Almost a year ago, Geoff Collins got up at the season ticket holder’s party and praised his “dark side” defense, saying that it would be one of the best defensive units in the country.
Like a lot of things that came out of Collins’ mouth, it was promised hype that never materialized.
Not because of talent, because the talent was there but because the talent was often lined up out of position in the hopes of creating pressures that would cause fumbles and interceptions. What it did cause more often than not were gashes in the defense that allowed runners huge chunks of yardage and points on the scoreboard. The pass defense was OK, but the run defense was not.
Temple was rated 47th in total defense, one behind Georgia Tech and one ahead of North Texas. That’s the definition of mediocre. Worse, it gave up 45 points to Boston College, 52 to UCF and 57 to Duke.
That’s not the kind of gang-tackling defense Temple fans got used to seeing under Matt Rhule and Al Golden and it probably won’t be the kind of defense they will be seeing going forward.
For the Owls to have a championship season in 2019, they must do better and there is every indication they will.
It all starts up front as defensive end starters Dana Levine, Quincy Roche, and Zack Mesday return and Karamo Dioubate and Dan Archibong provide a solid duo in the middle. The linebackers are both good and deep with Shaun Bradley and Chapelle Russell joined by William Kwenkew, Sam Franklin and Isaiah Graham-Mobley. In fact, the linebacker room is so crowded that Franklin–who has experience both at DE and safety–might have to be moved to strong safety to better utilize his exceptional talent.
Corners are solid with Linwood Crump Sr., Christian Braswell, and Ty Mason and the safety core that already included Benny Walls and Keyvone Bruton was bolstered by the addition of Penn State portal transfer Ayron Monroe, who played in all 12 regular-season games for the Nittany Lions last year.
This is a lock-down group coached by a staff that believes in lock-down defensive principles. NIU traveled to BYU and won, 7-6, last season (see video at the top of this post). That was the same BYU team that won at Wisconsin. While the Huskies had talent and finished seven spots ahead of Temple in overall defense, new coach Rod Carey and his defensive staff have a lot more talent to work with here than there. Carey believes in sound base defense. It puts a premium on being in position over getting turnovers.
The days of those gouging runs against the Temple defense that we saw for the last two years may be over.
Instead, get ready for the gang-tackling Temple defense we all know and love.
Saturday: Measuring Up