|No truth to the rumor that was Holy Water poured on Chuck Heater last year.|
There’s a lot of uncertainty upon entering the Big East season for Temple’s football team.
Lack of talent is not one of them, though.
On Friday, after the 13th practice of the season, head coach Steve Addazio made clear that “I like our personnel” and that there is plenty of talent to sustain and build upon the level of success of the last three years.
|Chuck Heater won’t have to be a miracle-worker with this group of Owls.|
While there are significant losses in the areas of offensive line, the team is pretty well set at most other positions.
Even talented tailback Bernard Pierce, who figures to go now lower than the third round of this year’s NFL draft, finished second on the team in all-purpose yards to his replacement, Matty “Rock” Brown. In the true spread that Addazio plans to run with talented (and unbeaten) quarterback Chris Coyer at the helm, you can make a pretty good argument that Rock is a more effective college back.
The credit for much of this talent still goes to former head coach Al Golden, who made a practice of stockpiling prospects by redshirting most of his incoming freshmen. That was part of Golden’s “core values” of building a “house of brick, not straw.”
In each of his final two seasons, Golden redshirted no less than 16 of his 25 incoming signees.
Many of those guys will play significant roles with the 2012 Owls.
“The reason I redshirted at Temple so much,” Golden told a Miami-area newspaper recently, “was that I was committed to building a program. That’s the way the so-called powerhouse programs do it. We weren’t able to do that the first couple of years, but we were able to do it by the time I left. I want to do the same thing [at Miami].”
Addazio doesn’t believe in redshirting as much as Golden did, but that doesn’t mean he won’t benefit from it.
In many positions, even ones where high-profile starters left, there could be a talent upgrade from last year.
Take the case of tight Alex Jackson.
Jackson, another redshirt, split starting time with Evan Rodriguez two years ago.
“I think of our all tight ends last year he had the highest end [talent],” Addazio said. “He wasn’t ready to play last year, but now he is and that’s going to show.”
Even on the offensive line, if you count Jackson’s starts from two years ago and Sean Boyle’s starts from two years ago and Martin Wallace starting all last year, that’s three returning offensive line starting caliber players and that’s pretty good. Also, Big 33 recruit Adam Metz benefited from a redshirt year (thanks, Al Golden) and is ready to compete for his spot. These are quality offensive linemen.
On defense, there is plenty of talent along the line with John Youboty, Levi Brown, Kadeem Custis, Kamal Johnson, Marcus Green and Sean Daniels all returning. All have started games in the past. Two starting linebackers, Blaze Caponegro and Ahkeem Smith, return, as does Olaniyi Adewole, who got considerable playing time last year as a sub. Starting strong safety Justin Gildea returns, as does his backup, Chris Hutton. Starting free safety Kevin Kroboth is gone, but one-time five-star recruit Vaughn Carraway was his backup last year and should slide right into that spot without a drop in production.
At the corners, last year’s true freshman, Anthony Robey, was a lock-down cover specialist and starter until he got hurt midway into the season but is looking in top form in practice. Zamel Johnson also started at corner, but he is being pushed by Rutgers’ transfer Abdul Smith. Maurice Jones, who got plenty of playing time, is also in the corner mix.
Temple defensive coordinator Chuck Heater was called “Mother Teresa” by no less an authority than Urban Meyer for his work as DC of the Florida defense two years ago.
Addazio could have called Heater the same thing last year the way he pieced together a Temple defense that lost seven starters from 2010 into the third-best defense in the nation (behind only Alabama and LSU) in 2011.
Heater won’t have to work a miracle for Temple’s defense this year because he’s got more capable parts already in place to have a defense that keeps the Owls in every game.
The same can be said for the rest of the team as well and that’s doesn’t even count the reinforcements from the calvary who arrive (hello, Kevin Newsome, Jamie Gilmore and company) in July.
Aug. 31 can’t come soon enough.
To borrow a phrase from Mr. T, I pity the fool called Villanova.
Hopefully, a blowout there starts an avalanche of similar good results for Temple fans the rest of the fall.