Study Session: What the Cherry and White game said about Temple Football

Temple Football’s spring season is complete, but the Owls gave the fans a glimpse into the 2024 roster. What key storylines stood out from the 2024 Cherry and White game?

Temple’s defense dominated the Cherry and White game, which could be a sign of things to come in the program. | LANDON STAFFORD / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Football’s spring season has come and gone, and the Owls capped off their training with the annual Cherry and White game on April 13. The program put on a show, highlighting most of the 43 players that joined the roster this offseason.

While the defense dominated the scoreboard, the spring game should be taken with a grain of salt. The team’s goal on Saturday was to be competitive but leave healthy. Fans should not draw significant conclusions from the action without proper precaution.

However, as the Owls take a short break before their summer program, Saturday may have provided a glimpse of what’s to come in 2024. Here’s what we learned from the Cherry and White game.


Temple’s defense struggled in all aspects of the game last season. The Owls had talent — former linebacker Jordan Magee could be drafted this week and cornerback Jalen McMurray transferred into the SEC — but they could not put it all together.

Defensive coordinator Everett Withers took the reins from D.J. Eliot, who went to coach the Philadelphia Eagles’ linebackers, but Withers used most of Eliot’s schemes and plays because he didn’t have enough time to install his own. Instead, the Owls couldn’t stop the run, and their pass defense also suffered because of it.

This offseason, Withers installed a 4-3 defense, utilizing more defensive linemen to maximize the linebackers’ athleticism. Withers thinks this new base will help stop the run, and it certainly did on Saturday. The offense struggled to find gaps up front, and the defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game, which they could not do last year.

“I like this scheme a lot,” said defensive end Tra Thomas, who had a tackle for loss against the Cherry team. “I’ve been playing this scheme since high school. I feel like it stops the run easily.”

Head coach Stan Drayton felt the personnel was the biggest reason the defense performed well this spring. He credited the new guys in the lineup for stepping up on Saturday and proving what they could do.

“Scheme is one thing — let’s make that clear — I love scheme,” Drayton said. “I love writing circles and X’s on the wall and all that stuff, but at the end of the day, it’s the players. If they’re buying into what you’re teaching them, the scheme is going to work.”

The Owls had depth issues in each position last year, but if they stay healthy, this unit looks more confident and able to keep the team in games. Temple’s defense could be a strong suit this season if they can play to their potential.


Again, take this with a grain of salt, but Temple’s offensive line really struggled on Saturday. 

The unit had some turnover this offseason, but the team seemed confident about how they grew and got better. The unit’s communication was a major focus this spring, as information got lost in the shuffle since the lineups changed so frequently due to injuries.

“The elephant in the room was we had some communication issues with the o-line,” said running back E.J. Wilson. “We took a big jump this year. Players are more comfortable with other guys, and they know, ‘As he go, we go.’ [Offensive line coach Chris Wiesehan] has them on a tight rope, and they’re believing in him. We’re all gelling together.”

However, the unit did not match up well on Saturday against the more physical defensive line. The White team registered 13 sacks, including six from outside linebacker Diwun Black, and held the Cherry team to just about 100 yards on the ground.

Fans shouldn’t be on high alert about the group just yet, but the line hadn’t shown much improvement from their struggles last season. They’ll have six more players joining the ranks this summer, and they will most likely focus on building more chemistry and establishing roles in the lineup.


The Owls were always going to struggle when E.J. Warner left for Rice in December. Warner was statistically one of the best quarterbacks in program history, and Temple didn’t have the depth in the quarterback room to replace him.

The four players that stepped under center Saturday left much to be desired, and Drayton hasn’t committed to a player for the season-opener against Oklahoma on Aug. 30.

“I don’t know if our quarterbacks are ready for that yet,” Drayton said. “There’s not a whole lot of flinching that goes on in their approach. There were a couple of weeks we had the quarterbacks live, and they handled the pressure well. I just think that the development still needs to take place regardless of them taking command of the offense.”

Forrest Brock led the room, taking the bulk of the first-team reps and leading the team in completions and passing yards while throwing the team’s only touchdown pass. Rutgers transfer Evan Simon completed just six of his 14 attempts and finished with 46 yards through the air.

Simon was expected to fill the role, especially when transfer Clifton McDowell re-entered the portal, but Brock has stated his case this spring as the number-one option. Brock does have limitations, as he can struggle with accuracy and pocket movement at times, and the Owls could look to the portal in the remaining months before the season to find their quarterback of the future.

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