Written By: Adrian Maghacot and Zachary Silverstein
Photo by: Owlsports
A Change At The Helm
Three wins and nine losses. That was the record for a team ranked 118th out of 130 FBS teams according to CollegeFootballNews.com. This marked the second consecutive season where Temple was ranked last in the American Athletic Conference. However, this was not the only major story of the season as head coach, Rod Carey, was fired after three seasons and a 12-20 record with the Owls.
Newly-elected Athletic Director, Arthur Johnson, scrambled to find someone to revive the program, and on December 15, former Texas running backs coach, Stan Drayton, was named as Temple‘s head coach.
“I had a chance to get to know Stan while we worked together at the University of Texas,” Johnson said. “He knows what success looks like at the highest levels of football.”
Despite being a first-time head coach, Drayton has an impressive resume as the running backs coach for many collegiate and NFL teams, including Florida and Ohio State, who were both national champions in 2006 and 2014 respectively. Some of the running backs coached by Drayton include, Brian Westbrook (Villanova), Matt Forte (Green Bay Packers), and Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State).
A Run Game Destined For Success
The Owls have six running backs on the roster. Of the six, three are returning players, two are transfer players, and one is a true freshman. The projected starter and leader of the running back room is redshirt sophomore Edward Saydee, who is the longest tenured Owls RB. Last season, he rushed for 321 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Redshirt sophomore D’Wan Mathis, who was named the starting quarterback on August 25, will also play a tremendous part in the run game, as ESPN had him ranked as the 14th best dual-threat quarterback in the high school class of 2019.
Having one of the most well respected running backs coaches in all of football should allow these backs, as well as Mathis, to flourish.
“Stan is a great coach,” Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian said when Drayton announced he had accepted the Temple job. “He’s a really good leader of men. I think you see his coaching style in the way the running backs play — they play hard, they play tough, play smart, and that’s what he really instills in them on the football field.”
New Faces On Campus
Alongside the head coach, there are 13 new members of the coaching staff. One of them being special teams coordinator/tight ends coach, Adam Scheier, who held the same position at Rutgers and led them to be fourth in the nation in special teams efficiency last season.
Not only are there many new coaches, the roster has been revamped as well. 47 players are true or redshirt freshmen, which makes up 42.3% of the team, and the other 55 players are either returners or lettered last year at other schools. Since Drayton’s hire, 32 players were added to the roster, including North Dakota State redshirt sophomore quarterback Quincy Patterson and Duke redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Peace Addo.
The Return Of D’Wan Mathis
August has been a good month for Mathis as not only was he announced as the Owls’ starter, but he was also named to the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watchlist, which is an award given annually to the top upperclassman QB in the country.
“As a culture, if you’re labeled a starter, it’s your job to keep that status,” Drayton said. “We want to make sure we’re sharpening each other’s tools so that we get better along the way.”
It’s been quite the ride for Mathis, who transferred to Temple from Georgia after playing in three games for the Bulldogs during the 2020 season. He arrived at Temple in December 2020, and was named the starting QB on April 27. However, Mathis’ season was limited to just seven games in 2021 after injuring his ankle in the season opener vs. Rutgers and re-injuring that same ankle later in the season against East Carolina.
On November 18, it was announced that Mathis was leaving Temple and entering his name into the transfer portal. It was speculated that then head coach Rod Carey was the reason for Mathis deciding to leave the program since a handful of other players decided to transfer as well, but that was never confirmed.
Just six days later, on November 24, Mathis took to Twitter to announce that he had changed his mind and would continue his college career with the Owls.
“North Philly I’m back! Let’s do it!,” Mathis posted to Twitter along with a 1:16 highlight video.
During the annual American Athletic Conference media day, Drayton, junior offensive lineman Adam Klein, and redshirt junior defensive tackle Xach Gill had the opportunity to speak with reporters. Both players were asked about the shift in culture and the true meaning of being “Temple TUFF.”
“Just defining what TUFF means,” Klein said. “We lost it a little bit, but moving forward, we’re on the right track.”
On August 15, Drayton rewarded six players with single digit numbers. This honor is given to players who portray the “Temple TUFF” spirit on and off the field.
“You can’t even be considered to be a single digit unless you are Temple TUFF,” Drayton said seconds before announcing the six players.
The players named by Drayton are Klein (awarded #2), Graduate Student OL Isaac Moore (awarded #4), Redshirt Senior WR Adonicas Sanders (#5), Redshirt Sophomore LB Jordan Magee (#6), Redshirt Freshman CB Jalen McMurray (#7), and Sophomore DL Darian Varner (#9).
Big Games On The Schedule
This season, Temple’s homecoming game will be against Rutgers on Saturday, September 17. These two teams played last season in the opener, and it was a 61-14 blowout in Rutgers’ favor. This season’s matchup is a prime opportunity for Temple to host a Big Ten team and make a statement.
Last season’s homecoming game, which Temple won 34-31, occurred on Saturday, Oct. 2 against Memphis. This season’s homecoming game is in September because the Owls do not have a Saturday home game in October.
The most challenging test for Temple will be on Nov. 19, when they host the Cincinnati Bearcats, who are currently ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press preseason poll.
Cincinnati is coming off a historic 2021 season, in which they beat No. 9 Notre Dame on the road, No. 21 Houston in the conference championship, and became the first non-Power 5 team to be selected to the College Football Playoff.
Temple was also given the opportunity to play in a primetime game this season. The Owls will travel to FBC Mortgage Stadium to battle Central Florida on Thursday, Oct. 13 at 7:00pm live on ESPN.
Lafayette (Sep. 10); Rutgers (Sep. 17); UMass (Sep. 24); Tulsa (Oct. 21); South Florida (Nov. 5); Cincinnati (Nov. 19); East Carolina (Nov. 26)
Duke (Sep. 2); Memphis (Oct. 1); UCF (Oct. 13); Navy (Oct. 29); Houston (Nov. 12)