Owls looking for a home run hitter out of the backfield

Temple coach Matt Rhule. (Michael S. Wirtz/Staff Photographer)

One area of emphasis that continues to be of high importance is the sorting out of crowded field at running back. We’ll keep an eye on this at Saturday’s second scrimmage.

You get the feeling that Temple coach Matt Rhule now feels pretty confident that senior Kenny Harper can be his power back, churning out the tough yardage when he has to and at the same time being capable of breaking off nice chunks of yardage.

But Rhule is also looking for a back that is capable of hitting home runs. One of those guys might be sophomore Zaire Williams, who last season averaged 5.0 yards per carry on 55 carries. Williams, who last season broke off Temple’s longest run from scrimmage (50 yards), has gotten reps with the ones.

Other candidates in the mix are Jamie Gilmore, who sat out Wednesday morning’s practice after tweaking a hamstring; Jahad Thomas, a defensive back last season who has looked impressive at running back, and Hassan Dixon. Dixon looked particularly good in the team’s first scrimmage last Saturday.

“I feel really good about Kenny, and Jamie was having a really good camp until he got hurt,” Rhule said Wednesday.  “Hassan has looked good, and we’ve moved Jahad Thomas (a defensive back) over and he’s looked really good.

“But no one has really emerged yet and that’s what the second scrimmage is going to have to be about, who has the big play capability,” Rhule continued. “We are looking for the guy who can take 8 (yards) and turn it into 80. That’s what we’re looking for right now.”


The Owls held the rare afternoon practice on Tuesday. Rhule has cut back significantly on the number of two-a-day practices the team is holding. … The Owls will just hold a walkthrough on Thursday. … Rhule was very complimentary on the play of left tackle Dion Dawkins on Wednesday, saying, “I think he’s going to be one of the best tackles in the league. If he can stay healthy he’s going to be lights out. … Rhule pointed out that of the freshman on the roster, defensive back Sean Chandler (Camden) and Jacob Martin (Aurora, CO) have been the most consistent and impressive after almost two weeks. “We’ve seen some pleasant surprises.”