The good news today is that the “outside world” sees Temple football as improving under first-year head coach Stan Drayton.
The bad news is that the improvement is so incremental to be negligible.
We’re No. 119.
Last year we were No. 121.
As former co-defensive coordinator, Ola Adams has said many times on Twitter: “Start small and build.”
Going from No. 119 to 121 to starting too small and building too slow, but that’s where ESPN’s Bill Connelly projects the Owls to be in 2022.
Pretty sure those close to the program now aren’t expecting moving two spots up a 130-team FBS totem pole nor are we.
Still, it’s easy to see why the outside world feels that way.
The Owls have a roster good enough to only win three games under a head coach who was cancer in the locker room.
They’ve cut the cancer out, the roster has bought what the new guy is selling but is that good enough to move from 121 to 80?
Eighty isn’t asking for much because that’s how many teams make bowl games. Eighty out of 130 is the lower half of the second group of FBS teams. Temple should demand that even in an off-year. Yet everybody on the outside seems to think that’s a bridge too far for Temple after 1-6 and 3-9 seasons.
Another way to look at this is Connelly’s projections are usually solid and fact-based but he published a story earlier this month that projected linebacker George Reid as one of the Owls stars.
Two problems with that:
Reid gave up football last month and, while a nice player, I don’t know anyone in the program who said he was a “star” or even projected as one. I’m not all that sure he would even start if he came back.
Connelly never even mentioned a running back transfer from Texas A&M, Darvon Hubbard, who figures to be an immediate upgrade nor mention a Florida transfer at the same position, Iverson Clement, who fell out of favor with the prior staff and is back in the good graces of the new one. The Owls didn’t have a single home run hitter in the backfield last year. Now they have two.
They should be strong at linebacker and in the secondary and be decent on the offensive line. They need to upgrade the defensive line because they, quite frankly, stunk at getting after the quarterback and stopping the run.
In the era of the transfer portal, there are a lot of moving parts. There are still a bunch of good players in the portal now and, if Drayton feels the Owls have an area of need after spring practice, there are better players available.
Spring practice starts Friday and, while the outside evaluation of Temple is important, what the coaches decide about the roster this spring will dictate the results this fall.
If the outside world is right again, the Temple program is in a whole lot of trouble. The good news is that the inside world can do a lot to change perceptions between now and then.
Friday: Line Play