2011 Record: 9-4, 5-3 MAC
2011 Bowl Game: 37-15 win at New Mexico Bowl vs. Wyoming
Head Coach: Steve Addazio
Odds to win Big East: 30/1 (biggest underdog in conference)
Bet at Bovada, the source of these college football odds
Junior quarterback Chris Coyer proved to be a great southpaw versatile quarterback that helped make the Owls one of the success stories of the MAC. Moving to the Big East may spell a quite different story though, as Athlon magazine predicts only a 1-6 record in the much tougher (yet still not THAT tough) conference.
Coyer started the final four games of the season and completed 60% of his passes with a TD to INT ratio of 6:0. Granted, this is a short time to gather so much, but it offers a lot of promise for an Owls team that finished 39th in scoring but did so by virtue of playing in such a weak conference.
They have a new offensive coordinator in Boston College’s Ryan Day. Day will likely employ the same schemes with only minor alterations, but will likely look to put the ball in the air a tad more. They have a Penn State transfer QB in Kevin Newsome, but it is unlikely he challenges Coyer for the starting role, unless Coyer’s performance in those four games really was just a fluke.
At running back, Matt Brown is a bit on the small size, but should prove to be a decent option. Losing Bernard Pierce will hurt, but Brown should be able to provide some similar production, though obviously not the same level as Pierce, who will start his career in the NFL this fall. Brown ran for 916 yards and was over 100 yards in a game on five different occasions.
Boston College transfer Montel Harris is naturally going to help address any deficiencies as well, and should solidify any holes the Owls have at running back. Expect Harris to be quickly integrated to the offense from day one if healthy.
Their receiving core is of dubious merit with only one returning player who even caught more than three passes. They will need improvement at the WR positions to remain relevant in the Big East, and that is unlikely as college football oddsmakers have predicted Temple to finish last in the conference.
The defense was stellar last year, but the Owls just lost two high caliber players to the NFL. That aside, they were third in the nation in points surrendered (only 13.9!) so something must remain from a squad that played that well, especially returning 25 letterman from it.
What will change, however, is the roles that those 25 players play, as without their former standouts, they will need WLB Blazer Capongero to be prominent and big for them defensively.
At nose tackle they have Levi Brown and they also sport end Marcus Green and tackle John Youbouty.
In the secondary, they may be in more trouble, because both their corner backs Mo Jones and Zamel Johnson both lack experience and to a lesser extent, talent. Justin Gildea falls into the same boat, too, of course, though he did lead the team with three interceptions last season. Defensive coordinator Chuck Heater may be in for a rude awakening when he realizes the MAC was one of the worst conferences and things are about to get a lot tougher.
The Owls field goal kicker is ostensibly very good, but most of his longer attempts were not as stellar, hitting only 9 of 15 from 30+ yards. His punting was among the best in the nation, though, because he punted for an average of 46 yards. He also was good for 22 touchbacks on 78 kickoffs.
Brown should be good for returns again, but may not do quite as many now that he is the primary ball carrier, along with Harris, who will do his fair share of returns as well, we expect.
As I’ve said already, this will be a year of transition for Temple playing in the Big East, after having spent seven years in the MAC.
“These kids, they all really want to play on the BCS level,” commented Addazio.
As to whether or not they can is a whole other matter of debate, and Athlon magazine predicts only a 1-6 Big East record, with the team performing much better against weak non-conference opponents, where they are expected to finish 4-1 in those matches.