Maybe the oldest adage in sports is that statistics are for losers.
Not this year.
At least for Temple football.
That’s because for the Owls to post a winning season, a lot of the current players and leaders are going to have to post not only their best numbers but numbers significantly above what they’ve done in the past.
The good news is that there is some solid history among the single-digit players.
If, say, Jadan Blue can just surpass his numbers from the 2019 season (95 catches, over 1,000 yards, four touchdowns) that is really all the contribution he needs to make.
I think he can do it, particularly if Randle Jones stays healthy on the other side. (Meaning Blue won’t face double-coverage.)
If, say, Will Rodgers III can get the nine sacks in G5 ball that he took a couple of years to do on the P5 level, the Owls’ pass rush will be significantly improved and it needs to be.
The bad news is that there is no history of the most important players on the field putting up numbers.
Specifically, we’re talking about the most important position on the field: Quarterback.
Through very little fault of his own, D’Wan Mathis had more interceptions than touchdown passes in his brief stint as the Georgia starter last year. (We won’t say NO fault of his own because if Mathis threw five touchdown passes and over 300 yards in his first game as starter, he would have been the quarterback for the next week and maybe several weeks after that.)
To me, the key stats for a winning Temple season are simply this:
Mathis has to better Anthony Russo’s best year: 21 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions in 2019. Who knows? Maybe Mathis tosses 30 touchdowns and throws only eight interceptions but he’s going to have to have a career year either way.
Also, the running backs (presumably R’Von Bonner and Iverson Clement) have to put up Bernard Pierce-type numbers (1,500 yards and 25 touchdowns). Since that’s two guys and Pierce was just one, that should be doable since the Owls’ offensive line.
Also, it would be nice if the Owls were proactive on special teams (blocked kicks, punt returns like Delano Green’s) instead of being passive which they have been for the past two years under Rod Carey.
They’ve had no stats of note on special teams since Ed Foley left town.
That might be a lot to ask but when you are picked to win only two games, you’ve got to do a lot more than the pundits expect to get the results the fans want.
The benchmarks have been set and they are stats that translate into winning, not losing.
Friday: Starting gates