Temple 2013 season preview



Temple has been a sad-sack college football program for a long time, but had enjoyed a rebirth of sorts from 2009-2011, winning a combined 26 games -- the best three-season stretch in school history, dating back to 1894. Temple had a combined five players selected in the 2011 and 2012 NFL drafts, the most by the school in a two-year stretch since 1987-88. But the Owls suffered through a losing season last fall -- their 19th in the past 22 years -- and didn't have a player selected in the 2013 draft. They seem destined to have another losing season this fall, and then have no one selected in the 2014 draft.

There are some underclassmen who should garner interest in the next few years, but the cupboard is bare this fall. The offense is a huge concern, as there are no proven playmakers on a unit making the switch from a power-running group to more of a pro-style attack. The defense was a sieve last season, and though there are six starters back, that's not necessarily a good thing. If new coach Matt Rhule -- who was an assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants last season -- coaxes even a .500 record out of this squad, he deserves a national coach of the year mention.

Top senior prospects

DT Levi Brown: Brown (6-foot-2, 300 pounds) will be a three-year starter at nose tackle. He strictly is a run-stuffer who holds his ground well in the middle of the line.

Top underclassmen

LB Tyler Matakevich: He started as a true freshman last season and was named the Big East's rookie of the year. Matakevich (6-1, 230) has good instincts but lacks quickness. Still, he led the team with 101 tackles, becoming the first freshman in school history with a triple-digit tackle total. His play against the run is his strongest asset, but his coverage ability remains a question.

C Kyle Friend: Friend (6-2, 305) started nine times as a true freshman last season, with five starts at guard and four at center late in the season. He is expected to start at center this fall. He's a physical player who needs to show he can be solid in pass protection.

DT Averee Robinson: Robinson (6-1, 285) is a true freshman. He enrolled in January and impressed the new coaching staff enough in spring practice to head into fall drills as a starter. He originally signed with Temple in February 2012, but attended prep school last fall before re-signing with the Owls. Coaches like his quickness and toughness. His brother, Adrian, is a former Owls defensive end who played with the Pittsburgh Steelers last season.

Three must-see games of 2013

Aug. 31 at Notre Dame: How good is Temple's defensive line? We should get an idea in this season opener against the Irish's talented spread attack.

Oct. 5 vs. Louisville:The Cardinals beat the Owls by 28 points last season -- and Louisville looks even better this season. This is another chance for Temple's defenders to gain some attention, as Louisville will have the best offense in the AAC.

Nov. 2 at Rutgers: Rutgers has a talented offensive line, giving Brown and Robinson, especially, a chance to impress scouts.

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