"Obviously, we've got to solidify some things," Temple coach Steve Addazio said. "We've got some issues on defense [that have] to be solidified. We've got to solidify our quarterback situation."
The Owls rallied to win their first two conference games, against South Florida and Connecticut. That marked the first time that Temple won consecutive conference games as a Big East member.
A charter football member of the Big East in 1991, the Owls were kicked out in 2004 due to their struggles on the field and at the box office. Before this season, Temple spent the previous five seasons in the Mid-American Conference.
Returning just eight starters from a team that finished 9-4 and won a bowl game in 2011, there was a sense that the Owls would struggle. But Temple joined the Big East this season partly because West Virginia's immediate departure for the Big 12 left a hole in the Big East 2012 schedule.
"I think the best thing that happened was that we went right into this league," said Addazio, who had nine true freshmen start at least one game. "No matter when - now or later - there's going to be an adjustment period. I'd rather have that adjustment period, the youth, and the whole thing in one shot.
"And I think we will be better for it."
It's likely, however, that the Owls are still a ways away from contending for a conference title. Temple loses its top running backs in Montel Harris (1,054 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Matt Brown (372 yards, four touchdowns), and the Owls still haven't filled the pass-rushing void left after Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Adrian Robinson graduated last season. And their play at quarterback has to improve.
Juice Granger, who started the last two games, heads into the spring as the starter. The redshirt junior completed 31 of 55 passes for 370 yards and two touchdowns to go with two interceptions in seven games.
There's a good chance that Kevin Newsome, another redshirt junior quarterback and Penn State transfer, will end up at another position.
"I think this is going to be an interesting year," Addazio said. Newsome has "got a lot of ability. But he's a guy that can do a lot of things. Imagine him as a big tailback.
"He's got great running skills. I just think there's things we have to sit down and talk about with him."
A Wish List for the Owls
1. Improved quarterback play: The Owls ranked 116th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams with an average of 120 passing yards per game. Juice Granger, who started the last two games, will go into the spring as the starter. Chris Coyer will battle him for the position. Elizabeth High's P.J. Walker, a 2013 recruit, could provide depth. There's a chance that Kevin Newsome could move to running back.
2. Finding a featured running back: Jamie Gilmore is Temple's top returner. The 5-foot-8, 185-pound freshman had 20 carries for 94 yards this season. There's still a chance that Montrell Dobbs, who enrolled at Temple in January as a partial qualifier, will be a part of next season's team. Dobbs was the 2010 Connecticut High School Coaches Association player of the year at Ansonia High before playing at Milford Academy (N.Y.) last fall.
3. Defense has to limit big plays: The defense yielded 60 plays of 20 yards or more this season. That's way too many to compete in the Big East.
4. Deon Miller has to have a bigger impact: The junior, who dealt with a viral infection this season, caught just seven passes for 101 yards in eight games after leading the team in receiving the previous year.
5. Replace Brandon McManus: The senior holds the Owls' career records in points scored (338), field goals made (60) field goals attempted (83) and punting average (45.06). Mainland's Jim Cooper, a 2013 recruit, is expected to take over Temple's placekicking duties.
- Keith Pompey
Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @pompeysgridlock