In today’s opponent rundown, we take a look at a football program Geoff Collins is highly familiar with, the Temple Owls of the AAC.
Georgia Tech and Temple will meet for the first time on the gridiron on September 28th when Geoff Collins and his Yellow Jackets will travel to a program and city Collins is very familiar, the Temple Owls and Philadelphia. Collins spent the last two seasons in Philadelphia with the Owls, coaching them to a 15-10 record including a bowl victory over Wake Forest in 2017.
After Collins left the Owls, they hired Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz who was in The City of Brotherly Love for a cup of coffee before going back to Miami to be the head man after Mark Richt’s surprise retirement. In their second head coaching search, they hired Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey.
Last season, the Owls went 8-4 overall including 7-1 in conference play. The Owls did struggle to open up last season falling to both Villanova (FCS) and Buffalo in their first two games before winning eight of ten to close out the regular season. Their only other two losses on the season came to Boston College and UCF. They would end up losing their bowl game after Collins left to Duke by a final score of 56-27.
Last season, the Owls were one of the top-25 teams in the country when it came to offense, averaging 34.9 points per game. They’re offense was rather balanced, featuring over 400-passing attempts and 400-rushing attempts. They averaged 253 passing yards per game and 157 rushing yards per game for a grand total of 410-yards of offense per game.
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Defensively, the Owls were about average, allowing 27.1 points per game, 66th best in the country. The Owls allowed on average a total of 374 yards per game, allowing 187-yards both through the air and on the ground. They also forced an impressive 2.4 turnovers per game.
On offense, the Owls return a great deal of talent in 2019 including redshirt junior quarterback Anthony Russo. Russo last year was the Owls primary starter, throwing for just over 2,500-yards while completing 57.4% of his passes. He threw for 14 touchdowns on the season but also threw 14 interceptions. The Owls will need a better season out of Russo in 2019 if they want to improve on their 8-5 record from 2018. He’s the Owls projected starter for this upcoming season.
The Owls in the backfield will have a new starting running back as Ryquell Armstead used up his eligibility. That being said, it’s hard to pinpoint where exactly the Owls will turn at running back in 2019 so we’ll have to wait and see till game week for more on the Owls stable of running backs. The Owls do return most of their offensive line which should help their next starting tailback.
The Owls also lost their top wide receiver from last season but will return their second leading receiver Branden Mack who had 44-receptions for 601-yards and five touchdowns. Notable wide receivers Randle Jones and Isaiah Wright also return for the Owls, giving them a strong trio of receivers to use primarily.
Temple’s defense last year as said above was average across the board except in causing turnovers. In 2019, the defense will need to step it up for the Owls to continue to compete in a tough AAC. With a new coaching staff, it will be interesting to see how the Owls defense changes this season.
The Owls pass defense last year was strong, allowing less than 200-yards per game. They’re rush defense needs to improve but that will improve with more experience within the front seven. The Owls did lose their top tackler from last season in Delvon Randell but return standout linebacker Shaun Bradley, who had a 78-tackle season as a junior. He’ll be the Owls defensive leader in 2019.
The Owls also lost their top pass rusher in Michael Dodgbe who had 12.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks last season. Quincey Rocce will be their top returning pass rusher and backfield menace as he put together nine tackles for a loss and six sacks last season.
Special teams wise, the Owls were up and down in 2018. While they had strong showings in their return game, with three combined kickoff and punt touchdowns as well as punting they struggled in field goals. Last season, as a team, the Owls were 12-for-18 in field goal attempts. Their primary kicker Will Mobley was 11-for-15 but was only a freshman, an improvement could be in store for Mobley in 2019.
What to expect on September 28th:
The Jackets will travel to Philly to take on Owls after a bye week, which should only help the Jackets. It will give them an early season break and chance to break down further their first three weeks of play in their new systems.
When it comes to the game itself, it’s a game that should be rather competitive on both sides but should be a game the Jackets win. While Temple is one of the more talented Group of 5 programs, they struggled mightily against non-conference opponents last season, especially Power 5 opponents. With that, the Jackets should be able to come up on top in this one if the offense and more so the passing game could be just good enough to offset any major defensive mistakes or miscues.
Temple Season Outlook:
In 2019, Temple should be one of the AAC’s top programs. They start the season off with two very winnable games against Bucknell and Buffalo, both games that should be convincing Temple wins. The Jackets are their first real test on the season. Once they get into conference play, four games will determine their fate with matchups against Memphis, UCF, USF, and Cincinnati. Overall, the Owls are probably looking at about 7-5 to a 9-3 record, so for official prediction purposes, we’ll put the Owls at 8-4 in 2019. Such a record should be considered a great success for new head coach Rod Carey.