Temple Cherry & White Game: Takeaways

What did Temple's Cherry & White game show this early?Last Saturday, at the Edberg-Olsen Football Complex, Temple fans and Alumni got a preview of the 2013 version of Temple Owls football. More importantly, though, they got a preview of what Matt Rhule will bring to the table as the new coach. Last week’s Cherry & White game preview highlighted three different positions to pay close attention to during the game. Each of these positions are of particular importance heading into Rhule’s first season as coach, as the developments at these positions may have a significant impact on the team’s overall success.

First and foremost, the team desperately needs more production out of it’s defensive line in 2013 after a less than stellar 2012 season. Secondly, the revolving door at Quarterback must be closed after years of utilizing an underperforming Quarterback carousel. Lastly, with all of the monster production Temple has received from Bernard Pierce, Montel Harris and Matt Brown, is there someone on the current roster who can attempt to fill their shoes? Below, we take what we have learned from last Saturday’s spring game and try to provide an answer to these questions.

1. Defensive Line – The defensive line last year lacked quality depth and star power. To be successful on defense, new names need to emerge as leaders and star players similar to how Muhammad Wilkerson, Terrance Knighton and Adrian Robinson had in previous years. Last year, freshman Hershey Walton emerged as a playmaker and has continued this spring as he entered the final spring practice as the starter at defensive tackle heading into his sophomore year. Although, he did not stand out at the actual game, it is encouraging that sophomore Shahbaz Ahmed emerged this spring and currently sits atop the depth chart at defensive end opposite senior Sean Daniels. Perhaps the most encouraging sign, though, was the performance of incoming freshman Averee Robinson. Averee, the brother of former Temple standout Adrian, has stood out to coaches throughout the spring but made his impact felt in a big way on Saturday with four Quarterback sacks. One scrimmage certainly doesn’t provide a detailed view of the upcoming season, but four sacks in any atmosphere is positive sign for a defense.

2. Quarterback – Last Saturday showed Temple fans and alumni something they have not seen since the days of Adam DiMichele, a real live throwing Quarterback. After riding the bench for his first three years at Temple, Connor Reilly has emerged as the clear leader in the Quarterback competition heading into summer camp. The Owls on both sides of the scrimmage threw the ball early and often and did it with success. Reilly finished the game 25 of 41 for 366 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Outside of the stats, though, Reilly showed poise in the pocket with ability to step up and run when under pressure and displayed excellent arm strength in getting the ball downfield. With obvious questions at the position heading into the summer, Reilly showed the fans exactly what they needed to see. If he continues to develop and work further into Matt Rhule’s system, Temple may finally be able to close that revolving door for a while.

3. Running Back – With the departure of Montel Harris and Matt Brown, Temple really needs someone to step up at the running back position. Unfortunately, last Saturday provided no uplifting news for the team. Junior running back Kenny Harper and sophomore Jamie Gilmore combined for only 46 total yards rushing on the day. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, as coach Rhule specifically stated that he did not plan on running the ball that often. He wanted to work on the passing game which was understandable given the cobwebs on the hands of the receivers from the Addazio era. Unfortunately for Owl’s fans, running back will remain a question heading into the summer camp. But what fun is camp without a few questions? The potential at the position certainly is there, but it will have to wait to be realized.

With the commencement of spring practices, some questions have been answered while others have emerged. Who will step up at running back and wide receiver? Will the young defensive line continue to grow and develop as they have through the spring? Will any true freshman step into any key roles over the summer? These questions will have to wait for answers. After all, spring football is nice, but real football is played in the heat.

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Philly Phootball is a loving husband to an amazing wife and a proud father of his wild one year old son. He obtained his Bachelor's degree from Temple and his MBA from LaSalle. In real life, he works as an auditor but his true passion is Philly sports with an emphasis on Eagles and Temple football. You can follow him on Twitter @phllyphootball or read more of his work on his Eagles blog (http://phillyphootball.com/).