#97 Temple Football 2014 Preview

Temple Owls

Overall Rank: #97
#9 American

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Temple got off to a horrible start to the 2013 campaign under first year Coach Matt Rhule. While the wins did not start rolling in, the Owls did improve as the season progressed. It culminated with a 41-21 win at Memphis to close out the season. Temple should expect to build off of that win and at least improve in 2014. That may result in a 3-9 campaign, but that is improvement.

2013 Record: (2-10, 1-7)
2013 Bowl: None
Coach: Matt Rhule (2-10, 2-10)
Offensive Coordinator: Marcus Satterfield
Defensive Coordinator: Phil Snow

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kenneth Harper, RB, 613 yards
Passing: P.J. Walker, QB, 2,084 yards
Receiving: Jalen Fitzpatrick, WR, 429 yards
Tackles: Tyler Matakevich, LB, 137
Sacks: Matt Ioannidis, DL, 3.0
Interceptions: Tyler Matakevich, LB, 1; Tavon Young, CB, 1

Other Key Returnees: RB Zaire Williams, WR John Christopher, DB Jahad Thomas, DB Anthony Robey, LB Nate D. Smith

Key Losses: WR Robby Anderson, WR Ryan Alderman, K/P Paul Layton

Led by sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker, the Temple offense has quite a bit of potential. In nine games, Walker threw for 2,084 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also rushed for 332 yards and could be a dual threat star in the AAC sooner or later. Last time we saw Walker he threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns against Memphis. With a year of taking first team reps in practice, his potential is through the roof. But some of his top targets are gone. Jalen Fitzpatrick is the top returning receiver with 38 catches for 429 yards. Temple still needs to find an option or two who can stretch the field. The offensive line, a strength last year, was decimated by graduation and some former reserves must be ready to step up. The offense could spend more time on the ground this year. Kenneth Harper, Zaire Williams and Jamie Gilmore are all capable backs and, of course, Walker is a threat with his legs.

Even with the potential of the offense, the Owls are not going to take a significant step forward without drastic improvement on defense. The team allowed nearly 300 yards per game through the air alone and that was with Army bringing down the average. With virtually no pass rush and an ineffective secondary, it was far too easy for any team with a half way decent passing game to pick apart the Temple defense. And even with teams passing against them so often, the Owls still only picked off three passes all season long and two of those came late in the game against Army while the Black Knights were trying to catch up. The defense is growing up and was terribly young in 2013. Tyler Matakevich led the team with 137 tackles and is emerging as a leader at linebacker. Coach Rhule has brought in plenty of new faces to throw into the fire in the secondary, but it remains to be seen if they are ready to compete at this level.

The Bottom Line:
This may not be a team that has a legitimate shot at six wins, but Temple could be a fun team to watch if the offense and Walker live up to their potential. But when it comes to actually winning games against teams like Navy, Delaware State, Memphis and Tulane, it will come down to the defense making stops.

Projected Bowl: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 149.3 (81st in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 249.7 (46, 6)
Total Offense: 399.0 (74, 6)
Scoring Offense: 24.9 (88, 7)
Rushing Defense: 175.0 (76, 10)
Pass Defense: 298.6 (119, 9)
Total Defense: 473.6 (108, 10)
Scoring Defense: 29.8 (82, 8)
Turnover Margin: -0.5 (97, 6)
Sacks:  1.58 (94, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 2.67 (101, 6)


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