Temple football is a program in flux. Two years after losing Head Coach Al Golden to Miami, his replacement Steve Addazio was hired by BC this past offseason. Now on their third coach in four years, new coach Matt Rhule, a former Temple assistant under Golden, takes the reins of a program that has a chance to grow in this new conference but certainly needs some tender loving care.
Golden deserves a medal or some sort of lifetime achievement award for turning Temple around. He took a program that was a regular on ESPN’s “Bottom 10” and in his fourth season they went 9-4 and made their first bowl appearance since the 1979 Garden State Bowl. They went 8-4 the next year which led to Golden’s departure, but as program on the rise, Temple did not have too much difficulty landing a promising new coach to build off of Al’s success, hiring Florida assistant Steve Addazio.
Temple joined the Big East last year, but they were actually founding members of Big East Football (they were kicked out in 2004 for sucking) so this is not an unfamiliar opponent for UCONN. Since we moved to Division 1-A in 2002, the Huskies have played Temple 6 times, going 3-3. This includes a very painful, and very difficult to watch, 17-14 OT loss last year. Can we avenge this loss and take control of the all-time series? Let's take a look!
How they've fared
Not well- in their first season back in the Big East, Temple went 4-8 (2-5 in conference). Now in the American, the schedule will get easier but most are still predicting the Owls to finish among the bottom dwellers of the league. Because of the new coach and what we've heard about his plans, there isn't a whole lot to learn from their old offense. Last year’s team featured a run heavy approach that those who follow Florida should be familiar with. Their very young defense had a lot of trouble stopping people. That defense is still quite young, but we should see some improvement from the unit that gave up the most points and yards in the Big East by a lot. This could be a solid team a few years down the road, maybe even next year, but for now there are some growing pains ahead.
How they look
Rhule plans on starting previously under-used pocket passer Connor Reilly. With a more balanced offensive approach and most starters returning at the skill positions and offensive line, this should be an improved and less predictable unit. Defensively, they seem to have a propensity to rush the passer so that’s good, but inexperience across the board will undoubtedly do them in numerous times across the schedule.
What will happen?
Last year we played Temple at the Rent, this year we’ll play at Lincoln Financial on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I think we win this one comfortably. McCombs will have his way with a defense that has been particularly vulnerable to the run and our Defense holds them to under 10 points. This game is by far the closest away football game on the schedule and will probably be a must win for our bowl chances so if you're looking for a fun time, maybe make a weekend trip to Philly and take in the UCONN-Temple game while you're there.
Regular Season Prediction: 4-8 (2-6)