Sunday, June 5, 2011

Temple Owls 2010 Review

Temple Owls
2010 Record: 8-4 (5-3), 3rd MAC East
2010 Bowl Game: None

     I am still seriously trying to figure out how Temple was shut out of the bow picture, yet Middle Tennessee was allowed in. It does not make any sense to me, as 8 wins should have easily qualified the Owls for the postseason in a very watered down bowl market. Even that was not enough to convince bowl games to allow Temple into the party, and they deserved the trip more than many other teams did.
     The Owls, again, have not been a passing game power as of late, but they seemed to find their guy after Chester Stewart got hurt, when Mike Gerardi took over the job. Gerardi averaged 215 yards per game while passing for 1290 yards and 10 TDs in just 6 games. The only issue was that  Gerardi also tossed 8 picks in those 6 games. Stewart passed for 842 yards in 9 games, but his ratio was inverted as he went for 4 TDs and 5 picks.
     Bernard Pierce, who was a freshman sensation, slowed considerably in his sophomore season, as he only managed to rush for 728 yards. He did maintain his scoring ability, as he punched it in 10 times last fall. He is definately due for another upswing. Matt Brown was a nice find, as he actually led the team with 830 yards while scoring 7 times. The good news is that the Owls have both backs on the roster for at least one more season, and maybe two.
     The Owls ran a pretty basic passing scheme under the defensive minded Al Golden last season, and the receiving numbers were modest at best. Michael Campbell led the team with a line of 45-724-6. Rod Streater posted a less significant line of 30-481-4, but he is the lone returnee as a starting WR for 2011. TE Evan Rodriguez was 3rd on the team with a line of 21-247-2, and he returns next season as well, and considering that the new HC is Steve Addazio of Florida, Rodriguez should be encouraged, as Aaron Hernandez became a star at the position for the Gators.
     Defense is where Temple lived under Golden, and they were a solid unit again last fall. The Owls allowed only 317 yards per game and 25 TDs last season in 12 games, which is highly impressive.
      The top four tacklers departed after last fall, and that may hurt the Owls in 2011. DB Jaiquawn Jarrett led the team with 74 tackles, LB Elijah Joseph was 2nd (71), and Muhammed Wilkerson was 3rd (70). Amara Kamara (67) was the 4th member of the group and departs as well. That leaves a pair of DBs (Justin Gildea and Tahir Whitehead) are the leadin returning tacklers at this point, and only Kee-ayre Griffin joined them as having busted the 50 tackle barrier, but he also departs.
     Wilkerson was the lone Owl defender to bust into double figure TFLs last season, as he collected 13 on the season. He promptly turned that into an early entry into the NFL where he'll be using his abilities for the Jets whenever the lockout winds down. Wilkerson was the defensive star, as he also collected 9.5 sacks. The bad news is that nobody came close to Wilkerson when it came to applying pressure up front, and that will have to be fixed by Addazio as he takes over.
     Joseph and Marquis Liverpool were the main playmakers in the secondary, as both finished with 6 passes defended, but you guessed it, Lboth were seniors and are moving on. Not good news for the Owls, who actually needed to step it up a bit to get into the postseason. The Owls were severely lacking when it came to creating turnoversw through the air, as they only picked off 9 passes all season long. In contrast, the Owls threw 13 picks on the season.
     Brandon McManus was a sophomore last fall. We'll let that be his excuse. McManus only managed to connect on 13 of his 20 FGs last season, but was much more dependable on his PATs, as he connected on 31 of 32. He has some work to do, or he could be pushed. Jeff Wathne, the punter last season, had no such excuse. He was a senior, and he never averaged 40 yards per punt, which is and should be the basic bencmark of a decent season. Wathne finished by averaging 38.98 yards per punt.
Final Notes
     While it was disappointing that Temple failed to reach a bowl at 8 wins, they were not the most attractive candidate when you looked at how non-flashy they tended to be. Temple was in actuality, a very boring team to watch at times, and they still do not have a strong following, even in their own market. Steve Addazio has a huge bill of work to accomplish in order to build on what Al Golden has done in Philadelphia in a relatively short period of time. Look for Addazio to crank up the offense a bit, but he needs to build on the defense as well. With all of the talent departing, and a new era in coaching coming on, could Temple take a dive for a year or two? Very possibly so.

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