Midseason report: Temple


Record: 3-2, 2-0

There were major questions about Temple headed into the season, if only because most Big East observers were completely unsure what to expect out of the Owls in their first year back in the Big East. Certainly this team had made a name for itself in the MAC, and won its bowl game last year. But the Big East is a step above the MAC, an acknowledgment that everybody made going into the new season.

But coach Steve Addazio promised his team would play hard, physical and relentlessly, and the hope was to do enough on the offensive and defensive lines to be able to stay competitive. Factor in Boston College transfer Montel Harris into the run game with returning back Matt Brown and a promising quarterback in Chris Coyer -- and hopes were high in Philadelphia if not around the Big East. Though the season started with two tough losses to Penn State and Maryland, Temple has found itself in Big East play.

The result is a tie atop the Big East standings at 2-0, the first time the Owls have ever started conference play with such a mark. There is all the proof that is needed to show just how far Temple has come since it was kicked out of the Big East in 2004. Temple has not only been competitive, it has stunned USF and UConn. Harris ran for over 100 yards in both those games, and Temple won the battle up front. That is saying something against the Huskies, in particular, a team that features one of the best defenses in the Big East.

The season is far from over, of course, but Temple is the most pleasant surprise in the Big East. Addazio knows his team has a long way to go, and the final six games of the season feature the top 3 teams in the Big East and a tough game at Army. But there are positive signs to build on.

Offensive MVP: Coyer. Everybody can see why he was one of the top dual-threat quarterback recruits out of high school. Coyer actually ranks No. 9 in the Big East in rushing, averaging 60 yards a game, and has really improved in the pass game. He has eight total touchdowns on the season, including a 14-yard score to Jalen Fitzpatrick with 19 seconds left to send its game against UConn into overtime.

Defensive MVP: Nate D. Smith. Smith, the brother of Philadelphia Eagles tight end L.J. Smith, leads his team with 43 tackles and ranks No. 3 in the Big East with 8.6 tackles per game. What is pretty remarkable is that Nate Smith is just a true freshman. He has a terrific career ahead of him.