Owls extend Rhule

Coach Matt Rhule stands on the sideline during the Owls’ 14-6 loss to Cincinnati last Saturday. Rhule’s squad has dropped three straight games after starting the year 5-3. Hua Zong | TTN
Coach Matt Rhule stands on the sideline during the Owls’ 14-6 loss to Cincinnati last Saturday. Rhule’s squad has dropped three straight games after starting the year 5-3. Hua Zong | TTN

The university announced Thursday that football coach Matt Rhule signed a four-year contract extension that will keep him with the Owls through the 2021 season.

Rhule led the Owls to a 6-6 record last year following a 2-10 campaign in his first season with the team in 2013. The 40-year-old has tallied a 5-11 record in American Athletic Conference games in the team’s first two years in the conference.

“Matt Rhule is one of the best young coaches in college football and we are excited that he will be at the helm of Temple Football through at least 2021,” athletic director Patrick Kraft said in a university-issued statement. “Matt has the program heading in the right direction, especially as we enter a very promising season on the gridiron, and we are confident that he is the right person to take the program to even greater heights.”

In his first year as coach, Rhule and the Owls struggled.

Temple allowed its opponents to average 474 yards of total offense per game and score 29 points per game. The Owls were especially vulnerable through the air, where they allowed 298 yards passing per game, which ranked 119th among Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Temple also held opponents under 20 points once during the 2013 season.

Last season, Rhule, who has been coaching football since 1998, was able to turn around the defense.

The Owls ranked fourth in the FBS in scoring defense, allowing 17.5 points per game and tied for second with six defensive touchdowns. The defense, who held opponents to 10 points or less five times, also ranked 11th in takeaways, forcing 30 turnovers, 19 of which were fumble recoveries, which tied the group with Florida International University for second-most in the FBS.

While the defense began to click in 2013, the offense was still lacking.

Temple averaged 308 yards per game which ranked 117th among FBS teams and ranked 97th in points per game at 23.1. The Owls also ranked 115th in rushing offense, 117th in team passing efficiency, 125th in third-down conversion percentage and tied for 121st in first down offense.

Despite their offensive deficiencies, the Owls took down East Carolina 20-10 on Nov. 1, their third nationally ranked opponent since 1998 and the first since Rhule took over as coach.

“I am thrilled to sign this extension and to know that I will continue to lead the program into the future,” Rhule said in a university-released statement. “I’m proud of our student athletes and all that they do and I look forward to continuing to lead and teach them for years to come.  Temple has been my family’s home since 2006 and I am honored to be able to serve the university as its football coach.”

Before becoming the coach on Dec. 17, 2012, Rhule spent one year in the NFL with the New York Giants as the assistant offensive line coach.

Prior to joining the Giants, Rhule, who played linebacker at Pennsylvania State University,  spent six years as an assistant coach under former coaches Steve Addazio and Al Golden.

Under Golden from 2006-2010, Rhule occupied numerous coaching positions. He was the the quarterbacks coach for four years, the offensive coordinator for three years and the defensive line coach for one year.

For the 2011 season, Rhule was the assistant offensive coordinator for Addazio, the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator

Temple will open up its season Sept. 5 against Penn State at Lincoln Financial Field.

Owen McCue can be reached at owen.mccue@temple.edu or on Twitter  @Owen_McCue

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