When you win a championship and have a group of guys who contributed much to that championship, the conventional thinking is that there is not much to prove.
For the Temple offensive line, though, there’s plenty.
You are only as good as your last game and, for the Owls, that wasn’t very good. True, much of what the offensive line did or did not do in a 34-26 loss to Wake Forest was due to an ill-advised offensive game plan. (The Owls ran a grand total of 16 running plays and 14 were to the right side. Meanwhile, on the left side, NFL second-rounder Dion Dawkins was holding up his hands and saying, “Hey, guys, I’m over here.”)
Still, would have liked to watch Jahad Thomas put his hand on Nick Sharga’s back as Sharga wiped out any Wake defender lead blocker Dawkins was not able to mow down.
That’s water under the bridge now, though.
At that point you did not wonder why Ed Foley went 7-15 sandwiched between two of the most successful head coaches in Fordham history, one the guy, Dave Clawson, who coached the pants off him that night.
Still, the right side of the line getting dominated by Wake physically has to be the biggest concern going into the season.
The only key departures are Dawkins and center Brendan McGowan.
The starting lineup, like with quarterbacks, is a work in progress but it appears that redshirt freshman Matt Hennessy is a future star at center and Leon Johnson will be a fixture at tackle. I had one ex-Temple offensive lineman tell me that Hennessy already reminds him of Dick Beck in the way he played and said that he is the Owls’ next great center.
Brian Carter, who started the 2014 game against UCF at DEFENSIVE tackle, is in the mix for one of the guard spots and Cole Boozer, a redshirt senior, could be the other tackle depending upon whether head coach Geoff Collins is more comfortable with the more experienced Johnson at LT to protect, say, Logan Marchi’s blindside.
Collins set the spring as an opportunity for what he calls “position flexibility” so just about every offensive lineman can be counted on as a backup or starter at every other OL position. In addition to those just mentioned, Adrian Sullivan, a redshirt senior, is in the mix as well as redshirt sophomores Benson Israel and Jovahn Fair. Darian Bryant, a redshirt freshman from Chestnut Hill Academy, should see his first significant time. Another highly regarded recruit, Aaron Ruff, has been an enigma so far but could turn into a factor down the line. There are others down the depth chart who may be above or below the line.
The bottom line is that the starters will be a pretty experienced group but there is work to be done filling in the backup spots.
Whatever happens, that last ugly game has to be washed out of the Big Uglies’ mouths and the sooner the better.
Monday: The Gold Standard
Wednesday: Beginner’s Luck
Friday: 5 Training Camp Questions