A whirlwind of a January brought Rod Carey and his staff from Northern Illinois to Temple. Carey, fresh off a MAC Championship a month prior was likely not expecting to be involved in a coaching change. It was a whirlwind of December for Temple, who saw 2 head coaches come and go. As Carey was walking down the hallways at EO Hall, few at Temple were ready to welcome a mid-western coach into a east coast big city. But here we are on October-eve, Temple stands at 3-1 and about to begin their conference play. With a solid start behind them, Carey hopes to make a splash in his first year in the AAC. Unlike previous hires, this isn’t Carey’s first head coaching job. Temple, now known as a head coaching hotbed after relishing its role as a coaching graveyard, is in a unique position to catch some people off-guard.
First up this week is an ECU squad that is in its first year of rebuild with Mike Houston taking over after leading JMU to a championship a few years ago. Houston has inherited an ECU squad that needs to bring in some talent in order to regain its status as a good G5 program. ECU has an incredible fan base that deserves a good football team. I think Houston is the man for the job, but ECU still has a ways to go. They are currently 3-2 but with 2 FCS wins. ODU is the other and they edged them out 24-21. They aren’t a horrific team, but they aren’t good either. They are recruiting well this year, so it may not take too long to get things going.
After the ECU game, Temple’s next 3 opponents are ranked and have a combined record of 13-1, ouch! The lone loss is UCF against Pitt. Both Memphis and SMU are currently undefeated and ranked in one poll or both. Then Temple plays at USF which will be a tough game for TU, they play horribly in Florida. Once that hurdle is cleared, games against Cinci and Tulane, who are currently a combined 7-2, await.
Suffice to say, Temple has to take care of business this week against ECU. The conference schedule features 5 opponents with a combined record of 20-3 and then USF at Tampa. Temple finishes the regular season against UConn at home.
Just go 1-0 every week, that’s the only focus. Even with the conference being within reach, Temple cannot lose focus of what’s ahead of them this week.
good start, keep fighting
If most Temple fans were asked at the beginning of the spring what record they would be happy with in their opening non-conference schedule, I’m sure many would say 3-1 would be a good start. Who they lose to doesn’t matter. It’s how they lost that may be concerning, after completely losing their TempleTuff mantra in a blowout loss to Buffalo. Temple cannot afford to mentally checkout when things aren’t going well, because in the upcoming games, there will surely be things that don’t go well. Temple will have to grind it out and figure out ways to win.
everything to play for
Carey has a lot of experience in situations like this. Take for example last season, where NIU marched through an insane OOC schedule to start the season, broken and dilapidated with a 1-3 start, and went 6-2 in conference to win their division, and eventually upset Buffalo to win the MAC.
This Temple team is better than NIU and has every ability to win the conference. The defense has played at an elite level, opportunistic and hungry. Offensively, the Owls are leaving much to be desired, but that can be fixed with a change in some play calling. There are ways to improve, and the Owls have yet to put together a complete game.
Right now, no one is looking Temple’s way. UCF is still the team to beat in the east, Cincinnati right behind them. Out west, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, and Navy will be neck and neck for much of the season. Memphis and SMU are ranked, with Tulane getting some votes. A lot of the attention is on those teams. Temple is currently flying below the radar, right where they want to be. Right where Rod Carey and NIU tends to be.
For Temple, the season is there for the taking.