Switching over from the offensive position previews, its time to look at the defense. The first position group I want to look at on the defense is the line. Every football team has to replenish the defensive line. At Temple, recruiting and development has played instrumental role in keeping Temple’s defensive line one of the more consistent units on the team.
Key Departures: Michael Dogbe, Freddie Booth-Lloyd, Dante Burke, Antonio Colclough
Key Additions: Kevin Robertson, Jacoby Sharpe, Wisdom Quarshie, Simon Abedimungu
Front four is formiddable
Gone are space eaters Michael Dogbe and Freddie Booth-Lloyd. Dogbe is off to the Cardinals and FBL is in the Arena Football League with Orlando. That’s two interior DL that have gone pro and need replacing. Fortunately for the Owls, Dioubate and Archibong provide plenty of depth and experience. Between the two of them is 64 games played along with 72 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Like Russo, Dioubate is a highly rated player that is past the point of being a former – 4 star recruit. He is now a senior and its time to show us how far he has come. He has the NFL build, he has the talent, now its time to put it all together. The same goes for Archibong, who has 1 more year of eligibility after this.
On the outside is a player that has gone a bit under the radar this off-season but if he elevates his game even further, will likely make first team all-conference this season. That player is DE Quincy Roche. Over the past 2 seasons he has accumulated 13 sacks, 20.5 tackles-for-loss, 5 forced fumbles, and 2 blocked kicks. Special teams, defensive end, you name it and Roche can do it. Opposite of him will be Dana Levine who offers a similarly impressive resume of 5.5 sacks, 7.5 TFLs, and 2 blocked kicks.
Your front four is looking quite strong this year, particularly the starters.
searching for depth, you won’t have to go far
Depth is always critical along the defensive front. Teams like to deploy at least 7 or 8 guys during the game. So we are tasked with trying to find added depth for this upcoming season. I think along the edges Zach Mesday will rotate it quite frequently. Neither the biggest nor the strongest, Mesday is taking his graduate year and hoping to parlay it into a productive season. Originally a linebacker, Mesday has accumulated 4 sacks, 8 tackles-for-loss, and 2 forced fumbles as he transitioned to defensive end. DeAndre Kelly is another graduate student who has worked his way back from injuries and is looking to make an impact in his final season. He has plenty of game day experience and hopefully will provide adequate depth on the edge. The downside to both Mesday and Kelly, both are about 6’1 but play with Temple Tuff swagger to overcome their stature.
Along the interior we have a new face in Kevin Robertson, transfer from Fullerton College who accumulated 8 tackles and 1 sack in 5 games played last year. That’s a good amount of production in limited snaps. Ifeanyi Maijeh is the only other DT with playing time on the roster. In 8 games last year he had 7 tackles. There is some depth concerns at DT this upcoming season.
young guns looking to help out
Temple has a lot of young talent on the team. One thing Collins tried to do in his only full recruiting class of 2018 was recruit the lines. It remains to be seen the overall quality of lineman recruits, but the obvious quality that they all have is potential.
Along the interior are Khris Banks, Wisdom Quarshie, and Evan Boozer. All 3 are either freshman or redshirt freshman, former 3 star recruits that can develop into legitimate All-AAC talents. Banks and Quarshie are both quick for their size and as high school recruits displayed power and finesse in spring camps and during their seasons that made them highly regarded by P5 programs. Boozer can end up either at DT or DL. I fully expect all 3 to fight for some rotational time. There is playing time to be had and they all have potential to make things happen over the next several years. It may be a bit too early to expect a ton of production, but they have the tools necessary to make big plays.
On the outside, redshirt sophomore Arnold Ebiketie played in 6 games last year and should be able to continue progress in his development and will likely see significant playing time this season. He had been overlooked during the transition class of 2017 when Collins came in and tried to salvage the group.
There is a whole group of freshman and redshirt freshman to keep an eye on including Travon King, who drops down from his LB spot, Jacoby Sharpe, Tyreke Young, and Simon Abidemungu. Unfortunately for the Owls, high touted DE Nickolos Madourie will be sidelines with another season ending injury. He has a long road ahead of him. There is definitely some playing time to be had, especially as the season progresses and the Owls need more depth. The young players will be called upon to complement the upperclassmen in the trenches.
walter stewart is a rising star
Walter Stewart first became coach at Tennessee and moved onto Eastern Kentucky where his defensive line consistently ranked as one of the best in the conference and often stymied their opponents to season lows on offense. He then moved on briefly to Florida A&M before making his way to NIU. At NIU last year his defensive line came 2nd in the country in sacks behind only Clemson. You read that correctly, a MAC team had 50 sacks in 1 season and came 2nd in the entire country. Digging through some of the advanced stats, the defensive line was as legitimate as it sounds. His defense last year was top 15 in standard down sack rate, stuff rate, pass down sack rate, and keeping the offense behind in terms of yards to gain as depicted by “opportunity rate”.
The defensive line boasts several key returnees from last year. There is talent across the top 4 and some experience behind them, particularly with Robertson transferring from Fullerton, but the depth further back will require some of the young underclassmen to step up. There are several candidates for potential breakout freshman and redshirt freshman, particularly at defensive tackle with Banks and Boozer. But do not overlook some of the other young athletes like Ebiketie as well.
Position Outlook: A-
Level of Concern: Low-moderate, depth will be interesting to follow along with during summer camps and into the fall. It’s possible to see some of the freshman and true-freshman to make a name for themselves.