Not too long ago, the Big East booted Temple because it was arguably the worst big-time football program in America. But the team has improved so much in the past few years that the Owls are back in the Big East (from the MAC), replacing the departed West Virginia.
Steve Addazio replaced Al Golden at Temple in December 2010. The former Florida offensive coordinator (yep, he coached Tim Tebow) led the Owls to a 9-4 record and a 37-15 victory over Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl in his first season at Temple. The bowl win was the school’s first since the Jimmy Carter administration.
Only nine starters are back from last year’s nine-win team. But Temple’s most important returnee is Addazio, whose decision to stay on North Broad Street (Illinois wanted him) should enable Temple to keep building on its recent positive momentum and probably become a factor in the Big East standings sooner than most people think.
What to watch for on offense: Junior QB Chris Coyer was a well-kept secret a year ago. And why not? He started just four games down the stretch for a program out of the MAC. However, now that he’s a more established entity—and his Owls reside in the Big East—he could become quite a bit little less anonymous in 2012. While still developing as a passer, he was virtually unstoppable as a runner, a quality this offense likes in its quarterbacks. In fact, despite playing an abbreviated slate, the 6-3, 230-pound Coyer still rumbled for 562 yards and three scores on only 69 carries. After ranking 116th nationally in passing offense, the Owls are eager to take a few more shots downfield, leveraging the big-play possibilities of receivers Deon Miller and Malcolm Eugene.
What to watch for on defense: In dire need of a capable pass rusher to emerge in the aftermath of Adrian Robinson’s graduation, the staff is holding out hope that senior John Youboty can approach his once-sizable potential. The end, who originally turned down major offers to play for Mark Snyder at Marshall, transferred to Temple following a serious vertebra injury. Last year was spent getting comfortable being back on the field. The best player on this unit is senior SS Justin Gildea. He made 51 tackles, 4.5 stops for loss, three sacks and three interceptions a year ago.
Can the Owls, who play only 11 regular-season games because the Big East added them so late, win the six games they need to get a bowl invitation? They have three winnable nonleague games against Villanova, Army and Maryland (a team they pasted by 31 points last year) and an always-tough trip to Penn State. If they’re able to go 3-1, they’d only need three Big East wins to get in the bowl mix.
Returning starters: Offense: 4; Defense: 5; Kicker/punter: 1
Top returners: QB Chris Coyer, RB Matt Brown, OL Martin Wallace, LB Blaze Caponegro, S Justin Gildea, K Brandon McManus
Key losses: OL Pat Boyle, OL Pat Tribue, RB Bernard Pierce, TE Evan Rodriguez, DE Adrian Robinson, LB
Stephen Johnson, LB Tahir Whitehead
Odds to win Big East: +1800
Oct. 6–South Florida