What you need to know for Temple vs. Duke

Temple University football opens their season at Duke on Sept. 2 in a battle of new coaching staffs.


Temple hired head football coach Stan Drayton on Dec. 15, 2021, with the intent of implementing a new culture, centered around imposing his team’s will on both sides of the ball.  

Seven months into his leadership of the program, Drayton has begun to create a new identity to Temple football through practice rituals and the staff hires he has made.  

Let’s get into everything readers should know enteringTemple’s season opener against Duke on Sept. 2.  

Temple Offensive Improvements 

Last season, Temple finished last in the American Athletic Conference in both points scored and rushing yards. Through key hires like offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, though, Temple’s offense could see players utilized in unique ways.  

“We’re trying to fit some things to our personnel that we have discovered might be a playmaker,” Langsdorf said. “We are a mixed bag, but we have a plan as to what we want to accomplish.” 

Three notable offensive transfers for the Owls were redshirt-senior wide receiver Adonicas Sanders from Georgia Tech, running backs redshirt-sophomore Darvon Hubbard from Texas A&M and redshirt-junior Jakari Norwood from Illinois.  

Transfer players alone won’t be the difference, though, as gadget plays and schemes will often be utilized. A standard approach from Temple may not work with their current roster, so a unique offense could lead to more scoring opportunities overall.  

Redshirt-sophomore quarterback D’Wan Mathis’ running ability could also be an asset but in ways different from the 2021 season. Mathis scrambled for positive yards last year only when the pocket collapsed, but with designed runs and an impactful RPO game, he can be an even greater piece to the offensive puzzle.  

First-time head coaches 

Drayton and Duke football head coach Mike Elko are serving as head coaches for the first time in their careers. Elko became Duke’s 22nd head coach five days prior to Drayton’s hire in December.  

“There’s not a lot of information out there about either side,” said Elko at a press conference. “Everybody is trying to get as much information as they can behind the scenes to try to be as ready as possible.” 

Elko is known for coaching top-ranked defenses around the country, whether it be at Notre Dame, Wake Forest or Bowling Green. Elko, a New Jersey native and University of Pennsylvania graduate, is taking over a Duke team that only won three games last season, the same amount as Temple.  

“Defensively we know they are an aggressive style of play,” Drayton said. “They play hard, they swarm to the football, and we got to be on point.” 

Both staffs have entirely new faces at the top coordinator positions with Duke offensive coordinator Kevin Johns coming from the University of Memphis, and Temple’s Langsdorf hailing from the University of Colorado.  

Drayton, meanwhile, specializes on the offensive side of the ball, most specifically the running back position.  

With Preston Brown, Temple’s former director of player personnel, moving to running backs coach, the ground game should see a rejuvenated approach, relying on many different looks to attack opponents.  

What to expect from Duke 

Duke football finished last in FBS football in total defense, placing 130th out of 130 teams without a single win in the ACC last season. 

Yet this year, with four starters returning on the offensive line, and redshirt-junior defensive tackle DeWayne Carter Jr. returning on the defensive line, a stronger presence up front could prove to be vital for the Blue Devils.  

Sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard will be under center having passed for 381 yards and rushed for another 173 last season. He loses main target redshirt-senior Jake Bobo to UCLA, but senior Jalon Calhoun returns having caught 56 balls for 718 yards last season. 

“He’s cool under pressure, he delivers an accurate football,” Drayton said about Leonard. “They got a read offense at times, he’s not afraid to run the football.” 

On defense, the secondary only caught six interceptions last season, but that production should increase with graduate student Iowa State transfer Datrone Young plugging the hole as a starting cornerback. The linebackers in the 4-2-5 should be decent as well with returners in Shaka Heyward and Dorian Mausi.  

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