Saturday, December 20, 2014

Temple football at a glance

Temple quarterback P.J. Walker. (Clem Murray/Staff Photographer)
Temple quarterback P.J. Walker. (Clem Murray/Staff Photographer)

Coach: Matt Rhule (2-10 in one season).

Last Season: 2-10; 1-7 in American Athletic, t-9th place.

Three to watch on offense

P.J. Walker

QB, SO., 6-1, 200

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  • How will he follow up the best season ever by a Temple freshman quarterback?

    Kenneth Harper

    RB, SR., 6-0, 225

    He is the closet thing to an every-down back on the roster.

    Romond Deloatch

    WR, R-SO., 6-4, 225

    If healthy, this gifted athlete could be a playmaker in the passing game.

    Three to watch on defense

    Tyler Matakevich

    LB, JR., 6-1, 235

    He set school and conference records with 24 tackles against Idaho last season and is hungry for more.

    Alex Wells

    S, JR., 6-0, 200

    He will be crucial to the development of a secondary that could be significantly better.

    Matt Ioannidis

    DT, JR., 6-4, 285

    Tied for the lead in sacks (three) last season, he bulked up and switched from end to inside.

    How it could go right for the Owls

    After winning just two games all of last season, a 2-2 mark in the first month this year, with games against Delaware State and Connecticut, shouldn't be out of reach. The American, with the additions of teams like Tulane and Tulsa and the exodus of Louisville, is weaker than it was a year ago. If one or two of the big freshman receivers emerges as a playmaker, the loss of Robbie Anderson might not be as bad as expected. Rhule is looking for a much better pass rush than the Owls have seen in recent years. Last season they recorded just 19 sacks. If a pass rush emerges early, the secondary will have less pressure on it, and the Owls instantly become a better team.

    How it could go wrong for the Owls

    With only one returning regular starter on the offensive line, Temple could struggle in the running and passing games. That could rattle the confidence of P.J. Walker and result in the dual-threat quarterback trying to take on too much responsibility. Starting receivers John Christopher (5-10, 185) and Jalen Fitzpatrick (5-11, 180) are smallish. If they have trouble getting off the line and a younger receiver doesn't emerge to help in the passing game, the Owls could become very one-dimensional. While the secondary has the potential to be better, developing chemistry may not happen overnight. While the Owls won't see quarterbacks such as Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles as they did last season, the secondary will be tested often.

    John N. Mitchell Inquirer Staff Writer
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