#80 Temple Football 2017 Preview

Temple Owls
Overall Rank: #80
#7 American
After some huge seasons, Temple is now at a crossroads. Coach Matt Rhule left the program to take the Baylor job after five years with the Owls, the last two of which ended in ten win seasons. Considering Temple won just two games in 2013 when Coach Rhule arrived, those are big shoes to fill. Geoff Collins will attempt to do just that. He most recently was the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State and Florida.
2016 Record: 10-4, 7-1
2016 Bowl: Military Bowl vs. Wake Forest (L 26-34)
Coach: Geoff Collins (0-0 at Temple, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dave Patenaude
Defensive Coordinator: Traver Johnson
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ryquell Armstead, RB, 919 yards
Passing: Logan Marchi, QB, 29 yards
Receiving: Ventell Bryant, WR, 895 yards
Tackles: Delvon Randall, DB, 65
Sacks: Jacob Martin, DL, 2.5
Interceptions: Delvon Randall, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: WR Keith Kirkwood, WR Adonis Jennings, DB Sean Chandler, DL Michael Dogbe, K Aaron Boumerhi
Key Losses: RB Jahad Thomas, QB Phillip Walker, LB Avery Williams, DL Reddick Haason, DL Praise Martin-Oguike, DL Averee Robinson, LB Stephaun Marshall
Temple will be bringing in a new offensive system and a new quarterback. The battle for the starting job begins with Logan Marchi, the backup to Phillip Walker last season. Despite being the backup, Marchi threw just six passes in 2016. He will compete with junior Frank Nutile, who had two pass attempts last season, and freshmen Anthony Russo and Todd Centeio. With wide receivers Ventell Bryant, Keith Kirkwood and Adonis Jennings back, whoever ends up under center will have plenty of quality targets available. With little experience at quarterback, Temple may have to rely more on the ground game. Ryquell Armstead had a huge sophomore season, rushing for 919 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is ready to take over as the main rushing threat after splitting carries with Jahad Thomas last year.
Temple’s defense was superb in 2016. They ranked third in the country in pass defense and total defense and 11th in scoring defense. The front seven did a superb job getting to the quarterback, but six starters on the front seven are gone, including end Haason Reddick who tallied 10.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles-for-loss during his senior season. Sam Franklin and William Kwenkeu have some huge shoes to fill. If they are not consistently getting to the quarterback, the talented secondary will struggle to have the third best pass defense in the country again. But the talent level in the secondary is impressive. Safety Delvon Randall led the team with four interceptions last year and added 65 tackles. He will again team up with Sean Chandler, who recorded two interceptions and 51 tackles. At cornerback, Artel Foster, Cequan Jeferson and Derrek Thomas are all very experienced and they will be pushed by North Carolina Central transfer Mike Jones.
The Bottom Line:
Temple has been making some great coaching hires lately and this could just be another step in that direction. Of course, there are a lot of questions every time a new coach comes in. Temple certainly does not have the history of success to believe that they can keep up the success that Coach Rhule brought to the program. With so much roster turnover and big questions at quarterback, expect the Owls to take a step back. How big that step back is will be the big question. Even at its worst, the Owls should be getting back to a bowl game.
Projected Bowl: St. Petersburg Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 176.1 (61st in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 237.4 (63, 7)
Total Offense: 413.6 (66, 8)
Scoring Offense: 32.4 (43, 6)
Rushing Defense: 130.4 (25, 2)
Pass Defense: 152.1 (3, 1)
Total Defense: 282.5 (3, 1)
Scoring Defense: 18.4 (11, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.43 (32, 4)
Sacks: 2.86 (19, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.07 (62, 5)