Any shot at picking a starting Temple “22” for football on Jan. 18th is a guessing game.
Mix in COVID and a fluid roster situation caused by the transfer portal and it’s really throwing darts but here we are on Jan. 18 and the first game is September and, just from the roster currently posted on Owlsports.com this morning and the transfers coming in, we’re going to be taking a shot.
WIDE RECEIVER _ Jadan Blue, Randle Jones and Amad Anderson. The fact that both Blue and Jones are still listed on the roster is really gratifying from my perspective. Jones is the fastest wide receiver we’ve seen at Temple since Travis Sheldon and Blue is on pace to break all of the Temple career records. Anderson is an accomplished Power 5 transfer who can play the slot. This should be the strength of the team.
QUARTERBACK _ D’Wan “Deuce” Mathis. Temple’s never had a quarterback transfer in who started a game for a Power 5 team, like alone the first game for a powerhouse SEC team so this is a no-brainer. Mathis has big shoes to fill, replacing a guy who tossed 44 touchdowns vs. 32 interceptions. Mathis will have to cut down on the INTS since he threw 3 to just a couple of touchdown passes. Whatever, Rod Carey’s read/option is more suited to Mathis’ skills than Anthony Russo’s.
RUNNING BACK _ Iverson Clement, the first four-star Temple running back since Juan Gaddy (at least coming in although you can say anyone who was a Heisman Trophy finalist, like Paul Palmer was, played like a five-star). He will undoubtedly be pushed by R’Von Bonner, who did more at Illinois than Clement did at Florida.
TIGHT END _ David Martin-Robinson. The redshirt junior-to-be is steady as they come and had five catches for 72 yards in the 2020 opener at Navy.
OL_ Michael Niese and Isaac Moore (G) and Vic Stoffel and Adam Klein (T) with C.J. Perez at center. That’s a big, experienced, group.
(For those counting, that’s 11.)
ENDS–Will Rodgers III and Manny Walker. Rodgers is a sackmeister from Washington State, who recently posted on twitter that he “loves Philadelphia.” If he puts quarterbacks on the ground at the same rate he did in Pullman, Philadelphia will no doubt love him back.
TACKLES–Xach Gill and Lancine Turay, two transfers from North Carolina. Kevin Robertson will push both players for time.
LINEBACKERS _ William Kwenkeu, Audrey Isaacs and Jordan McGee. Kwenkeu was the defensive MVP in the 2017 Gasparilla Bowl.
SAFETIES _ Amir Tyler and Trey Blair. Tyler is the senior leader and Blair will be a future playmaker and leader.
CORNERS _ Ty Mason and Freddie Johnson_ Two solid players. Mason took the year off from COVID (he didn’t have it but was just afraid of catching it) and should be well-rested, albeit rusty.
Rodgers, Walker, Gill, Turay=4; Kwenkeu, Isaacs, McGee 4+3=7; Tyler, Blair, Mason, Johnson=4-7=11.
Is this lineup good enough right now to beat Rutgers on opening day?
I would say no because we need two “Kwenkeu-level” linebackers to join William and more depth along the defensive and offensive lines.
Still, there’s no doubt that Temple has improved from the Temple we last saw in November and adding a couple of linebackers should go a long way to turn what is projected to be a losing season into a winning one.
Friday: A dream matchup that never happened