Schedule and Odds
Temple finished with only two wins last season in Matt Rhule’s first year as head coach, but they still have bowl aspirations in 2014. The Owls return 12 starters from a team that lost an unfortunate amount of close Games, Four by three points or less. Turn those ones around and a bowl is in sight.
Despite last year’s record, the brightest spot had to come at quarterback where freshman P.J. Walker started to come into his own, finishing with 20 TDs and 8 INTs. With an improved arm and ever-present scrambling ability (332 rushing yards), Walker will give defenses plenty of problems. Walker loses his top two receivers, but still has Jalen Fitzpatrick (38 receptions) and John Christopher (31 receptions) to fill in the spots. And at running back, Temple’s top two guys return in bruisers Kenneth Harper (613 yards, 9 TDs) and Zaire Williams (553 yards).
While Walker may be improved, it may not mean a whole lot if the offensive line can’t keep him upright. His scrambling ability can only go so far. The line loses Four of last year’s starters, which is going to be tough to fill right away. The good news is that Rhule is a former offensive line coach in the NFL, so he should know how to handle the situation.
The defense is in a similar situation and will have a full returning linebacking core to help out. While their numbers aren’t all that bad, the Owls gave up at least 20 points in every Game but one last season, which doesn’t get many wins with the type of offense they have.
The linebackers are led by NFL prospect Tyler Matakevich, who had a ridiculous 137 tackles in 2013. The secondary is where the problem will be for Temple as only one starter returns in cornerback Tavon Young. against pass-heavy teams like East Carolina, the Owls will find themselves in a lot of trouble. The line returns some talent, but is still really young and a bit undersized on the ends.
Temple’s Schedule is a bit harder than last year’s so reaching that six-win mark will be tough. In non-Conference action, their only win may come against Delaware State, unless they surprise and beat Navy at home. A three-Game AAC stretch of Houston, UCF and East Carolina will more than likely result in three losses.
The Owls best chances at AAC wins will come in home Games against Tulsa and Memphis, as well as Tulane on the road. From there, they still need to upset two teams to lock up that bowl bid.
They have the talent and experience at skill positions, but if the offensive line can’t get going, Walker could have more problems than last season. Matakevich and the linebackers have a big role this season, needing to be dominant in stopping the run if this team wants to improve.
5 dimes sportsbook has odds/lines posted for the first few weeks of Games for several AAC teams. Check em out.
2014 Temple Football Schedule
Aug. 28 at Vanderbilt
Sept. 6 vs. Navy
Sept. 20 vs. Delaware State
Sept. 27 at Connecticut
Oct. 11 vs. Tulsa
Oct. 17 at Houston
Oct. 25 at UCF
Nov. 1 vs. East Carolina
Nov. 7 vs. Memphis
Nov. 15 at Penn State
Nov. 29 vs. Cincinnati
Dec. 6 at Tulane