We’re No. 6!!!! (Or Not)

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I’ll put my money down on this when I see Temple on the cover.

This is usually about the time I walk down the aisles of my local Giant and Weis Markets peruse the covers of the various college football guides.

Flipping about a third of the way through for most of them is where you come to the sections on AAC.

Most of them have the Temple football Owls, a successful program for over a decade by G5 standards, ranked No. 6 in the toughest G5 conference.

I’m not buying it. (Not just the magazine but the premise.)

IF … and that’s indeed an IF there is a next season with the current uptick in the health scare, Temple will not be No. 6. The Owls might not be No. 1 but I would put money on them being closer to No. 1 than No. 6 and that’s based on an objective look at the talent on the roster.

The reason is simple.

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I’ve seen the Owls ranked as high as No. 4 (Underdog Dynasty) to as low as No. 8 here (The Breakdown). Most of the major magazines have the Owls at No. 6 in the AAC.

The Owls have an outstanding offensive line, a first-team freshman All-American running back in Ray Davis and two great … and I’m NOT using hyperbole when I write this … wide receivers in Branden Mack and Jadan Blue. The stats are there for all to see. Blue not only led the Owls in catches (95), but he ranks No. 1 among all Owls of all time in that category in a single season. That covers a lot of ground, both figuratively and literally, considering Leslie Shephard and Steve Watson were outstanding receivers in the NFL. Despite that, Mack–a complementary 6-5 receiver to Blue’s 6-1–caught more touchdown passes (7-4).

Quarterback Anthony Russo is on target to break all but two of P.J. Walker’s Temple career records (yards and touchdown passes). IF he makes the same kind of improvement from junior year to senior (14 touchdowns, 14 interceptions to 21-12), he has an outside shot at collecting all of the records. How outstanding would that be? P.J. played four years; Anthony only three.

The returning interior defensive line is really good, led by Dan Archibong and Ifeanyi Maijeh. Some transfers and recruits have bolstered the interior wall so moving Archibong out to his original position (end) should be an option to help with the outside rush.

The Owls have one linebacker returning who was a bowl game MVP (William Kwenkeu) and another (Isaiah Graham-Mobley) who just might be a better NFL prospect than Eagles’ No. 5 pick Shaun Bradley. He was certainly on par with Bradley until he got injured halfway through the 2019 season.

Corners Christian Braswell, Ty Mason, and Linwood Crump Jr. are back and have had plenty of experience. Two (Braswell and Mason) have pick 6s in AAC games. Amir Tyler is a pretty good safety.

Plus, in head coach Rod Carey‘s seven years as head coach (six at NIU), he has never won fewer than eight games. He’s been able to plug enough holes and identify them to sustain excellence.

This is not a sixth-place team. It may not be the first-place one, either, as Cincinnati and UCF have more talent on paper, but it is one with a perception problem on the national scale fueled by a couple of dud bowl games.

Right now, perception is everything until the Owls have a chance to get on the field and prove the magazines wrong. Let’s hope they have a chance to do so.

Monday: That’s What I’m Talking About Willis

Saturday (7/11): You can’t really go home again

Monday (7/13): An idea that makes too much sense

Friday (7/18): Best of TFF (our annual one-week vacation begins)

 

6 thoughts on “We’re No. 6!!!! (Or Not)

  1. Russo’s mobility is crucial, Carey rounded up some good transfers to give stumbling Tony some time. An armstrong QB must run for an occasional first down or step up in the pocket to avoid the rush and find the open receiver.

  2. The number one criterion this college season regarding every teams’ prospects is how many starters are returning because of the cut down in work out and practice time caused by the virus. Starters need less time to get up too speed and their experience will carry them through rough spots. Based on that I think the Owls will be good this season especially because they have a qb, two receivers, and a running back, who will be bigger and stronger this season, returning. If Carey can forget his ego and modify the O and make play action passing a mainstay of the offense the Owls have a chance to be very good.

  3. I would think that the only thing for certain is the bottom three teams. One through eight is a toss-up.

    Temple can finish almost anywhere. While I agree that 8th is not likely, are any of the seven teams on this list significantly worse than Temple that we should be insulted?

    • I can definitely see the Owls finishing behind Navy, UCF and Cincy (not necessarily in that order) but with Memphis having a new coach and Houston not showing me much under Dana Holgersen and SMU losing a lot of talent, I would be very surprised if the Owls finished behind any of those teams. Realistically, No. 3 is more likely than No. 6. A school I can definitely see jumping them is Tulane but, in a best-case scenario, I can also see the Owls jumping Cincy but maybe UCF is a bridge too far.

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