Temple football got off to a slow start in the post-Matt Rhule era.
First-year head coach Geoff Collins began his tenure with three wins and fives losses as he worked to get more out of an offense and defense that both featured a good amount of potential but weren’t exactly operating like well-oiled machines. The Owls looked like a squad that was trying to find its footing after consecutive 10-win seasons that saw Rhule depart for Baylor and nine players move on to the NFL.
Would Temple continue to build on the good things Rhule developed in North Philadelphia, or would they regress to the norm?
It feels like more of the former rather than the latter, and it started last November with a solid home win over a decent Navy program. Quarterback Frank Nutile, who took over for Logan Marchi one game prior, put in a fantastic four touchdown performance, going 22-30 with 289 passing yards on the day. The defense limited Navy’s patented rushing attack to 136 yards on 52 carries, and the 34-26 win put the Owls back on track to qualify for a third straight bowl game.
They went on to win two of their final three, knocking off Cincinatti and Tulsa on the road and going on to smother Butch Davis and his FIU Panthers 28-3 in the Gasparilla Bowl.
It really was a nice turnaround for a team that looked more than pedestrian in September and October, struggling to carve out an identity through the first half of the schedule.
Now the Owls are back on stable ground, and you’ve got a program coming into 2018 with plenty of positives:
- a second year head coach with experience under his belt
- a serviceable starting quarterback
- the return of running back Ryquell Armstead and wide receiver Isaiah Wright
- a first round NFL prospect in safety Delvon Randall, who might be the best defensive player in the AAC
- a navigable front-end schedule with winnable out-of-conference games
Nutile ended up playing about half of the 2017 season and put up 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions with a 61.3 completion percentage. A look at his numbers, along with the top ball carriers and receivers:
On the other end of the spectrum, the question marks are fairly standard: