#85 Temple Football 2015 Preview

Temple Owls

Overall Rank: #85
#6 American

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Temple crawled to a solid 6-6 season in 2014. They started 4-1, but lost five of their next six games. They did manage to reach six wins with a 10-3 win over Tulane to close the regular season, but that wasn’t enough to get the call for their first bowl game since 2011. Coach Matt Rhule won just two games in his first season with the Owls and six in year two, so the expectations are rightfully high in year three.

2014 Record: 6-6, 4-4
2014 Bowl: None
Coach: Matt Rhule (8-16 at Temple, 8-16 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Marcus Satterfield
Defensive Coordinator: Phil Snow

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jahad Thomas, RB, 384 yards
Passing: P.J. Walker, QB, 2,317 yards
Receiving: Jahad Thomas, RB, 364 yards
Tackles: Tyler Matakevich, LB, 117
Sacks: Praise Martin-Oguike, DE, 7.5
Interceptions: Tavon Young, CB, 4

Other Key Returnees: WR John Christopher, OL Kyle Friend, P Alex Starzyk, LB Nate Smith, CB Sean Chandler, DT Matt Ioannidis, DE Sharif Finch

Key Losses: RB Kenneth Harper, WR Jalen Fitzpatrick

Making expectations rise even higher is the fact that a defense that ranked fourth in the nation allowing just 17.5 points per game returns ten starters. The front four is anchored by tackle Matt Ioannidis. End Praise Martin-Oguike tallied a team high 7.5 sacks last season and there is enough quality depth to keep everybody fresh on the line. Tyler Matakevich is the star of the defense. The linebacker recorded 117 tackles in 2014 and has done just about the same the previous two years as well. His senior season promises to be special. The secondary allowed a mere 186.9 passing yards per game in 2014 and that is especially impressive considering the Temple defense was on the field quite a bit. Cornerback Tavon Young picked off four passes and was one reason why Temple forced 30 turnovers in 2014, good enough for fifth in the nation in turnovers per game.

If the offense could chew up some more clock, the Temple defense would have been even more impressive last year. The hope is the offense can carry their weight this time around. Quarterback P.J. Walker is a dynamic playmaker. He threw for 2,317 yards and 13 scores and rushed for 324 yards and three more touchdowns. He certainly was not consistent though and there was a stretch of six games in the middle of the season where he completed over 50 percent of his passes just once. In the last seven games of the season, Walker threw just four touchdowns and was intercepted 11 times. For an offense that basically just needs to avoid mistakes, that was way too many errors. With four offensive linemen returning, Coach Rhule hopes that the ground game can help carry the load. Jahad Thomas is back after rushing for a team high 384 yards. Zaire Williams also returns after missing last season with an injury. He showed plenty of promise as a freshman back in 2013.

The Bottom Line:
The schedule works out pretty well for Temple. They avoid Navy, Houston and Tulsa from the new AAC West division. Playing Cincinnati on the road on September 12th may get Temple off to a tough start in the AAC East, but with all of the experience on defense, this is a Temple team that can beat Cincinnati early in the season and ride that momentum to the top of the AAC East standings.

Projected Bowl: Boca Raton Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 107.8 (115th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 200.7 (86, 8)
Total Offense: 308.4 (117, 8)
Scoring Offense: 23.1 (97, 7)
Rushing Defense: 160.2 (52, 6)
Pass Defense: 186.9 (13, 1)
Total Defense: 347.1 (24, 3)
Scoring Defense: 17.5 (4, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.25 (45, 3)
Sacks: 2.25 (52, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.75 (39, 3)


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