Villanova at Temple
The Temple Owls have won 43 games in the past ten seasons, and over half of them, 25, came in the past three years. To say that the program has achieved new heights is a massive understatment. However, with such rapid ascensions in the lower levels of college footballs highest classification comes the inevitable moving on of a coach to greener pastures. The program was supposed to take a hit last year when Al Golden left for Miami. However, under Steve Addazio the Owls enjoyed their second nine win season in three years, and won their first bowl game since 1978. So what’s next?
Well, Owls fans might want to live a little bit longer in last year’s successes, because 2012 doesn’t promise to be kind, at all. For starters, Temple is no longer competing in the MAC, moving back to the Big East, where they go from the baddest kid on the block, to the weakest.
Compounding matters is the fact that only eight starters return. Of the four new offensive linemen, they’ve combined for three starts. In total, only 29 starts return on the offensive line for a team that ran the ball nearly 50 times a game last season. Not only missing is the majority of the offensive line, but so is the schools second all time leading rusher, Bernard Pierce, he of the 27 touchdowns in 2011.
Defensively, the Owls lose their top four tacklers from a year ago from a unit that was stifling, holding opponents to just 14 points a game. Despite the losses however, the defense still should be pretty solid, they are expected to have ten upperclassmen as starters, so there’s some experience to replace the six startrs who did leave.
All the news isn’t bad though, while Pierce is now suiting up south of Philadelphia in Baltimore for the Ravens, Matt Brown isn’t exactly an unworthy replacement. Brown himself rushed for over 900 yards last season while averaging 25 yards per kick return.
The Owls should also be in better hands at quarterback. Chris Coyer took over in the last four games last year and completed 60% of his passes for six scores and no interceptions. So don’t be surprised if the Owls trust him a little more to throw the football as opposed to the run heavy attack the employed a year ago.
Last year Temple embarrased cross town rival Villanova and should figure to do the same this season. Villanova had a miserable 2011 campaign, and despite the losses Temple has suffered, there’s still drastically more talent on hand for the Owls than there is for the Wildcats.
While rumors still exist that Villanova may soon be moving out of the FCS level and into the FBS, whether or not they would join the Big East is unknown, though it certainly makes sense, as they are Big East members in every other sport. If they don’t join the Big East, this could be the last installment of the cross town rivalry as there are no scheduled meetings scheduled beyond tonight, and neither school seems too concerned about it.
Temple desperately needs a win to start the season, becaue their next three games are brutal, with Maryland and Big East favorite South Florida coming to town sandwiching a trip to Penn State.