Temple position analysis: Special teams

OwlsFB26-h
Temple kicker Aaron Boumerhi was named second-team all-conference last year.

Under the guidance of special teams coach Ed Foley, Temple should have a strong until, with experienced kickers being a major strength.

Fierce competition

Other than quarterback, the fiercest competition has been at placekicker. Senior Austin Jones was a third-year starter last year before a torn anterior cruciate ligament, suffered in the sixth game, ended his season. Former walk-on Aaron Boumerhi came in and earned second-team all-American Athletic Conference honors after making 15 of 17 field goals.

The two have waged a close competition, and Foley suggested that a winner might not emerge until right before the Sept. 2 opener at Notre Dame.

Punting is also unsettled. Freshman Connor Bowler (Downingtown West) is in the running. Boumerhi also has been working as a punter. The X-factor is senior Alex Starzyk, who was the starter the previous three years but was suspended indefinitely in the spring. Coach Geoff Collins suggested that Starzyk will be back but didn’t give a timetable. Last season, he averaged 39 yards per punt.

Return men

The Owls have two strong options as punt returners: senior Sean Chandler and graduate transfer Mike Jones.

Chandler averaged 12.1 yards per punt return in 2015 as a sophomore, but returned only six punts last season, mainly because he missed four games because of a knee injury. Jones averaged 22 yards on 10 returns, including a 90-yarder, and scored two touchdowns last season for FCS team North Carolina Central.

There are several kickoff-return candidates, but sophomore Isaiah Wright appears to have the upper hand. He averaged 25.3 yards on 11 returns last season.