With a dismal 2013 football season in the rear view mirror for the Temple Owls, who finished 2-10 overall and 1-7 in the new American Athletic Conference, there are still quite a few issues that face the Owls football team.
As coach Matt Rhule enters his second season at the helm, his staff needs to focus on the issue of their poor defensive backs as well as an unreliable kicker. Six of Temple’s ten losses came late in the game, losing by only a touchdown or less.
The Owls’ defensive backs became lackadaisical and would ultimately give the opposing team big yardage when the game mattered most.
The most devastating loss for the Owls and their defensive backs was versus #17 in the country, the University of Central Florida. Quarterback Blake Bortles found wide receiver Rannell Hall for a 64-yard completion with just 28 seconds left to secure a game-winning field goal for UCF.
Temple’s defensive coordinator Phil Snow should consider shifting his defense to a 3-4 style. This would give the Owls four linebackers and four defensive backs in the secondary to help with speedy wide receivers.
The help by the strong and free safeties would be crucial late in games when Temple seems to struggle the most.
In regards to the issue of poor kicking for the Owls, coach Rhule needs to sit down with kickers Nick Visco and Jim Cooper, who will both be sophomores next year. The coach needs to let them know that if they want to keep their positions, they need to prove it.
Visco, who came in when the struggles of Cooper continued early in the season, missed 3 PATs and 2 FG’s, both within the 20-29 yard range. Cooper missed 2 PATs and all 3 of his FG attempts, ultimately reducing his role to strictly the kickoff man.
Cooper, who fared well in high school as a kicker, needs to prove to coach Rhule that last season was a fluke and he can handle the pressures of being a college football kicker, or he can find himself sticking to being the one designated for kickoffs.
An issue that has popped up for the Owls football team that does not involve a player or coach necessarily is that of funds for the Temple football team.
Temple plays their home games at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. Temple University pays around $1 million to play their home games there. The issue is that since Temple is paying this much and the team is not performing to their expectation, this causes the school to lose money which contributed to cutting 7 sport teams.
What should be done, until Temple can prove to be a top team in their conference, is move out of the Linc to save money for the university and recruit more talented players. President Neil Theobald has mentioned to play home games at Penn’s Franklin Field to start saving some money, which I believe is a good idea for the team until they can prove it is worth $1 million dollars for the university to dish out.