Since Temple rosters are best read like newspapers, holding them in your hand and not viewing them on a laptop, I hit print and eagerly awaited to put thumb to paper looking for new names and hoping no old ones were missing.
Much to my surprise and delight, for the first time I can recall, there were no subtractions.
Even someone who I thought might not be on the roster, true freshman Tyliek Raynor, is right there. (Really cannot count Kip Patton in this because his departure was known before the fall roster was updated.)
This is a testament to head coach Matt Rhule’s process.
The bottom line is that this might be the deepest team in Temple history, deep at every position except the most important one—quarterback. The Owls can afford a season-ending injury (and let’s hope they have none) at every position but, if they lose P.J., err, Phillip Walker, it’s hard to see them winning 11 or 12. So light some candles for Phillip.
Fortunately, my early-summer candle lighting worked for other players, notably defensive tackle Greg Webb. The two-time Hutchinson (Kansas) Junior College first-team All-American was not on the roster until this week, which leads me to believe he did well academically in Temple summer sessions. That’s important because he will have to be a contributor along the interior of the defensive front with returners Averee Robinson and Freddy Booth-Lloyd.
I like the fact that Sean Chandler is now listed as a safety for a couple of reasons. One, his break on the ball is sensational and that’s a trait better suited to the middle of the field than the corner of it. Two, in part-time duty, both Artrel Foster and Nate Hairston performed admirably at opposite corners last year. Now it is full-time duty. Hairston is the fastest man on the team and has been since Khalif Herbin departed for medical reasons. Chandler showed some speed deficiencies in the bowl game when he let No. 25 of Toledo—not exactly a Travis Sheldon—get behind him for a touchdown.
In other words, trading Chandler to the middle of the field strengthens both the middle of the field and the corners. It’s a trade that will help both ballclubs, somewhat like the Cole Hamels for Jake Thompson trade the Phillies made a year ago.
Good depth is available at the corners in redshirt freshman Kareem Ali and Derrick Thomas, who is probably the fastest 6-foot-6 man ever to play at Temple. (The slowest was the late great Walt Montford of the basketball program.) Look for Thomas to play some red-zone corner and be an effective counter to the corner fade pass.
Wednesday: We’re Talkin’ Practice