with power and quickness, and has the potential to be used more as a receiver after catching just eight passes for 39 yards.
Projected Top Reserves Sophomore Ahkeem Smith saw a little bit of time two years ago rushing for 26 yards, but he sat on the bench last season with the emergence of Pierce and was redshirted. At 6-0 and 215 pounds he provides a little bit of pop and he could be a force around the goal line; he scored 50 touchdowns in his last two years of high school. While he's not Pierce, he has the ability to run well with a little production from the line.
At only 5-5 and 167 pounds, sophomore Matt Brown is small, but lightning quick. He stepped in when Pierce went down and cranked out 156 yards and two touchdowns against Kent State and 172 yards and a score against Ohio on 25 carries, showing he can handle a big workload. He finished with 529 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 5.9 yards per carry, and caught five passes for 18 yards with almost all the production coming in the second half of the season. Used as a key kickoff returner over the second half of the season, he averaged 24.1 yards per try but will mostly be a part of the running back rotation and at receiver; he won't see too much time on special teams.
Watch Out For … Smith and Brown. Pierce is the signature star and will be the main man again, but after breaking down last year he needs more help. As Brown proved late in the year, Pierce isn't the only one who can produce.
Strength: Quickness and production. The Temple running backs are so strong that Kee-ayre Griffin, who was considered the potential star of the show going into last year, was moved to corner. Pierce and Brown are proven, and Smith is considered a great prospect who'll shine when given the chance.
Weakness: No help from the passing game. The Temple air attack is so mediocre that the workload of the offense will fall on the runners. Everyone knows what's coming, and while that doesn't mean it'll be stopped, defenses will be jacked up to slow down the Owl ground game this year.
Outlook: From the start of the Al Golden era the ground game was a major point of emphasis. It didn't work, and then all of a sudden … bam. Enter Pierce, a good year from the line, and one of the most productive ground games in college football. Pierce and Brown are excellent, while Smith is expected to be a great in the rotation.
Unit Rating: 8
Projected Starters: In one of the most important offensive moves of last year, junior Joe Jones made the switch from running back to wide receiver in the middle of the year and he ended up leading the team. The 5-11, 195-pounder was second on the team in rushing in 2008 with 275 yards and a score, but he was more needed for the passing game and caught 28 passes for 387 yards and a touchdown. He's a quick target who didn't explode, his best day was a four-catch, 75-yard game against Penn State, but he was consistent.
6-2, 202-pound Michael Campbell led the team with 419 yards on 27 catches with three touchdowns. The junior started off as a true freshman and started in four games, but he was limited in 2008 making just one catch. He has had problems staying healthy throughout his career, but he's a good deep threat and could blossom if he gets better quarterback play. Even when he's not making catches, he's a strong, willing blocker who'll do what he must to help the team.
Mostly a punt returner early on in his career, Delano Green has grown into a little more of a receiver catching eight passes for 129 yards last season. He's still at his best returning punts, averaging 11.6 yards per try with two touchdowns, but he the 5-11, 170-pound junior can fly and should do more in the slot.
Just when it seemed time for Vaughn Charlton to start producing more through the air, the 6-4, 230-pound senior was moved to tight end. Part of the mix for three years, with a year off in 2008, he was supposed to show he could throw the forward pass after completing 50% of his throws for 1,390 yards and ten touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He's a big, strong passer who put up decent yards over the first half of last year and was solid in the EagleBank Bowl throwing for 159 yards and two scores, but now he'll be the team's starting tight end with good hands and great route running ability.
Projected Top Reserves Being asked to see time right away is true freshman Deon Miller , who's expected to grow into a No. 1 target sooner than later. He's the most talented receiver on the team with 6-5, 200-pound size and track speed and leaping ability. He was a tremendous get for the program and the coaching staff isn't going to keep him under wraps.
Junior tight end Matt Balasavage is a good blocker with decent experience. He started in five games, but he only caught one pass for one yard. The 6-4, 256 pounder has good athleticism and has the skills to end up finding a role in the passing game. However, he's used more for the ground game and he needs the coaching staff to carve out a role for him.
Evan Rodriguez transferred from West Virginia to Temple and ended up starting seven games at tight end and finished third on the team with 13 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns. At 6-3 and 245 pounds he isn't huge, but he moves well and is athletic enough to be a bigger part of the passing game. He'll leave the blocking for Matt Balasavage, but he could be the team's key down target.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Alderman is a small, quick target who should fit perfectly in the slot. He's only 5-9 and 168 pounds, but he has great hands and moves well with the potential to shine with a little bit of work.
