2011 Record: (9-4, 5-3 in MAC)
Head Coach: Steve Addazio (second year head coach, 9-4 at Temple)
Last Bowl Game: 2011 New Mexico Bowl: beat Wyoming 37-15
Big Name Opponent: 9/22 at Penn State
Must Win: 8/31 vs Villanova
Swing Games: 9/8 vs Maryland, 10/13 at UConn, 10/27 at Pitt, 11/17 at Army, 11/23 vs Syracuse
Stat to Cheer: only lost 12 turnovers in 2012 (1st in MAC, 3rd in Nation)
Stat to Fear: Temple has only been to four bowl games in their history
Phil Steele’s Returning Starters: (Offense: 3; Defense: 5; Specialists: 2)
Key Defensive Returnees: S Justin Gildea (51 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 INT), LB Akeem Smith (43 tackles, 2.5 sacks), CB Maurice Jones (43 tackles)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB Chris Coyer (6 TD, 0 INT), RB Matt Brown (914 yds, 6 TD), OT Martin Wallace
CFBZ: In his first season as Head Coach, Steve Adazzio maintained the win levels of the previous two years. What is your take on Adazzio’s first season?
Temple Football Forever: Addazio proved himself to be a better game-day coach than (Al) Golden ever was. He’s got a great DC in Chuck Heater, whose scoring defense was third in the nation (only behind LSU and Alabama). Even without five starters and Temple in a BCS conference, I’m willing to bet the Owls finish in the top 10 in scoring defense. They have 11 players returning who started games in the past two seasons on defense, plus three players (two named Nate Smith) who are newcomers and should be stars right away.
CFBZ: Temple moves up to the Big East this year after placing second in the MAC East. What do they need to do better in order to compete in their new conference?
Temple Football Forever: QB Chris Coyer is 4-0 as a starter. Don’t know why Daz waited so long to go to him, but the New Mexico Bowl MVP is the real deal. With Heater’s defense and a Coyer-led offense, they just need to maintain the momentum.
CFBZ: How will Temple replace Bernard Pierce?
Temple Football Forever: With one of the greatest running backs in the history of the ACC, Boston College’s Montel Harris. I don’t think even the great Pierce would have had an ACC career equal to Harris’.
CFBZ: What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2012 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
Temple Football Forever: 8-3 would be successful, but I’m greedy. I think Temple will surprise everyone and go at least 8-3 and one of the eight could be a win in Happy Valley. I think the Owls will probably lose to Cincy. I don’t see too many other “probable” losses on the schedule. If, however, Coyer and NFL kicker Brandon McManus go down, all bets are off. Both stayed healthy last year.
I like Mike’s enthusiasm and optimism. Temple football has a lot of good things going for it. They have a stingy defense and they only gave up more than thirty points twice last year (Ohio and Toledo). They don’t face any offensive juggernauts this year (the best scoring offense they will face is Cincinnati and they ranked 26th in the Nation) but it is interesting to note that the highest ranked offense (in terms of scoring offense) that they beat last year was Wyoming (ranked 67th in the Nation). All the teams they played above that threshold (Bowling Green #63, Ohio #41 and Toledo #8) were teams that beat Temple. Statistics don’t always tell the truth but I thought those numbers were worth bringing up. In the Big East, the toughest offenses are the aforementioned Cincinnati, USF (#48) and Rutgers (#65). So it’s not like they are jumping in the deep end with their competition in the Big East but Big East teams are more well rounded than most MAC teams and they are also deeper.
If Montel Harris is added to the roster (at the time of press this has not been confirmed by Temple) then it is a huge get, but how huge is it? With Montel Harris in 2010, BC only averaged 0.3 more points per game than the 2011 team. Of course, they were 7-6 with him in 2010 and 4-8 in 2011 without him. Montel Harris would be a big get and it would add depth and give Temple dual threats at RB along with Matt Brown.
The key to Temple’s season is QB Chris Coyer. Coyer really started to get reps in the Ohio game in early November but he still doesn’t have that much game experience and the toughest teams he’s faced (Ohio and Wyoming) aren’t as good as the Big East foes he will face this year. Was what we saw a sign of things to come? It will be interesting to watch.
I think Temple has the tools to be competitive in the Big East this year, I just don’t know if it’s going to show in terms of their overall record.
2012 Prediction: 5-6
Previous 2012 Previews: