Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.
1. From 2-10 to 6-6 to ... ?
You don't have to believe it. Small samples create results your eyes don't expect, and no matter what, we're working with samples of 12 to 15 Saturdays. Another 15-20 Saturdays might paint a different picture.
Regardless, on the 12 Saturdays that Temple played football last fall, the Owls put together a series of results that suggested they had one of the best defenses in FBS. They allowed 17.5 points per game, fourth in the country. They allowed 4.75 yards per play, 11th.
And when you adjust for opponent, the rankings don't change much. Temple ranked 16th in Def. S&P+, driven by the ability to limit big plays, prevent teams from turning scoring opportunities into seven points, and improve dramatically as a half unfolded.
You don't have to believe that Temple's 2014 defense was better than Georgia's (17th in Def. S&P+), Michigan's (18th), Virginia's (19th), etc. But it was awfully effective.
Two other interesting notes about this defense:
1. In 10 years of S&P+ data, the only unit to ever improve by more than 90 spots in one season had been Auburn's offense in Gus Malzahn's return, jumping 91 spots. Temple's defense improved by 97.
2. It returns all 11 starters and almost its entire second string. It also adds the fruits of a second straight solid recruiting class.
A unit that improves so dramatically likely improved too much and will see statistical regression. And a unit that returns all 11 starters is almost guaranteed to improve. These conflicting traits make Temple a fascinating team.
Of course, with a top-20 defense, Temple still went 6-6. That was a rise from 2013's 2-10 finish, but it was still a mediocre finish in a mediocre conference. That tells you most of what you need to know about the offense.
But the combination of experience (the starting quarterback, two of three primary rushers, three of the top four receivers, and four starting linemen) and new blood (four three-star-plus running backs, two-three star receivers, and a four-star redshirt freshman lineman) could drag the Owls higher on the scoreboard.
And if the offense indeed improves, then ... why wouldn't Temple be an AAC contender? Especially with four of the six best teams on the schedule coming to Philadelphia?
Temple is one of college football's most fascinating teams in 2015. At least, on paper. (A bend-don't-break defense and sketchy offense don't create a team that is pleasing to the eye.) Matt Rhule has upgraded Temple's recruiting, and after a full-fledged Year Zero in 2013 (the Owls might have been the worst team in FBS for the first month), his squad made clear progress. I don't know what to expect, but if you play the Count the Ifs game, it doesn't take many ifs to make the Owls a legitimate top-50 team.
2014 Schedule & Results
|Record: 6-6 | Adj. Record: 6-6 | Final F/+ Rk: 67|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|25-Oct||at Central Florida||60||14-34||L||7%||-33.8||0%|
|15-Nov||at Penn State||45||13-30||L||29%||-13.2||23%|
|Points Per Game||23.1||100||17.5||4|
2. Either great on the road or iffy at home
After an up-and-down start, Temple's defense was consistent. The Owls allowed 7.3 yards per play against Navy's masterful option, suffocated Delaware State to the tune of 1.8 yards per play, then settled into a rhythm; in each of their other 10 games, they allowed between 3.8 and 5.4 yards per play.
That's the only time I'll use the word "consistent." Temple's week-to-week performances were all over the map, thanks to their hit-or-mostly-miss offense. When the offense showed up, the Owls played like a top-40 team: 77th percentile against Vanderbilt, 92nd against Delaware State, 73rd against UConn, 79th against ECU, 71st against Tulane.
When the offense was a liability, it was too much for the defense to overcome. The five performances at the 70th percentile or greater were offset by five weeks spent below the 30th percentile. Temple's week-to-week performance chart looked like a heartbeat, but there's another interesting trait that could be important:
- Average Percentile Performance (home): 53% (record: 3-3)
- Average Percentile Performance (road): 46% (record: 3-3)
This is the first year I've been working with the idea of using percentiles to measure performance, so I don't know all the ins and outs yet, but a team's home averages seem to be about 25 percent higher than its road averages. Temple's were not. The Owls were almost the same team at home and away.
We can draw either of two conclusions from this, beyond the general "sample sizes!" warning: either Temple was strong on the road, or the team derived no advantage at Lincoln Financial Field. Coaches like to say that good defense travels, so maybe the Owls were destined to have smaller home-road splits. But as I've discussed regarding UMass and its games at Gillette Stadium, a half-empty stadium is going to dissipate noise.
The Linc holds 68,500 people, and Temple averaged 23,370, peaking at 28,408. That's not a terrible average, and it could improve with an incredible home slate that features visits from Penn State and Notre Dame. But an actual home-field environment could do wonders.
Of course, that's a touchy issue. The Linc arrangement ends after 2017, and while the university debates making the commitment for a near-campus stadium, the pro and con lists are long. As a fan of underdogs, I would love to see the program improve and move into a happy stadium. But there are concrete reasons why it might not happen.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||36.1%||114||Succ. Rt. +||85.3||119|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||29.0||51||Def. FP+||99.0||77|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||3.3||124||Redzone S&P+||89.8||95|
|Q1 Rk||115||1st Down Rk||113|
|Q2 Rk||86||2nd Down Rk||70|
|Q3 Rk||80||3rd Down Rk||58|
Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|P.J. Walker||6'1, 200||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8091||203||381||2317||13||15||53.3%||19||4.8%||5.5|
|Tim DiGiorgio||6'3, 191||So.||NR||NR|
|Frank Nutile||6'4, 199||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8079|
|Lenny Williams||5'10, 196||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8234|
|Logan Marchi||6'1, 170||Fr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7881|
3. Pass first, couldn't pass (again)
As strong as the defense was, the offense was almost equally weak. Despite an intriguing talent at quarterback, the Owls had a pass-first offense that couldn't pass.
P.J. Walker lost his two best targets from 2013, and his stats regressed: his completion rate fell from 61 percent to 53, his interception rate rose from 3 percent to 4 percent, and his per-attempt yardage fell from 7.1 to 5.5. Even his rushing average fell from 7 (not including sacks) to 5.2.
Opponents figured out his tendencies, and Temple didn't have enough weapons to help him counteract a slump. Walker pressed, and opponents took advantage.
An ankle injury didn't help. He battled a limp, and there was quite a split between his first five games and his last seven.
- P.J. Walker's passing (first 5 games): 62% completion rate, 11.3 yards per completion, 5.7% TD rate, 2.5% INT rate
- P.J. Walker's passing (last 7 games): 47% completion rate, 11.5 yards per completion, 1.8% TD rate, 4.9% INT rate.
Walker's rating was 138 or higher in four of the first five, then fell below 113 for each of the final seven and below 85 for four games in a row. Consequently, Temple scored 20 or fewer points in each of the last seven games and averaged 10.5 points per game over the last four.
A healthy Walker still has quite a bit going for him, and if the skill positions give him more options, a bounceback is more than achievable.
|P.J. Walker||QB||6'1, 200||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8091||87||451||3||5.2||4.8||42.5%||9||2|
|Jahad Thomas||RB||5'10, 170||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7000||80||384||0||4.8||7.1||30.0%||2||1|
|Jamie Gilmore||RB||5'8, 190||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8596||56||229||1||4.1||4.0||32.1%||0||0|
|David Hood||RB||5'9, 185||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7793||11||62||0||5.6||3.7||54.5%||0||0|
|Zaire Williams||RB||5'11, 195||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8615||7||17||0||2.4||0.5||14.3%||0||0|
|Bashir Lee||RB||5'9, 188||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8612|
|T.J. Simmons||RB||6'1, 195||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.8740|
|Chapelle Cook||RB||6'1, 214||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8464|
|Jager Gardner||RB||6'2, 205||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8148|
|Ryquell Armstead||RB||5'11, 205||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8117|
4. No shortage of running backs
Walker was still an efficient runner, something that couldn't be said for any of Temple's primary backs. None had an Opportunity Rate (percentage of carries gaining at least five yards) greater than 32.1 percent, and while both Kenneth Harper and Jahad Thomas were explosive in open field, they rarely saw open field.
In 2015, there will at least be options. Thomas and Jamie Gilmore return, as do sophomore David Hood and junior Zaire Williams, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry in 2013 before battling injury last year. And if none of these are up to snuff, bring on the youngsters. T.J. Simmons was a top-200 recruit according to Rivals, and three other incoming freshmen were three-stars. Plus, Bashir Lee, a former star recruit, is only a sophomore.
This is a quantity-leads-to-quality situation. Nine Temple running backs produced well at some point in either college or high school. The odds are good that a couple will produce in 2015.
The odds are also good that the line will improve -- it returned only one starter in 2014, and a shuffled-around lineup struggled. Now, seven with starting experience return, including all-conference center Kyle Friend. And if two well-touted redshirt freshmen (including a Rivals four-star in Aaron Ruff) live up to potential, there's room in the rotation.
This won't be a great line, but if the line and running backs both improve, Temple won't have to rely nearly as much on Walker.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|John Christopher||WR||5'10, 185||Sr.||NR||NR||42||24||194||57.1%||11.3%||59.5%||4.6||-103||4.6||24.3|
|Brandon Shippen||WR||5'11, 189||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7700||35||12||165||34.3%||9.4%||57.1%||4.7||-4||4.7||20.7|
|Romond Deloatch||WR||6'4, 225||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8325||32||14||169||43.8%||8.6%||53.1%||5.3||-15||5.3||21.2|
|Nate Hairston||WR||6'0, 185||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7000||23||13||88||56.5%||6.2%||52.2%||3.8||-73||3.8||11.0|
|Jahad Thomas||RB||5'10, 170||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7000||22||14||364||63.6%||5.9%||68.2%||16.5||194||18.1||45.7|
|Colin Thompson||TE||6'4, 250||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9408||19||11||98||57.9%||5.1%||63.2%||5.2||-38||5.3||12.3|
|Jamie Gilmore||RB||5'8, 190||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8596||16||13||166||81.3%||4.3%||68.8%||10.4||15||10.6||20.8|
|Khalif Herbin||WR||5'7, 170||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8026||15||9||53||60.0%||4.0%||73.3%||3.5||-57||3.0||6.6|
|Brodrick Yancy||WR||5'11, 184||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8060||13||6||35||46.2%||3.5%||38.5%||2.7||-43||3.0||4.4|
|Keith Kirkwood||WR||6'3, 210||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||NR||9||4||69||44.4%||2.4%||55.6%||7.7||17||7.9||8.7|
|Samuel Benjamin||WR||6'0, 195||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8077|
|Ventell Bryant||WR||6'3, 180||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7966|
|Kip Patton||TE||6'5, 230||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7979|
|Patrick Anderson||WR||6'4, 225||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8155|
|Cortrelle Simpson||WR||5'10, 175||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7985|
5. Step right up! Opportunities available!
Of course, you know what else helps a quarterback? Receivers. And it's not clear whether Walker has any.
Three of last year's top four return, but John Christopher, Brandon Shippen, and Romond Deloatch combined to average an abysmal 4.8 yards per target over nine targets per game. Only Jalen Fitzpatrick was productive, and he's gone. This unit struggled with separation, drops ... everything a receiving corps is supposed to do.
Aside from four-star sophomore tight end Colin Thompson, Rhule's staff hasn't recruited any slam dunks, so there isn't immediate hope for improvement. Redshirt freshman Ventell Bryant had a nice spring, and there's always a chance that a freshman like Patrick Anderson or Cortrelle Simpson carve out a niche.
But while the running game should absolutely improve, we can't say the same about the pass. And that could be an obvious issue if coordinator Marcus Satterfield continues with his pass-first preferences.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Kyle Friend||C||6'2, 305||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7909||33||2014 2nd All-AAC|
|Brendan McGowan||C||6'4, 300||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7519||13|
|Eric Lofton||RT||6'5, 300||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7444||12|
|Shahbaz Ahmed||LG||6'3, 285||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7873||9|
|Semaj Reed||LT||6'7, 300||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7000||1|
|Brian Carter||LG||6'3, 280||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7000||1|
|Leon Johnson||RG||6'6, 300||So.||NR||0.7000||1|
|Adrian Sullivan||RT||6'5, 280||So.||2 stars (5.2)||NR||0|
|Aaron Ruff||OL||6'3, 300||RSFr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8571|
|James McHale||OL||6'6, 300||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8117|
|Benson Israel||OL||6'1, 316||Fr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8008|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||37.6%||21||Succ. Rt. +||102.5||56|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||33.2||13||Off. FP+||102.0||38|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||2.8||1||Redzone S&P+||122.6||10|
|Q1 Rk||62||1st Down Rk||51|
|Q2 Rk||20||2nd Down Rk||24|
|Q3 Rk||94||3rd Down Rk||67|
6. The best bend-don't-break D in the country
This offseason, I tweaked my S&P+ ratings to deal not only with efficiency (Success Rates) and explosiveness (PPP), but also the components that go into field position and finishing drives. The latter helped Temple's defensive ratings dramatically.
The Owls were efficient for a mid-major defense and prevented big plays at a top-25 level. But their biggest strength was how they played when the field shrank. Opponents averaged 2.8 points per scoring opportunity (first downs inside Temple's 40), less than a field goal per trip. And even adjusting for opponent, Temple had a top-10 defense in this regard.
Playing bend-don't-break is both effective and tenuous. From a tactical standpoint, you can continue playing smart near the goal line, but waiting until the last second to make a stop can lead to huge changes from year to year based on personnel. If your linebacking corps is suddenly weaker near the goal line, or if your defensive backs give up a few more big plays and easy scores, the balance gets shifted.
Luckily, that won't be an immediate issue. The Owls return every starter and almost every backup. Beyond omnipresent injury concerns, it appears veteran coordinator Phil Snow could find a lot of the same success.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Matt Ioannidis||DT||6'4, 285||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8091||12||36.5||5.0%||11.0||3.5||0||3||0||0|
|Praise Martin-Oguike||DE||6'2, 250||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7585||12||31.0||4.3%||9.5||7.0||0||0||5||1|
|Sharif Finch||DE||6'4, 240||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7833||12||27.5||3.8%||7.5||2.0||1||1||2||0|
|Hershey Walton||NT||6'4, 300||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7778||12||22.5||3.1%||4.5||0.0||0||2||0||0|
|Avery Ellis||DE||6'2, 246||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7736||11||15.5||2.1%||4.5||2.0||0||0||1||0|
|Jacob Martin||DE||6'3, 230||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7826||12||9.5||1.3%||1.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Brandon Chudnoff||DE||6'2, 250||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8086||10||5.5||0.8%||1.5||1.5||0||0||0||0|
|Averee Robinson||NT||6'1, 285||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7806||12||4.5||0.6%||1.5||1.5||0||0||0||1|
|Jullian Taylor||DE||6'5, 240||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7833||2||3.5||0.5%||1.5||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Michael Dogbe||DE||6'3, 240||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8168||4||2.5||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Kiser Terry||DT||6'3, 275||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7000||9||2.5||0.3%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Freddie Booth-Lloyd||DT||6'0, 315||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8219|
|Brenon Thrift||DE||6'3, 230||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8005|
|Greg Webb||DT||6'1, 312||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8731|
|Dana Levine||DE||6'4, 213||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8169|
|Josiah Bronson||DE||6'5, 265||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7833|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Tyler Matakevich||WLB||6'1, 235||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7100||12||102.5||14.1%||10.5||1.5||1||3||0||0|
|Nate D. Smith||MLB||6'0, 225||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7659||11||58.5||8.0%||2.0||0.0||1||1||3||0|
|Avery Williams||SLB||5'10, 210||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7200||9||30.5||4.2%||3.5||1.0||0||1||0||0|
|Stephaun Marshall||WLB||5'11, 205||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8220||12||27.5||3.8%||2.0||2.0||0||3||0||0|
|Jarred Alwan||MLB||6'1, 230||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8362||10||19.0||2.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Rob Dvoracek (2013)||SLB||6'2, 230||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8148||8||17.5||2.4%||3.0||0.0||0||3||0||0|
|Michael Felton||WLB||6'0, 215||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7000||12||13.0||1.8%||2.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Rob Ritrovato||LB||6'0, 210||So.||NR||NR||4||1.5||0.2%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jared Folks||LB||6'2, 218||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7954|
|Daishaun Grimes||LB||6'2, 192||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8125|
7. Sound and stout
Temple's success was based around invasive play, stout linebacking, and big-play prevention. Of the 10 players who recorded at least three tackles for loss, nine return. So does each component of one of the best linebacking corps in the country.
Tyler Matakevich is an absolute wrecking ball, the rare weakside linebacker who combines tackling-machine capabilities -- it's obvious that the defense filters the ball toward Matakevich and MLB Nate D. Smith, and Matakevich has a chance to become the seventh player in NCAA history to record 100-plus tackles in each of his four seasons -- with residence in the backfield. Tackles Matt Ioannidis and Hershey Walton combined for 15.5 tackles for loss and commanded attention, which freed Matakevich up to wreck shop.
