2016 Football Recap- Last year, Temple had one of their best seasons in school history tying a school record for wins going 10-4 (7-1 in the AAC). They went on to win the American Athletic Conference Championship game against Navy 34-10. The following week, the Owls found themselves ranked #23 by the AP and #24 by the Coaches Poll. It was the only time they were ranked during the 2016 season.
The Owls were led by their defense last season finishing third in the entire country in total defense only allowing 282.5 total yards a game, and only 152.1 yards through the air (third in the nation). On defense, the Owls were led by former walk-on Hassan Reddick who had 58 tackles (26 TFL), 10.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. That earned him first team All Conference honors, and he went on to be the #13 pick in the NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals.
Reddick was not the only player from TU to hear his name called on draft day, All Conference tackle Dion Dawkins was drafted with the 63rd overall pick in the second round by the Bills, and the Colts selected CB Nate Hairston in the 5th round. Temple also had six players picked up throughout the league as undrafted free agents.
Prior to Temple’s bowl game, head coach Matt Rhule accepted the head coaching position at the University of Baylor, forcing him to resign from Temple. Rhule was a major reason for the recent success at Temple over the past few seasons going 28-23 as head coach, and finishing the last two with 10 wins. With players being drafted in top rounds, being ranked throughout the season, head coaches leaving for bigger schools, one thing for sure, the culture has changed at Temple. But what should we expect from the Owls in the post Rhule era?
The Geoff Collins Era- Shortly after Rhule left for the BIG12, the Owls went to another power five conference to find their head coach. Collins has spent the past six seasons as a defensive coordinator in the SEC, 2011-2014 at Mississippi State, and the past two seasons at Florida.
He put his name into some head coaching conversations after leading the Gators to a 11th ranked scoring defense in 2015, and followed that by finishing sixth in 2016. Collins will have huge expectations for himself as the Temple program has gone to new heights under Rhule, and it is up to Collins to keep this Owls team on the map, and in the national conversation.
Coming into 2017- The Owls lost a lot of talent last season and go for it with only four returning starters on defense as they lost most of their front seven. The Owls will rely mostly on their veteran secondary crew, led by redshirt seniors Artel Foster and Mike Jones. Temple lost a lot of their pass rush from last season that was dominant, but this season they will rely on their secondary more as that is by far their strongest position coming into 2017.
But the biggest question on offense is, who will throw the ball week one vs. Notre Dame? There was a four player battle at the start of the year with RS Jr. Frank Nutile, RS So. Logan Marchi, and RS Fr. Hunter Russo, all taking first teams reps. Head coach Collins has not named a starter yet, but the favorite after camp has been the junior Nutile. He has a solid grasp of the system, good size at 6-4 219, but his accuracy is the only thing holding him back. Currently ranked number one on Temple’s depth chart, is Logan Marchi, a dual threat option whose leadership has had coaches raving, and could earn him the nod week one.
The Owls might not reach 10 wins for the third consecutive season after losing 12 starters, and their head coach, but this is still a very competitive team I see winning around seven to eight games. They should be right in the middle of the conference USA Championship race when it counts most.
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