Head coach: Matt Rhule
2014 Record: 6-6; 4-4 AAC
2014 Bowl: N/A
2015 Returning Starters: 7 offense, 10 defense
Odds to win 2016 CFB Championship: +250000
Odds to win 2015 AAC Title: +575
Regular Season Wins: Over 7 (-140), Under 7 (+120)
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The Temple Owls fell apart as freshman QB P.J. Walker did, but Owls hopeful are hoping that a more experienced QB leads to better results in 2015.
QB P.J. Walker has the talent to be a good quarterback and took over mid-way through in 2013. He started 2014 strong. But then he started really pilfering it, and in his final seven games he threw 11 INTs to just 4 TDs. The Owls proceeded to lose five of those final seven games to finish the season a humble .500.
The OL was partly to blame, to be fair to Walker. It did not have the depth and battled injuries all season, and the Owls are hoping that returning four starters should help improve its lot this season. It also adds three players who had to sit out last season.
At WR the Owls are hoping Keith Kirkwood (Hawaii transfer) and redshirt freshman Ventell Bryant can help to fill the void that was never filled when Robbie Anderson left. The Owls also didn’t really have much going on in the backfield, where Walker was the team’s second leading rusher and no one rushed for even 400 yards.
There is talent though, to be sure, in the form of Zaire Williams (533 yards two seasons ago as a freshman) and David Hood, who lacks experience but has plenty of potential. There are also three new recruits with a lot of talent (T.J. Simmons, Jager Gardner and Ryquell Armstead).
The Owls turned it around majorly defensively last season, allowing just 17.5 points per game, ranking 4th in the nation. It forced 30 turnovers and that was a 17 TO improvement from 2013 when the ‘D’ was horrid. 10 starters return, meaning this unit could be a serious threat in the AAC. Tyler Matakevich is due to become the program’s all-time tackle leader and he reached 100 in each of his first three NCAA seasons. He also has 355 career stops, the highest of any active collegiate player.
Praise Martin-Oguike and T Matt Ioannidis could be NFL talents, and the secondary has been upgraded in a major way. This defense, again, could be very good. It’s biggest holes are at LB, where Avery Williams and Stephaun Marshall are hoping to convert positions to fill the holes. Williams is a former RB and Marshall is a former FS, but both are going to be crucial at LB this season. Marshall should be able to back up all three spots.
Freshman Austin Jones hit 13 of 22 FG and missed at least one FG in each of the first five games last season, but the Owls hit just three FG in 2013 so that was actually an improvement. Punter Alex Starzyk was shaky at best. The Owls did score on a punt return and returned two blocks for TDs, so the special teams can be good. The kickoff returns have to be better and Temple will use Jahad Thomas and Jamie Gilmore for kick and punt returns, respectively.
The Owls improved from just two wins to six from 2013 to 2014. But NCAA football oddsmakers at 5dimes are expecting the O/U at ‘7.’ The team is better than that. Temple has the talent on the defensive end of the ball to get into a bowl game and maybe even win the AAC East, but it has to perform a lot better in close games or suffer the fate of a .500 conference record like a year ago.
The defense last season was the best in the AAC, but with an offense that ranked just No. 7, Temple really couldn’t capitalize on how good its ‘D’ was. To see the Owls best expectations by a win and take eight this season would not be unsurprising. The team begins the season with a tough matchup against Penn State Sept 5 and faces Cincy the next week, so getting off to a good start is imperative. Temple was ranked No. 3 in the AAC in preseason polls.
Prediction: 8 wins