Combine this work with a pass-rush specialist in Praise Martin-Oguike and depth at linebacker -- both Smith and Avery Williams missed time, and Rob Dvoracek missed the season with injury, but then-sophomores Avery Williams, Stephaun Marshall, and Jarred Alwan stepped up -- and you've got a lovely front seven. The run defense could stand to improve (and should), but the steadiness and play-making ability that emerged on a shrunken field were fantastic.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Sean Chandler||CB||5'11, 180||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8019||12||60.5||8.3%||3||1||1||8||2||0|
|Alex Wells||FS||6'0, 200||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8200||9||43.5||6.0%||0||0||0||5||0||0|
|Will Hayes||SS||5'9, 182||Sr.||NR||NR||12||37.0||5.1%||1.5||0||0||3||0||0|
|Boye Aromire||SS||6'0, 200||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8609||12||30.5||4.2%||0.5||0||0||0||3||0|
|Tavon Young||CB||5'10, 174||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7600||12||22.5||3.1%||0||0||4||9||0||1|
|Nate L. Smith||FS||6'1, 185||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8684||11||10.5||1.4%||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Khiry Lucas||CB||6'2, 200||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7000||11||8.0||1.1%||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Anthony Davis||DB||5'11, 180||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8634||9||7.0||1.0%||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|Artrel Foster||DB||6'0, 170||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8106||12||4.5||0.6%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Cequan Jefferson||DB||5'10, 180||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8678||5||2.0||0.3%||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Shamir Bearfield||DB||5'11, 175||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8209|
|Jyquis Thomas||DB||6'1, 182||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7876|
|Kareem Ali, Jr.||CB||5'11, 175||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8711|
|Jeremiah Atoki||DB||6'2, 190||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8116|
8. Havoc in the back
Temple's defense seemed to play things conservatively, then ratchet up the aggressiveness as a half wore on. The Owls ranked 62nd and 94th in first- and third-quarter S&P+, then 20th and sixth in the second and fourth quarters.
The secondary's ability to prevent big plays was the defense's most important strength, but some newcomers made quite a few plays, and it made an immense difference. True freshman Sean Chandler was a sound tackler and occasional play-maker opposite the sticky Tavon Young, and JUCO transfer Alex Wells and Virginia Tech transfer Boye Aromire were immediate difference-makers at safety.
Five of the top seven returnees are seniors, to there will be a drop-off in 2016, but a) with four-star freshman Kareem Ali Jr. and redshirt freshman Shamir Bearfield, there is potential among the youngest players, and b) worry about 2016 in 2016. This secondary should be stellar.
|Alex Starzyk||6'3, 205||So.||70||38.4||4||26||17||61.4%|
|Jim Cooper||6'1, 195||Jr.||60||61.7||12||0||20.0%|
|Austin Jones||5'10, 190||So.||30-30||10-16||62.5%||3-6||50.0%|
|Tyler Mayes||6'2, 200||Sr.||2-2||2-2||100.0%||0-0||N/A|
|Jahad Thomas||KR||5'10, 170||Jr.||14||23.7||0|
|Khalif Herbin||KR||5'7, 170||Jr.||12||17.7||0|
|John Christopher||PR||5'10, 185||Sr.||8||3.0||0|
|Khalif Herbin||PR||5'7, 170||Jr.||7||15.4||1|
|Special Teams F/+||26|
|Field Goal Efficiency||108|
|Punt Return Efficiency||67|
|Kick Return Efficiency||105|
|Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency||25|
9. Now this is a coverage unit
Depth at linebacker and defensive back paid off. Temple had one of the best coverage units in college football. Opponents averaged 19 yards per kick return (28th in FBS) and 3 yards per punt return (fifth); Temple's punt efficiency was decent despite a low punting average (38.4 yards), and the Owls kickoff efficiency was spectacular (first in FBS).
The return game and place-kicking could stand to improve, but if the offense is more efficient, special teams should assure that Temple does well in field position.
2015 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Date||Opponent||2014 F/+ Rk|
|22-Oct||at East Carolina||61|
|14-Nov||at South Florida||123|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-8.6% (77)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||71 / 79|
|2014 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||3 / 1.1|
|2014 TO Luck/Game||+0.8|
|Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.)||19 (8, 11)|
|2014 Second-order wins (difference)||6.6 (-0.6)|
10. A schedule for a run (if you can ignore the names)
Temple ranked 67th in F/+ last year and returns almost everybody. That level of experience could produce a top-60 team and could quite possibly a top-50 team.
Now look at the schedule: five games against teams that ranked 119th or worse last year, no games against teams that ranked better than 34th, and four of the six best opponents (as of last year) coming to Lincoln Financial Field. Even if the Linc doesn't provide an immense advantage, playing at home is still better than playing on the road, yes?
If the Temple offense takes steps toward competence -- and while there is plenty of reason to worry about the passing game, the run game should indeed improve, perhaps by quite a bit -- the defense should be able to turn last year's close losses into wins.
I shouldn't go overboard, but it doesn't take many ifs to turn Temple into an AAC contender with this schedule. The pressure is on the offense, because the defense is loaded for bear. Temple should bowl again no matter what, but there could be a lot more than that at stake.