Temple begins spring football practice under new coach

Posted: March 22, 2013

Matt Rhule didn't have time to spare.

After being formally announced as the Owls' 26th head football coach on Dec. 17, Rhule hit the ground running, embarking on the recruiting trail for the first time as a collegiate head coach.

"We feel really good about it," said Rhule, who has 15 seasons of professional and collegiate coaching experience under his belt. "People really responded well to us. We're going to take that Temple 'T' further across the country and let people see us."

Along with recruiting, Rhule composed a staff of his own, bringing in offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield, defensive coordinator Phil Snow, offensive line coach Allen Mogridge, defensive line coach Brandon Noble and wide receivers coach Terry Smith.

The Owls begin spring practice on Friday, and will hold 15 practices leading up to the Cherry and White game on April 20 (1 p.m.) at Chodoff Field on campus.

The quarterback issue is on the forefront. Temple is bringing back Chris Coyer and Clinton "Juice" Granger, both of whom are 6-3, 230-pound redshirt seniors. Coyer was the starting quarterback entering the 2012 season under head coach Steve Addazio, but was . The 6-3, 230-pound Virginia native was benched during a 34-10 loss to Cincinnati. Granger started the two remaining games.

Perhaps the biggest offseason addition was landing quarterback P.J. Walker out of North Jersey's Elizabeth High School. Walker was named the Newark Star-Ledger offensive player of the year last season and is expected to compete for the starting position. As a senior, Walker completed 107 of 156 attempts for 2,012 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Rhule said the position is wide open and will evaluate Coyer and Granger during spring practice, then open the competition back up in preseason camp in August.

"That is the most important thing for our team right now is finding out who our leader is going to be," Rhule said. "I haven't seen either one of them play, so we'll evaluate them once it comes down to scrimmages and live action. We'll settle on who the best guy is and we'll open it up in the fall again when our freshmen come in."

The quarterback position isn't the only question mark in the backfield. Standout running backs Matt Brown and Montel Harris have moved on to pursue careers in the NFL. Jamie Gilmore, a sophomore, saw the field seven times last season as a true freshman. He rushed 20 times for 94 yards in limited action and will be expected to step up in place of Brown and Harris.

Along the offensive line, the Owls will undergo a reconstruction program.

"We've had a bunch of guys graduate over the last 2 years and a bunch of young players here that we're not sure who can play," Rhule said. "We really have to establish some depth and settle on the offensive line."

Defensively, the Owls gave up a Big East-worst 343 total points last season. Sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich, who was named Big East Rookie of the Year and a freshman All-American, will be a lock to start again. But overall, Rhule is looking to strengthen the defense on both the back and front ends.

"You win on defense with players and guys that can generate a pass rush and stop the run," Rhule said. "We have to get the players who played last year to play better. We have to develop them, get them bigger, faster and stronger. There's a bunch of young players now that played a little bit last year that have to grow up and be men and go play for us. We're going to try to develop our players and put them in the right spots.

"I really want to establish a culture of competition and winning, where guys try to go win every day. But that's a tall task. It sometimes takes a year or two, but I'm trying to do it all in 15 practices. I want people to come to the spring game and see a really competitive team. We're going to run a real spring game. We're going to be competitive."

Pro day

Ten players were evaluated Thursday during Temple's pro day. NFL scouts from 17 teams attended.

The Owls who participated were running backs Matt Brown and Montel Harris; defensive linemen Marcus Green and John Youboty; defensive backs Vaughn Carraway and Maurice Jones; wide receiver Darryl Shine; linebacker Ahkeem Smith; offensive lineman Martin Wallace; and kicker/punter Brandon McManus.

Former Temple players who participated were defensive backs Kee-ayre Griffin and Deonte Parker, wide receiver C.J Hammond, linebackers Amara Kamara and Quinten White and quarterback Chester Stewart.

Three other local players participated: Villanova wide receiver Norman White, West Chester wide receiver Dan DePalma and Lincoln defensive end Timothy Green.

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