From the way things look at the Edberg-Olson Complex, summer football practice began a long time ago.
Still, new head coach Geoff Collins has set the “official” start of practice for Monday, which coincides with Media Day. There are still some unresolved questions left over from spring practice and among them are these:
- Can The Coordinators Do The Job?
This is a question that the fans will not know for sure until September, but one that Geoff Collins should know by now. Taver Johnson has never been given these kind of reins at the FBS level, where he has been a position coach exclusively. However, Temple fans can take some solace in the fact that they have the best DC in the SEC as their head coach. Collins will be able to find the right buttons to push should Johnson’s hands stray. Dave Patenaude is a proven FCS product, but sometimes that does not translate to this level. He will get more benefit of the doubt than Johnson, though, simply because he has produced points in bundles.
- Will the OL be Temple TUFF?
A lot of things went wrong in a 34-26 loss to Wake Forest in the Military Bowl, but the most alarming thing might have been the way the Temple offensive line was pushed around. They did not get any help from a defensive coaching staff that missed eight practices to recruit for Baylor and put them in a 31-6 hole. That meant a lot of pass blocking and very little run-blocking and WF head coach Dave Clawson saw that flaw and exploited it. Still, they have to become a lot tougher by the Notre Dame game.
- What role will Jager Gardner play?
Everyone knows that Ryquell Armstead will be one of, if not THE, best backs in the AAC but the Owls have a Diamond in the rough in Gardner, who has a world of talent. Will he slide into the role that Jahad Thomas played or will that role fall to Tyliek Raynor? This is a position worth watching, especially if Nick Sharga is back there for his minimum 15 plays to block for those guys again.
- Who Will Emerge at Linebacker?
The Owls have an overabundance of good-to-great defensive linemen (really, two-deep at every position) and are set at the four secondary positions with some high-end talent. At linebacker, however, they have lost all three starters. One of the solutions for Collins and Johnson would be to switch from a 4-3 to a 5-2 to get another great player on the field and mitigate losses at linebacker. Another would be for three players to emerge as suitable replacements for Avery Williams, Steph Marshall and Jared Alwan. Since Jared Folks split time with Alwan at the end of the season, he’s the logical top choice. The other two spots are wide open. I vote for Sharga being the Owls’ 2017 version of Holy Cross’ Gordie Lockbaum, playing 15 plays on offense and 15 plays on defense. The best fullback in the country probably is also the best linebacker on the team and by a good bit.
- Who Will Be Under Center?
We all know the center will be Matt Hennessy, but under center is the top question of camp. The first two guys on the field to celebrate the AAC championship were Anthony Russo and Frank Nutile, but Todd Centeio and Logan Marchi have an equal shot. Centeio would really benefit from a redshirt year, as Collins would be wise to study what happened to the last true freshman Temple threw on the field at Notre Dame, kicker Jim Cooper, Jr. Coop was spooked by what happened when he missed two chip shot field goals and an extra point—after kicking great all summer—and Collins would not want to be responsible for ruining Centeio’s career by throwing him to the wolves that early.
Monday: Media Day Primer for Coach Collins
Wednesday: Analyzing Media Day Answers
Friday: Where Are They Now, Recruit Edition