Coach: Bobby Wallace (8th season, 19-60) 2004 record: 2-9 Big East finish: 1-5 (t-6th) 2004 I-A offensive rankings: Rushing: 37th (173.0 ypg) Passing: 52nd (220.7 ypg) 2004 I-A defensive rankings: Rushing: 93rd (194.3 ypg) Passing: 94th (245.0 ypg)
at Arizona State
at Bowling Green
Depth Chart: Offense
5 returning starters in red
Depth Chart: Defense
6 returning starters in red
To order your 2005 Athlon Sports annual and receive $1 off plus free shipping courtesy of SI.com, click here.
Bobby Wallace enters his eighth season on North Broad Street with just three wins in his last 23 games. And that's not even the worst part.
This program is without a conference, having been kicked out of the Big East after last season. The Owls are trying to get into the Mid-American Conference, but until that happens they'll be forced to compete as an independent.
From 2000-02, Wallace posted three straight four-win seasons, which might not seem like a whole lot. But it was at least something. Now he's almost starting from scratch, which is what he had to do when he took over from Ron Dickerson.
Obviously, it's far from an ideal situation. Wallace is doing his best to make the most of the circumstances, knowing full well his job will probably be on the line sooner rather than later.
"I felt very comfortable, once we knew the [school] was committed to [staying in] Division I-A," he said. "The bottom line is, we've been through some hard times. But each hard time was followed by something very positive.
"There's still work to be done, but I think we're in position to have a tremendously competitive I-A program. Once we get in a conference, this school will have everything you need to compete at the level they're in."
The Owls lost quarterback Walter Washington, who left a year early to enter the NFL Draft. He was responsible for the team's final 16 touchdowns, either through the air or on the ground. He obviously won't be easy to replace, as he was not only Temple's signal-caller but also the Owls' top rushing threat.
Fifth-year senior Mike McGann, who redshirted last season, has the daunting task of replacing Washington. McGann has started 26 games in his career, but he lost the job midway through the 2003 season. Now, he's all Temple has, so keeping him in one piece is the top priority.
The running game has potential, especially because the line returns three starters. Tailbacks Tim Brown and Umar Ferguson each averaged at least four yards per carry last season, but they will need to increase their overall production now that Washington has departed.
The Owls don't have a lot of experience at wide receiver. But Wallace likes the potential.
In '01 and '02, the Owls ranked in the top 20 in the country in total defense. Last year, they fell all the way to 107th. A lot of that could be blamed on injuries, especially up front and in the secondary.
This year, it doesn't help that Temple lost linebacker Rian Wallace a year early to the pros. Or that the team's Defensive MVP, linebacker Troy Bennett, another three-year starter, is also gone. Potential replacements Manuel Tapia and Ryan Gore have two career starts between them. Redshirt freshman Rick Costa could be a name to watch.
The Owls should at least be upgraded on the line. How much better is the only question. End Mike Mendenhall would be an honors candidate if Temple was in a conference. Massive tackle Antwon Burton, who missed all of 2004 with a broken foot, is also back.
The Owls have to replace two starting safeties. Cornerback Ray Lamb, who came back to play in the final six games after undergoing knee surgery in May, makes big plays. If nothing else, there should be some job competition going on. Depth is rarely a luxury at Temple.
Two years ago, the Owls played six overtime periods. They missed kicks in five of them. Wallace addressed the issue by bringing in junior college All-American Ryan Lux ... who proceeded to struggle last season. Temple also recruited highly touted junior college punter Jake Hendy, who had trouble beating out incumbent Mike McLaughlin.
Playing an independent schedule isn't a long-term solution for the Owls. Especially not the kind of schedule they're facing this season, which includes Miami, Virginia, Wisconsin and Arizona State.
Temple is trying to get into the MAC. Until it does, it's stuck. The school's committed to the program, but at some point, they have to win games.
It's Wallace's charge to keep the program afloat until someone throws a life preserver.