This post is best-prefaced by saying the real football-related questions Temple fans have are always answered by the second game of the season.
There are few questions even answered by the first game as a team makes its leap to good or bad by how it improves between game one and two.
If you judged Temple by its first game last year, you might have thought the Owls were headed closer to the AAC basement than its penthouse. By game two, the Owls straightened out a lot of their problems.
That said, some questions have to be answered by the first game because the coaches have to submit a depth chart to the sports information office by the Notre Dame game. So if you are looking for the questions part of the football equation, here are five to ponder:
What Are The Owls Doing About the Linebackers?
A year ago, the pundits who were looking from afar said the Owls would be screwed by the loss of National Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Matakevich. The people closer to the team said not so fast. Now it appears the Owls have taken a bigger hit by losing their three starting linebackers. Still, Jared Folks saw plenty of playing time at that position and Shawn Bradley was recently awarded a single digit (8), so maybe the Owls are better off than some think. If they go to a 5-2 defense, they might.
Did the OL Get Any Better?
The offensive line did pretty much a stellar job throughout the AAC championship run but got handled in the Military Bowl game against Wake Forest. A lot of that was the incredibly poor coaching that the Owls displayed that night—running to the right when their NFL draft pick was on the left side—but still that NFL pick will be gone in the fall. The Owls have to show toughness by Notre Dame.
Who Will Replace Jahad Thomas?
Since Ryquell Armstead and Jahad Thomas each had 918 yards rushing from scrimmage a year ago and Armstead is back, the Owls will not have to replace Armstead. They will, however, have to replace Thomas and Jager Gardner—who still holds the Temple record for longest run from scrimmage—appears to be that guy. If both Armstead and Gardner get 918 yards from scrimmage, chances are Geoff Collins will sign for that now.
What Does Mayhem Look Like?
This is probably the question that will be closest to answered by Saturday. There will be plenty of “Mayhem Is Coming” T-Shirts being sold on Saturday, so bring money. If the Owls’ defense brings more pass rushers than opposition can block, then you will have a sense of Mayhem. What Collins has done in the past is to hit the quarterback early and often and create fumbles and interceptions. If there’s a sense of that happening on Saturday, you have your answer.
Who Will Play Quarterback?
New offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said Owl fans should not worry about the quarterback position because he has a variety of good choices. Owl fans are worrying because the only quarterbacks Patenaude has seen before coming here played at places like Georgetown and Coastal Carolina. The battle appears to be down to Logan Marchi and Anthony Russo now, and Owl fans will get a feel for both players on Saturday.
Friday: What Are They Saying