Owls building unity during spring practices

Temple University football is starting to form an identity as the team progresses deep into spring ball.

D’Wan Mathis, a redshirt-sophomore quarterback, runs during practice at Edberg-Olson Hall on March 19. | NICK DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

New energy surrounds Edberg-Olson Hall as Temple University football progresses through their offseason. 

New coaches are meshing and installing new schemes, making each and every practice more lively. 

Head coach Stan Drayton is cultivating an environment focused on accountability and trust between coaches and players alike, and it’s showing as players buy into their respective coordinators’ ideas. 

This week, Temple’s three coordinators spoke to the media and gave insight on how they plan to get the Owls back to a competitive level. 

D.J. Eliot:

Eliot, Temple’s defensive coordinator, will implement a 3-4 defense — a change from last year’s 3-3-5 defense —  which includes an emphasis on speed at the linebacker position. Eliot hopes his players will play a smashmouth brand of football. 

“I would say we are multiple fronts and multiple pressures,” Eliot said. “We’re trying to create sacks and negative yard plays and put the offense behind the sticks.”

Last season, Temple gave up the most rushing yards in The American Athletic Conference, a trend Eliot is hoping to change this season. Temple’s secondary was a surprising bright spot during the 2021 season and remains largely intact for this upcoming season with redshirt-senior cornerbacks Cameron Ruiz and Keyshawn Paul both returning. 

“They are getting coached really good,” Eliot said. “You can’t play corner if you are not confident, and they are confident people.”

Eliot wants to rebuild Temple’s identity with unique ideas of scheme and mentality to implement. 

Danny Langsdorf:

Langsdorf, Temple’s offensive coordinator, is known as a quarterback savant in college football, but he is focused on bringing back Temple’s brand of football — running the ball downhill. He expects the running backs to be a support system for redshirt-sophomore quarterback D’Wan Mathis, whether that is by committee or individually. 

Redshirt-sophomore running back Davon Hubbard and redshirt-junior running back Iverson Clement have gotten lots of reps. 

“They’ve got to be physical runners and be able to pass protect and catch the ball,” Langsdorf said. “They got to do all of it.”

As for Mathis, he’s shown glimpses of the potential that made him a top high school quarterback recruit before committing to the University of Georgia. But finding completions and taking care of the ball will be the focus for Temple’s quarterbacks. 

Last season, Mathis completed just more than 59 percent of his passes and had four interceptions compared to only six touchdowns. But with returning weapons, and a new scheme, there’s potential for Mathis to turn things around, especially with more experience around him. 

Redshirt-junior wide receivers Amad Anderson Jr. and Jose Barbon combined for 723 yards and four touchdowns last season amidst inconsistent quarterback play. The duo are returning along with redshirt-junior tight end David Martin-Robinson who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury.

“Amad Anderson has done a nice job,” Langsdorf said. “Jose Barbon is really smart… I think David Martin-Robinson has really shown some leadership ability.”

Adam Scheier:

Scheier, Temple’s special teams coordinator and tight ends coach, led an impressive special teams unit at Rutgers University last season and is excited all of Temple’s coaches are involved in perfecting the nuances of special teams this season. 

It’s safe to say the players are heavily involved in transforming this part of the Owls’ performance.

“I’ve seen tremendous buy-in from the players,” Scheier said. “It’s not our job or charge to change the culture. It’s our job to just bring the culture back.”

Special teams heavily relies on effort and energy, two features this Temple squad possesses early on in the offseason. 

As for the special teams players themselves, Scheier will actively recruit another punter to fill the role of Adam Barry, who entered the transfer portal in January of 2022. Redshirt-freshman punter Noah Botsford is the only listed punter on the roster.

Meanwhile, sophomore kicker Rory Bell is returning as the starting kicker. 

“We have one goal and that’s to get Temple football and Temple itself back,” Scheier said. “And it’s been awesome.”

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