Crunching Leadership Numbers

More leaders coming back in these 32 seconds than have left.

A few weeks ago, someone broached a question about who the leaders will be on the 2017 Temple football team.

It was a fair question because a couple of leaders left on offense and a couple of more left on defense in Jahad Thomas and P.J. Walker and Haason Reddick and Nate Hairston.

The answer lies in the numbers.



This (left) more than made up for that (right).



Or, in this case, the number because the returning single-digit guys—particularly Nick Sharga and Ventell Byrant on offense and Jacob Martin and Champ Chandler on defense—are natural-born leaders and provide enough quantity to go along with the quality.

It’s no coincidence that Thomas, Walker and Reddick were single-digit guys and there is no law against any of the other guys assuming leadership roles, as No. 15 Hairston did by locking down one corner.

Anyone who thinks there is a dearth of leadership on the 2017 team should be disabused of that notion.

All you had to do was look at the widely viewed tape of “The Drive” when Bryant not only caught three clutch passes in 32 seconds against UCF, but staggered to his position just before the final play from scrimmage. Any other player would have been so hurt he remained down but, even though he was groggy he had enough sense to realize that if he had stayed down, there would have been a 10-second runoff and Temple would have lost the game.

That’s leadership.

That presence of mind led to the latest single-digit guy, Keith Kirkwood, who saw a ball in the air and knew he had to catch or the game was over. Kirkwood made a great catch in the back of the end zone and the Owls were on their way to a seven-game winning streak.

Kirkwood, Bryant and Adonis Jennings, among others, give the Owls what I feel is their best receiving corps since Van Johnson and Troy Kersey were on the same team.

On defense, with Chandler in the middle of the field for a full season and Martin and Sharif Finch creating Mayhem in the pocket on defense, the Owls are in good shape.

At this point, it should be fun watching this team develop their own identity between now and opening day.


Friday:  Month of Mayhem


The Cavalry is Coming: Kirkwood and Thompson

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Navy

Keith Kirkwood’s last action was this touchdown reception against Navy in November. He only became eligible when Hawaii coach Norm Chow granted him his release last week, something Joe Paterno refused to do for Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele. Kirkwood gives Temple a terrific 1-2 punch at wide receiver with Jalen Fitzpatrick.

If Colonel Reno would have been close enough with his 7th Cavalry Brigade to save General Custer, the battle at Little Big Horn might have went the other way.

The Cavalry might not have been on the way for Custer, but it certainly is coming for head coach Matt Rhule and the Temple Owls in the form of impact players Colin Thompson and Keith Kirkwood. Football is often a battle of attrition, with the teams who win conference championships many times being the ones who suffer the fewest losses of starters due to injury.

Almost never do you hear of teams adding new players midway through the season who can make an immediate impact, but that’s the case with Temple adding five-star SEC tight end recruit Thompson and four-star wide receiving recruit Kirkwood. Both got spot duty for the Owls recently, but now appear to be ready to make a full-time impact on Friday night against Houston. Both have been declared eligible. Thompson is a transfer from Florida and Kirkwood is a transfer from Hawaii.

As John Kerry once said, “Help is on the way.”

It could have have come soon enough or at two positions of need. The Owls have not had a playmaking tight end this year or a tall wide receiver who reminds anyone of Robbie Anderson.

Thompson and Kirkwood could fill both needs and Temple will only have to wait a couple of days to find out if this Cavalry has arrived just in time to win this AAC football war. In fact, if you listen hard enough, you can hear the bugle call now: