Since all of the Temple football practices are closed this spring, probably the best way to add an extra layer of secrecy to the whole deal is to hold the first day of spring practice during a time when the entire campus is distracted by March Madness.
It was a rainy day, but the long-term forecast is for a brighter few weeks ahead right until the spring game on April 16. Hopefully, that carries over to the field as well.
Even though the football’s official slogan is “Unfinished Business” another key word for spring practice is progression. Is this the year P.J. Walker makes the natural progression from freshman sensation to sophomore slump to junior game manager to major impact player?
I think so.
P.J. had a very similar season to his freshman year (20 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 9 games) to his junior year (19,8,14) and I look for him to drive those numbers up to 25 (or more) touchdowns. The more important number for P.J. though is to get to double-digits again as a winning quarterback and help the team lift those heavy post-season trophies, including a bowl one.
Hopefully, the Owls learned from a “fun” approach to the bowl game and will adjust that itinerary when the time comes to go bowling. While the Owls played air hockey, beach volleyball and bowling (in an alley), the only bowling Toledo seemed concerned about was between the white lines on game night. Even though the Toledo staff was gutted by the departure of Matt Campbell to Iowa State, there were enough holdovers who learned by experience that was the quickest route to winning was detouring around the fun and focusing on a businesslike approach.
Hopefully, the Owls will show a similar a progression from bowl one to bowl two as well.
On defense, do the Owls go to a 5-2 defense or do they have personnel better suited or a 3-4 (Averee Robinson playing the nose flanked by Sharif Finch and Praise Martin Oquike with four starting linebackers in Nick Sharga, Jared Alwan, Stephaun Marshall and Avery Williams)?
A couple of things to look for: Do the Owls make a bold move, switching Jahad Thomas from tailback to the slot and making room for Jager Gardner and Ryquell Armstead at the tailback position or do they stick with the status quo? An argument can be made for either move, but Thomas would definitely add an element of explosiveness to the downfield passing game that did not exist last year, even with Robby Anderson. It looked to me that Anderson lost a step in his return and the Owls could use a guy, like Jalen Fitzpatrick, who could run under a long bomb and stretch the field for a quick six from time to time.
Armstead and Gardner would be an interesting tailback battle. Numbers do not lie. In Gardner’s final high school season, he gained 2,776 yards on 266 carries with 36 touchdowns in just 11 games vs. Armstead’s 1,488 yards and 18 touchdowns in 12 games on 219 carries in his final high school year.
Giving P.J. those kind of weapons, in addition to tight ends Colin Thompson and Kip Patton, could finish the offensive progression this team started to make a year ago and take P.J. from game manager to game buster.