2010 Temple Preview
Temple OG Colin Madison
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Temple Owls
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This is no longer a cute story and it's no longer a fluke. Temple football is actually really good and there's a reason the expectations should be through the roof.
Head coach: Al Golden
5th year: 19-30
Off. 31, Def. 23, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best Temple Players
1. RB Bernard Pierce, Soph.
2. DE Adrian Robinson, Jr.
3. LB Elijah Joseph, Sr.
4. DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Jr.
5. FS Jaiquawn Jarrett, Sr.
6. OT Darius Morris, Sr.
7. DE Morris Blueford, Jr.
8. LB Amara Kamara, Sr.
9. OT Steve Caputo, Jr.
10. OG Colin Madison, Sr.
Sept. 3 Villanova
Sept. 9 Central Michigan
Sept. 18 Connecticut
Sept. 25 at Penn State
Oct. 2 at Army
Oct. 9 at Northern Illinois
Oct. 16 Bowling Green
Oct. 23 at Buffalo
Oct. 30 Akron
Nov. 6 at Kent St
Nov. 16 Ohio
Nov. 23 at Miami Univ.
Nov. 27 OPEN DATE
Head coach Al Golden has been building for this season. After putting a fence around the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area and getting the hometown kids to be interested in playing at home, now is when all the young players who were thrown to the wolves are veteran talents who know what they're doing and can compete at a high level. And unlike Buffalo of a few years ago, who caught lightning in a bottle with a veteran team coming up with every break in a special, title-winning season, this Owl team is rock-solid and with potential staying power.
Many coaches say they want the best players on the field at all times, but they end up deferring to veterans who might be a bit more reliable. Golden has never been shy about shaking things up, throwing true freshmen into the fire right away, and creating a healthy competition for the established stars. If you're good and you want to play, Golden will get you on the field if you've earned that spot. Over the last few years, the time logged in by the fresh-out-of-high-school talents has built up and now there's depth, talent, and crusty veterans who should be ready to overcome the mistakes that last year's team made.
No, Temple isn't exactly going to be knocking on the BCS door as a buster, but this it'll be the odds-on favorite to win the MAC title. There are no excuses this season. The defense is fast, aggressive, and loaded with options, especially on the front seven; many BCS teams would love to have the Owl running backs; the receivers of note are almost all back; the special teams, outside of the punting game, are as good as any in the country; and the offensive line is NFL-sized with good depth. But can Temple handle expectations?
This has traditionally been one of the worst programs in college football, but Golden was able to change the attitude and the culture in just a few short years. Now, anything less than a MAC title will be a failure considering the team came within a game of playing for the title last year (and lost 35-17 to Ohio).
Now, there really might be a real sense of urgency with Golden almost certainly to be gone to a bigger-name program (and will be on the short list whenever the Penn State job opens up) in the next few seasons, if not next year. If Temple can get over the hump and win the title, the rebuilding job done by Golden will be on par with any in recent college football history, and that will include what Bill Snyder did at Kansas State and what Barry Alvarez created in Wisconsin. The foundation has been set, and now it's time to have fun reaping the benefits.
What to watch for on offense: A devastating ground game. Bernard Pierce became the MAC's breakout star of 2009, but Matt Brown stepped in and ripped off a few big games showing that it's the system as well as the back. The Owl O line is huge with everyone on the two-deep at 300 pounds or more, and after cranking out 187 rushing yards per game and 29 touchdowns last year, this season should be truly special.
What to watch for on defense: A brick wall of a defensive front. The Owl defense allowed a mere nine rushing touchdowns last season and finished first in the MAC and 18th in the nation in run defense allowing 108 yards per game (and those stats factor in games against Penn State, Army, Navy, and Toledo). The linebacking corps will be fantastic, but it's the front line that will be the strength of the team with at least four potential all-stars in an outstanding rotation.
The team will be far better if … There can be some semblance of a passing game. With one of the MAC's best offensive lines and a backfield loaded with talent, it'll be easy to run the ball, run the ball, and run the ball some more. But for an offense that was 92nd in the nation in yards but 39th in scoring, creating a balance will be a must. The O doesn't have to be a high-octane passing juggernaut, but it does have to be efficient.
The schedule: It'll be challenging. Yes, the first three games are at home, but the Owls have to face Central Michigan, who'll be trying to prove there's life after Dan LeFevour, and Connecticut before going off to Penn State. The trip to Happy Valley kicks off a three-game road run that culminates with a possible MAC title game preview at Northern Illinois. Yes, that means the two games against the West will be against the two best teams in the division. Six of the last nine games are on the road and there aren't back-to-back home games after September 18th, but after the NIU game on October 9, the Owls should be good enough to run the table.
Best offensive player: Sophomore RB Bernard Pierce. Talk about bursting on to the scene, the 6-0, 218 pounder ripped off a 1,361-yard, 16 touchdown season as a true freshman. Making the stats more impressive were his lack of carries late with a shoulder injury limiting him to one carry over the final two regular season games. With good power inside, and good bounce out, he has the potential to put together a special career.
Best defensive player: Junior DE Adrian Robinson. The reining MAC Defensive Player of the Year was a terror on the outside registering 13 sacks and 46 tackles. While he's not all that big at 6-2 and 245 pounds, he's a terror off the edge and is also great at creating the big turnover with five forced fumbles. With a tremendous supporting cast, it'll be a major disappointment if he doesn't do even more.
Key player to a successful season: There are three problem areas. 1) The punting game. 2) Corner. 3) Quarterback. Temple can survive with mediocrity in the first two areas, but it can't win the MAC title unless junior Chester Stewart comes up with a strong season. He adds flash for the running game, but Temple needs a passer. Vaughn Charlton wasn't it and he moved to tight end, and it's asking too much for Chris Coyer or Mike Gerardi to step in right away and produce.
The season will be a success if … Temple wins the MAC title. It'll be a struggle to win ten regular season games with Penn State, Connecticut, and a trip to NIU to deal with, but 9-3 with a tenth win in the MAC championship and an 11th with a bowl victory would make this a truly special year. There's no reason this team should shoot for anything less.
Key game: Sept. 11 vs. Central Michigan. If the Owls are as good as advertised, they should roll through the East without much of a problem. While the game at Northern Illinois will be the toughest MAC date on the slate, starting off the conference season with a win at home against defending champion Central Michigan is a must for morale. Not only could the game be a passing of the torch, but it's also a must-win considering Connecticut and at Penn State are coming up next. If Temple wants to be the MAC champion, this will be a game it has to be good enough to win.
2009 Fun Stats:
- Rushing touchdowns: Temple 29 – Opponents 9
- Sacks: Temple 34 for 222 yards – Opponents 21 for 158 yards
- Interception return average: Temple 22.6 yards (on 16 interceptions) – Opponents 2.9 yards (on 14 interceptions)
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