Watch Out For … Miller. The Owl receiving corps has experience and good talent, but it didn't have a player with the upside of Miller. The Temple receivers are along for the ride, but Miller could be the type of player the offense works around.
Strength: Experience among the starters. The top three receivers return and Delano Green has the potential to grow into a major playmaker with more work thrown his way.
Weakness: The quarterbacks and veteran depth. There's no one among the backup wide receivers who have caught a pass, but the bigger problem is the mediocre quarterback play that isn't going to produce much more than the 1,904 yards of last year.
Outlook: The receivers should be better than the passing game. The starters are solid, even if they're not going to have the numbers, and it'll be their role to produce when they get the chance. The stats might not be there, but the group should be a plus.
Unit Rating: 5
Projected Starters: The team needed a new, productive leader on the line and it found one in right tackle Darius Morris . The 6-4, 315-pound senior earned first-team All-MAC honors as he lived up to his big reputation after being one of the team's top recruits. Versatile enough to play anywhere on the line, including center, he has found a home on the right side and will be the one team works behind on key running plays.
Colin Madison started every game last year on his way to first-team All-MAC honors, but a message is being sent that he could get even better. The 6-4, 320-pound senior was dominant run blocker who was very strong and very physical in the running game, but he was initially listed as a backup at right guard on the depth chart. Mostly know for being a track star throwing the shot put for the Owls, he has the potential to be special with a little more consistency and an even meaner streak.
Devin Tyler was a big loss after starting every game last year at left tackle and earning second-team All-MAC honors. Junior Pat Boyle got one start last season, but he was supposed to play a bigger role at tackle after getting four starts as a true freshman. The 6-5, 316-pounder has to prove he can be a steady pass protector, but he's a good athlete for his size and has excellent upside.
For the moment, junior Jeremy Schonbrunner will get the chance to show that he can handle the work at center, but he'll likely end up sharing time, if not playing behind, last year's starter, John Palumbo. Schonbrunner saw a little time in nine games, but the walk-on will be thrown into the fire in the middle where he has 6-3, 300-pound size and excellent strength.
6-4, 324-pound junior Wayne Tribue started five games at left guard and was a key player in the rotation, but he was pushed out of the job over the second half of the season and spent most of his time as a backup. Extremely smart and stunningly athletic for his size, he can be a road grader for the ground game and has enough experience to grow into one of the team's key blockers. He's a pounder.
Projected Top Reserves Junior Steve Caputo ended up starting at left guard over the second half of last year and earned the team's 2009 Offensive MVP award. The 6-5, 319-pounder is one of the team's most versatile players able to work at tackle or guard, and while he could end up moving back to guard, he'll most likely spend his year rotating at left tackle. He's just now coming back into 100% form after missing most of 2008 with a knee injury.
Somewhere in the mix will be John Palumbo , a 6-5, 305-pound junior who started most of last year at center but could see time at guard. He's a good athlete for his size and was solid in the middle of the line, but he's being challenged by Jeremy Schonbrunner to get back his job in the middle. Expect him to take it back at some point in what should b ea great competition.
it'll be up to 6-2, 306-pound Jeff Whittingham will make a big push to take over at right guard, and he should be a good one with a little bit of work. He saw a little bit of action last year and has the toughness and strength to be a pounder of a run blocker. He'll benefit greatly by being next to Darius Morris.
Watch Out For … A major fight for spots. The coaching staff is ramping up the intensity level by not promising jobs to anyone. Putting starters like Madison and Palumbo second team on the depth chart shows just how much the coaches want the line to take another step.
Strength: Size, experience, and production. This was the MAC's second best offensive line last season (behind NIU's), and now most of the key parts are back. Everyone is over 300 pounds, everyone can hit, and there's enough talent and experience to create a good rotation.
Weakness: Rushing production against the better teams. The Owls ripped up the MAC, but they went nowhere on the ground against Penn State and UCLA. This is a big line, but it's not going to do too much on the move.
Outlook: With so many great starters returning from a line that was a major strength last season, the Owls should have one of the best front fives in the MAC. It'll come up and hit most teams in the mouth with a fantastic running game and it should have a good enough rotation to overcome any injuries or inconsistencies.
Unit Rating: 6.5
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