Temple Owls Football 2017 Preview: Part Two

In Part 1 of our Temple Owls 2017 Football preview we covered the new Head Coach and the Offense, Today we feature Defense and Special Teams

Temple Defense:

This season defensive line looks to use depth and rotation to make up for the loss of outstanding Defensive Ends Haason Reddick and Praise Martin-Oguike

Owls Defensive line:

Leading the rush as well as stopping the run are redshirt JR Freddie Booth-Lloyd, and JR Michael Dogbe, the only starter coming back. Dogbe had five TFL last year, 5th on the team, and each player had 1.5 sacks

Backing them up and sure to see plenty of playing time are redshirt SR Greg Webb, SO Karamo Dioubate as well as redshirt FR Dan Archibong. Webb played in 13 games and had 1.5 TFL, as well as 7 total tackles. Dioubate played one less game with 5 total tackles – 4 unassisted, and 1.0 TFL. Archibong can also help out from the end of the line.

Defensive ends:

Temple has three SRs returning with experience in years if not in games played.

True SR Jacob Martin has played in 37 games as an Owl, few more impressive than his playing with a broken foot in last season’s 34-10 win over Navy in the AAC championship game. Indicative of that toughness is that he was awarded a single digit #9 by the team. The other two are redshirt SR’s Jullian Taylor and Sharif Finch. Finch has five blocked punts in his career, the NCAA active leader. Behind them are redshirt SO Dana Levine and redshirt FR Quincy Roche. They may be rotated in when a speed rush is called for from the outside. As yet another wild card for Temple W/R Keith Kirkwood has also been utilized to rush the passer during Spring games and training camp.

Defensive backs:

Returning three-fourths of the secondary, this is yet another deep area for the Owls.

Safety

The top two of those, and possibly together the top duo in the NCAA are SR Sean Chandler, and JR Delvon Randall. Chandler had 51 total tackles in 2016 – 30 unassisted – and 3.5 TFL. Randall starting all 14 games, had 65 total tackles – 43 Unassisted, 6 TFL, as well as four interceptions. Behind them are SO Benny Walls, 11 unassisted tackles, and Redshirt JR Jyquis Thomas, 7 total tackles in 2017.

 Cornerback:

 Leading the pack for the CB job are Redshirt SR Artrel Foster and transfer from North Carolina CentralMike Jones, both of whom are thought of as NFL caliber players. Foster started 12 games last season, hurt in game nine against Cincinnati and returning 3 weeks later after a bye, but still had 34 tackles – 27 unassisted. Jones was named to the All MEAC team last year with 30 tackles with two interceptions. He also could see time as a return man, averaging 22.0 yards per punt return and was one of only four returners in FCS with two punt return touchdowns. Next in line would be  redshirt JR Derrek Thomas, who added seven passes broken up to his 29 tackles last season.
Backing them up are SR Cequan Jefferson, SO Linwood Crump and redshirt SO Kareem Ali.

Special Teams:

Kickers:

The Placekicker job, after the QB, is one of the most intriguing competitions of the year.

Senior Austin Jones was rolling along last year, his 3rd as a starter, but an injury in the sixth game forced walk-on Aaron Boumerhi into the job. He wound up making 15/17 FG on the way to the second-team all-AAC. Both have played well and special teams coach Ed Foley seems to have left the decision to gameday.

The other story for ST was Punter SR Alex Starzyk, a three year starter, returning to camp after a suspension for an undisclosed offense. He said that he is ready and willing to be a starter again come 9/2.

“I’ve been getting ready this whole time. It’s not like I just started getting ready this week.”

“We are still figuring that out,” Head Coach Collins said. “He came back, and got a hold of some balls and we’re excited he is back.”

This writer has in the past said that Starzyk is good enough to play on Sundays, and I hope he can prove me right in his final season.

His competition is walk-on FR Connor Bowler out of Downingtown West.

 Return men:

SO Isaiah Wright, 25.3 yds on 11 returns in 2017, would be the obvious choice for Kick Returner. The punting position is not so clear. Chandler and Jones are both worthy candidates.  Chandler was limited in 2016 with an injury for four games, but in 2015 he had 12.1 yds on 17 returns. Jones #’s I have mentioned above in the CB section.

Future Scheduling:

At Collins urging, Temple is trying to schedule more games in Florida and Georgia, as he knows those areas well. To that end they are negotiating a home-and-home series with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. According to sources Temple would host Georgia Tech first. This on the heels of a H&H agreement with Miami Hurricanes. Temple recently agreed to a home-and-home series with Miami. The Owls first will visit the Hurricanes in 2020 and reverse that in 2023.

Below are some confirmed non-conference match-ups thru 2028

2018
09/01 – Villanova
09/08 – Buffalo
09/15 – at Maryland
09/29 – at Boston College
2019
08/31 – Bucknell
09/14 – Maryland
09/21 – at Buffalo
10/26 – Army
2020
09/05 – at Miami (FL)
09/12 – Idaho
09/19 – Rutgers
2021
09/04 – at Rutgers
09/18 – Boston College
2022
09/03 – at Duke
09/17 – Rutgers
2023
09/09 – at Rutgers
09/23 – Miami (FL)
2024
08/31 – at Oklahoma
2025
09/13 – Oklahoma
2026
TBA
2027
TBA
2028
09/02 – at Oklahoma
09/16 – Duke

Fearless Forecast:

In a July media poll Temple was picked to finish 3rd in the AAC East. That sounds just about right to me. Even with all the depth I have detailed in my previews, they still have a new head coach and that all important new QB – or is that QB’s for me to predict much better for Owls. They most likely won’t start 0-2, unless they get so demoralized by a loss to Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the opener, that they overlook the Villanova Wildcats the next week.  I will be a bit on the optimistic side though and say 7-5, and some minor bowl.

 

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