Sunday, May 21, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Temple Owls
Temple may very well be one of the more difficult teams to project in the AAC for 2017. Gone is Matt Ruhle, who was the architect of the success of the last few seasons in Philadelphia, and in comes defensive guru Geoff Collins, who was DC at both Florida and Mississippi State. How he transitions to being a full fledged head coach, and not just a defensive mind, will go a long way in determining if any of the recent success can continue.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Jahad Thomas may be gone at RB, but not all is lost. Ryquell Armstead returns after a season in which he rushed for 919 yards and a tea leading 14 TDs on the season. Armstead has massive burst and should be a focal point of the offense in 2017.
Receiver should be a major strength for the new Temple QB in 2017, as the top six producing WRs return, including bowl game starters Ventell Bryant, Keith Kirkwood, and Brodrick Yancy. Bryant posted a line of 54-895-4 last fall, and Kirkwood caught 42 passes as well. There should be no shortage of targets to throw the football to.
Three starters return on the line, but Dion Dawkins has moved on, which could hurt. LG John Fair, RG Adrian Sullivan, and RT Leon Johnson all are set to return, and the top reserves at every position on the line will return as well, giving the Owls some solid depth there.
Aaron Boumerhi will return as the starting PK after hitting 15/17 FG attempts last fall.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Logan Marchi and Frank Nutile will take their QB battle into the spring, and there could be other candidates in the mix as well. With Phillip Walker out of the picture, this position is suddenly very unsettled. They attempted a combined eight passes last fall.
Dion Dawkins will be a load to replace at the all important LT spot. Junior Cole Boozer was his primary backup last fall, and is first in line to take over.
There will need to be a find at TE as well, as both Colin Thompson and Romond Deloatch have departed.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The interior defensive line should be rock solid in 2017, as both DT Michael Dogbe and NT Averee Robinson return. They combined for 12.5 TFLs last fall from up the middle, and should be able to apply plenty of pressure up front.
Other than losing Nate Hairston at CB to the draft, three other starters return for the Owls in the secondary in 2017. Ariel Foster returns at one CB spot, while Sean Chandler and Delvin Randall are back at the Safety spots. Sophomore Linwodd Crump gets first crack at replacing Hairston.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
Haason Reddick is gone to the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL, and Praise Martin-Oguike is gone at the other DE spot. That's 32.5 TFLs of productivity gone on one season, and that is going to take some work to replace. Avaery Ellis was Martin-Oguike's backup last season, and he is gone as well. Jacob Martin gets first shot at Reddick's spot.
All three starting LB spots must be replaced in fall camp, as Avery Williams, Jarred Alwan, and Stephaun Marshall all move on. William Kwenkeu and Jeremiah Atoki get first shot at filling in the starting jobs outside, but both are merely sophomores this fall. Junior Jared Folks is next in line at the MLB position.
The Punting game was a bit of a mess last season, as Alex Starzyk averaged just 38.96 yards per punt last fall. He is returning, but either they need more from him, or a replacement must be identified. Boumerhi can punt if needed.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 Notre Dame, 9/9 Villanova, 9/15 U Mass, 9/21 at USF, 9/30 Houston, 10/7 at East Carolina, 10/14 U Conn, 10/21 at Army, 11/2 Navy, 11/10 at Cincinnati, 11/18 UCF, 11/25 at Tulsa
It's going to be an interesting go in year one of the Geoff Collins era for the Owls. First thing he will have to do is find a new QB to replace Phillip Walker, and that will not be easy. He also has to replace Dion Dawkins on the line, making matters more difficult.
The defense may have some issues on the edge and in the middle, as both DEs and all three LBs need to be replaced, and losing Hairston at CB is another major hole to fill.
The schedule is not kind late, but it is not impossible, so the win/loss total should be set right around six for the Owls in 2017.