Key takeaways from Owls’ Training Camp

As fall training camp comes to a close, Temple University head football coach Stan Drayton and his staff are trying to make changes on both sides of the ball to improve this upcoming season.

Temple University football team has their spring training camp. I COURTESY CHRIS TIANANGELINI / TEMPLE ATHLETICS

Temple University football head coach Stan Drayton and his newly-built staff have implemented their own unique ideas and schemes on both offense and defense for their first training camp and season at the helm.

After a promising 3-2 start that included a conference victory over the University of Memphis last season, the Owls failed to win another game, ending the season on a seven-game losing streak.

During last year’s fall camp, former head coach Rod Carey was concerned about a lack of depth and star power on the roster. This season, Drayton feels like his staff addressed both of those issues through the transfer portal.

“When I got here, there were some things that needed to change,” said Drayton, who was hired on Dec. 15, 2021. “I’m not sure what happened during the previous regime but what I do know is that we needed to grow and we have been very vulnerable with each other which has brought us closer as a football team.”

Here are some key takeaways from training camp to keep in mind prior to the Owls’ season opener against Duke University on Sept. 2 in Durham, North Carolina.

Position Battles

One of the most interesting position battles in training camp has been in the quarterback room. The starting job will belong to either returning redshirt sophomore D’Wan Mathis or redshirt junior Quincy Patterson, who transferred to Temple from North Dakota State University on May 19.

Drayton has made it clear that he will not decide who will be under center in the season opener until the days leading up to the game against Duke, but Mathis has the upper hand because of his familiarity with the offensive system.

“[Patterson] has some work to do,” Drayton said. “He doesn’t quite know the system as well and he is catching up by learning on the run, but he’s putting in the work so we are excited about what he can bring.”

The wide receiver depth chart is also in question leading up to the season opener. Redshirt senior Adonicas Sanders, who transferred to Temple from Georgia Tech on April 22, figures to be a staple at the position. Graduate students Jose Barbon and Kadas Reams, as well as redshirt junior Amad Anderson Jr. are among those who received playing time at wide receiver last season and will be in the mix for an extended look this year.

“We made some big additions to the wide receiver room that we are excited about,” Drayton said. “We have guys that we know what we are going to get out of but we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to getting timed up with the new quarterbacks, so I think the best is yet to come for that group.”

New Look Offense

First year offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf is hoping to find a way to jumpstart Temple’s offense, which ranked at the bottom of the conference in points scored and many other major rankings last season. 

Langsdorf believes the Owls’ newly-added depth at the wide receiver and running back positions will allow for many new possibilities on offense, such as multiple running back formations or a spread formation, which uses four wide receivers at once. 

“Our overall depth at those positions was something that we were lacking,” Langsdorf said. “All of the guys we’ve added are a little different when it comes to shape and size, but it’s a good thing to have some of that variety.”

It is possible that the Owls opt to go with a running back by committee to open the season because the team believes they have multiple guys who can be rotated on and off the field on any given drive.

The likes of returning redshirt-sophomore Edward Saydee and transfers, redshirt-junior Jakari Norwood from the University of Illinois and redshirt-sophomore Darvon Hubbard from Texas A&M University, will all have opportunities. But they will not be afraid to ride the hot hand if a player starts to separate himself from the rest of the competition. 

“There are some question marks regarding what certain players can do,” Langsdorf said. “We are trying to challenge our guys by throwing things at them and seeing how they respond so it is sort of a mixed bag right now but we do have a good plan of what we want to accomplish.”

New Look Defense

First-year defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot has rejuvenated the Owls’ defensive unit by establishing a new attack-based scheme. Eliot emphasized upping the aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage which will allow multiple players to get to the quarterback.

“No matter what scheme you run it comes down to effort and execution,” Eliot said. “We have to get our guys playing hard every snap and make sure they are executing properly.”

Eliot does not plan on committing to one specific defensive alignment this season. Instead, the Owls will adjust their defense to the opposing team’s plays.

The Owls could oftentimes be in a four linebacker formation, highlighted by sophomores Kobe Wilson, Jordan Magee and Yvandy Rigby as well as redshirt junior Jacob Hollins, who transferred to Temple on Jan. 24. 

“We’ve had a great camp,” Eliot said. “We have a lot of newcomers but also a lot of guys that have a base of what we’re trying to do so we had a lot to build off of coming into camp this year and we feel really good about where we are right now.”

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