2012 Record: 4-7 (2-5 in Big East)
Head Coach: Matt Rhule (First Time Head Coach)
Last Bowl Game: 2011 New Mexico Bowl: defeated Wyoming 37-15
Stadium: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa. (capacity: 68,532)
Notable alumni: Joe Klecko, Bernard Pierce, Raheem Brock
Big Games: 8/31 at Notre Dame, 10/5 vs. Louisville, 11/2 at Rutgers
Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking: 83 out of 124 teams
Pro: Red Zone success – 90.32 percent
Con: Only 1329 total passing yards; 10 TD passes (11-game schedule)
Returning Starters – 8 offense, 7 defense, 0 special teams
Key returning players on offense include H-back Chris Coyer, QB Clinton “Juice” Granger; OLs Cody Booth, Sean Boyle, Evan Regas, Scott Roorda, Jeff Whittingham, Kyle Friend and Zach Hooks; TE Alex Jackson; RBs Jamie Gilmore, Kenny Harper and Kevin Newsome; and WRs Deon Miller, Ryan Alderman, and Jalen Fitzpatrick.
Defense: DLs Sean Daniels, Jaimen Newman, Levi Brown and Kamal Johnson; LBs Tyler Matakevich, Nate D. Smith and Blaze Caponegro; CBs Zamel Johnson and Anthony Robey; and Ss Chris Hutton and Abdul Smith.
CFBZ: Running backs Montel Harris and Matt Brown graduated and head coach Steve Addazio left for the same role at Boston College. Matt Rhule, a former offense coordinator and coach at Temple under Al Golden has returned after a short stint in the NFL to take the helm, introducing a pro-style offense. He has moved QBs Chris Coyer and Kevin Newsome to H-back and tailback respectively. Who will likely be the Owls’ QB this fall and what’s the probability of success with the passing attack?
Pompey: Redshirt junior Connor Reilly will likely be the starting quarterback unless he’s beaten out by incoming freshman P.J. Walker. The passing game can only get better than last season when it was among the worst in the nation. Reilly has a strong arm and is extremely accurate. However, the passing attack will go as far as H-back Coyer, WR Deon Miller and slot back Jalen Fitzpatrick take it. All three players MUST step up for the Owls to be successful.
CFBZ: Special teams will look much different in 2013. Arguably one of the team’s biggest contributors last season was punter/kicker Brandon McManus who is trying to earn a roster spot with the Indianapolis Colts. Matt Brown, a fantastic return man, has departed and been signed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. How badly and for how long will the Owls feel these roster losses?
Pompey: I think Temple will miss Matt Brown more than Brandon McManus in the early going. But I think it will find valuable replacements for both of them towards the end of the season.
Here’s why: The Owls have a U.S. Army All American placekicker coming in named Jim Cooper. They also have a standout punter in Albany transfer Paul Layton.
Meanwhile, I believe Fitzpatrick could become the special teams playmaker that Brown was over time.
CFBZ: Temple has been a moving target for prospective recruits the last several years with coaching changes and realignment. How does this year’s class measure up and what are the prospects for the future with Rhule at the helm in the new AAC?
Pompey: With all things considered, I would say that Owls had a solid recruiting class that was headlined by tailback Zaire Williams, linebacker Buddy Brown and QB P.J. Walker.
So far, Temple is well ahead of last season’s recruiting class in regards to number of commitments and the talent-level of the recruits. I think that has a lot to do with Rhule and assistants Terry Smith and Fran Brown. So even though the AAC doesn’t have the name brand of the Big East, recruits are wowed by Temple’s improved facilities and coaching staff.
Temple is just one season removed from membership in the MAC. Though Al Golden and Steve Addazio brought some success to the program in recent years, it's recruiting is behind some of the other teams in the new AAC. With Pitt and Penn State as in-state competitors for talent, Matt Rhule will need to keep the program climbing. As a rule, when there’s a new coaching staff I always expect one or two more losses than might otherwise be predicted.
One of his challenges this year will be retooling his offense from Addazio’s spread scheme to a pro-style. He hired Marcus Satterfield to lead the change. Satterfield has seven years of FCS experience as a coordinator at Tennessee-Chattanooga and Tennessee-Martin. TE Cody Booth could be a lynch pin to the success of the new scheme.
On the other side of the ball, Phil Snow brings a 34-year college and NFL coaching resume to Temple as the new defensive coordinator. He’ll have the advantage 2012 Freshman All-American and Big East Rookie of the Year Tyler Matakevich anchoring his linebacker corps.
The Owls’ will log a lot of air miles this season. Their schedule, arguably among the toughest in the 2013 AAC, includes non-conference games at Note Dame and Idaho as well as Fordham (FCS) and Army. The conference schedule has them facing all but USF, including trips to Cincinnati, SMU and Rutgers, the latter two back-to-back. Their bye weeks are nicely spaced but the trip to Idaho comes a week before they host conference favorite Louisville.
Look for Temple to struggle in 2013, but perhaps set a foundation for more competitive play in 2014 and beyond. Predicted record: 4-8.
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews: