A week ago, we mentioned in this space that you’d have to have a pretty strong pair of Cherry and White-colored glasses to think a 1-6 team transformed itself into a winning one this offseason.
Maybe we were wrong so we went to the mat and went over the 2021 schedule game by game.
If you think by adding a quarterback from Georgia (who is charged with replacing a top four all-time Temple quarterback) and a couple of Power 5 running backs are going to do the trick, those are pretty strong glasses.
There is hope, though.
Five impact players still to be added can move the needle from a two- or four-win 2021 season to a six-win one. What do we mean by impact players? Guys who’ve started and excelled on a Power 5 team. Defensive linemen who have multiple sacks and tackles for losses. Defensive backs with interceptions and multiple starts. Difficult to get those kinds of guys? Yes. Impossible? With over 1,600 and counting players in the portal still, hardly. Unless Temple gets five of those types, I don’t see a significant uptick in wins in 2021.
It’s that simple.
In hopes of eating my words come December (and will only if the 2021 Owls post a WINNING season), here is a sobering look at what will probably happen with this current group of players:
Rutgers 31, Temple 14 _ Rutgers seems to have turned it around under former coach Greg Schiano who, like Al Golden at Temple, is a proven winner at his former place of employment. If Temple loses this one, it will go to show how far Temple has fallen from a team that beat Maryland (20-17) in 2019 to losing to a team that same Maryland team beat (48-7).
Temple 21, Akron 14 _ This could easily be a loss as the Zips closed out last season impressively, with a 31-3 win over Bowling Green, whose head coach in that game was former Temple offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, but you’ve got to believe the Temple program is better than the Zips and I believe that there is enough holdover talent to get this done.
Boston College 34, Temple 23 _ If Isaiah Graham Mobley and Khris Banks make game-changing plays in this one, that will be a real kick in the nuts.
Temple 38, Wagner 7 _ The last time Wagner played an AAC team it lost “only” 21-14 but that was UConn so it didn’t count.
Cincinnati 38, Temple 0 _ Cincy has had four of the last five top AAC recruiting classes. In the same time frame, the best Temple can do is finishing in the middle of the recruiting pack. It’s not the X’s and O’s, it’s the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s.
ECU 28, Temple 3 _ Temple has only slightly improved from last year’s 28-3 loss but arguably ECU has also improved so it’s a potential wash.
Houston 31, Temple 10 _ The Cougars get revenge for a 59-49 loss to Temple when the Owls had a running back good enough to score six touchdowns in the game (and a commitment to the run that enabled him to do it).
Memphis 41, Temple 29 _ The Owls had Anthony Russo at quarterback when they were able to put up 29 points on Memphis last year. If Duece Mathis is as good as advertised, he will at least be able to match the output.
Navy 34, Temple 31 _ So far, the Temple coaching staff has only faced two triple option teams, Army in the early NIU days and Navy last year. They haven’t figured out a way to stop the triple option in over a decade. Maybe they should have the Air Force, Army and BYU staffs visit the E-O for a chalkboard session. Since Pride Goeth Before the Fall, I don’t anticipate that happening so Navy scores over 30 again.
UCF 38, Temple 17 _ Instead of trying for a touchdown on fourth and goal at the two for a 38-21 loss, Rod Carey goes for the field goal to cover the spread. The boos from the smattering of 4,345 fans at Lincoln Financial Field are palpable.
Tulsa 44, Temple 7 _ The Golden Hurricane prove that a school with 3,764 full-time students can beat a school with 40,000 full-time students if the right ratio of those students are big-time football players.
USF 39, Temple 31 _ USF lost at Temple last year, 39-37, when its quarterback inexplicably put the ball on the carpet at his own five. People usually learn by painful mistakes like that.
There you have it. Unless five impact players walk in the door between now and April, Temple is staring at a 2-10 season. Five impact players can help the Owls pick off the USF, Memphis, Navy and maybe Houston games but the Jimmy’s and Joe’s aren’t there now, nor are the X’s and O’s.
Don’t say the coaching staff hasn’t been warned.
Monday: Back to the Future