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And in that corner… The Temple Owls

Aug 27, 2013, 3:36 PM EST

Temple

Notre Dame opens its season with a visit from the Temple Owls, with first-year head coach Matt Rhule looking to return the program to the heights it reached under head coach Al Golden. Rhule was there for Golden’s epic rebuilding job, helping to turn an Owl program that had fallen to the depths of college football into one of its least likely winners.

The Owls are coming off a four-win season that still managed to get head coach Steve Addazio the Boston College coaching job. But fifteen starters return to a program reinvigorated by the return of Rhule, one of Golden’s most trusted lieutenants. And while Rhule has had to reinstall a pro-style offense and do his best to patch holes on one of college football’s youngest defenses, there’s hope that this season begins a step back in the direction that Golden had taken the program.

Joining us to get us up to speed on all things Temple is the Philadelphia Inquirer’s John Mitchell. Covering the Owls beat while also keeping the Inquirer’s Owls Inq blog up to date, John was nice enough to take some time out of his business schedule and get us prepared for what the Owls are bringing to South Bend.

I asked, he answered. We all learn.

1) New head coach Matt Rhule took over the Temple program from one-time Notre Dame assistant Steve Addazio, who jumped to take the Boston College job. Rhule was front and center for the program’s revival under Al Golden. What type of team did Rhule inherit?

The team that Rhule inherited finished 4-7 last season. They are in transition, forced to start a junior quarterback who has never taken a snap at the collegiate level. This despite having both players who played the position last season still on the roster. They are not very talented and were picked to finish 9th out of 10 teams in the AAC Conference. The secondary is a huge concern, with just one of the four positioned being manned by a returning player. Finishing at .500 would be a major surprise.

2) It feels like there is quite a bit of uncertainty at the quarterback position. Already challenged by a new offensive scheme, who will the Irish defense see under center and what do they have to worry about?

Connor Reilly is the starting quarterback. He has never taken a collegiate snap. He is a mystery to all, even those who cover the team.

3) The Temple defense went through some growing pains last year. But defensive coordinator Phil Snow built his reputation getting after the quarterback. What will Temple need to do to slow down the Notre Dame offense?

They need to play as stout as possible against the run, something that will be difficult as they have very little size up front. They will make a good effort to get to the quarterback on passing downs with quick but undersized defensive ends.

4) Las Vegas has this game looking fairly one-sided, with the Irish around a four touchdown favorite. With Notre Dame in the preseason top ten and Temple picked to finish near the bottom of the American, this has the ingredients to get ugly. Yet I can’t imagine a new head coach and his team plan to lay down during their season opener. What’s a good outcome for the Owls on Saturday?

A good outcome would be for the Owls to be within three touchdowns by the end of the game.

***

You can catch more from John throughout the week at the Owl Inq blog as well as in the Inquirer’s sports page. You can follow him on twitter @jmitchinquirer.

  1. North of Denver - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    uhhhh…. wow. At least he’s being honest.

    • NotreDan - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:48 PM

      I’ll tell you what, I have much more respect for this writer than I do/did for the pompous jerk from the Michigan state blog last year.

      • ndgoldandblue - Aug 28, 2013 at 8:51 AM

        I hear ya’ there, NotreDan. That guy was way too overconfident in his team. He was actually past overconfidence and into arrogance. I’m glad we handed it to them.

      • Hakuna Budi - Aug 28, 2013 at 6:23 PM

        do I sense some connection between “Michigan (State or otherwise)” and blind stupid arrogance?

  2. bearcatirishfan - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    Anyone else smile ear to ear when they read “and in that corner” yeah it’s a rel game week.

    • andy44teg - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Ditto that, my brother, ditto that

    • goirishgo - Aug 27, 2013 at 9:21 PM

      Big time!

  3. TriniND - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    You can just feel the excitement in the program from this guy! On the spectrum of CFB team reporting, there’s big KA one end and this guy on the other.

    I’m with you bearcat. Even did a little fistpump at my desk.

  4. jem5b - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    The Temple “owls” nickname derived from its charter. It was a school designed for night school students.
    No kidding.
    KA were you the guy asking some of he Q&A in last weeks Kell session?
    Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.

    • dickasman - Aug 28, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      Let’s be more democratic and not leave out the cokeheads. Snort’em if you got’em!

  5. ndgoldandblue - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Hello ladies and gentlemen. I said that my self-imposed exile would last until Temple, but I figured I would return once Keith had composed his first official Temple entry.

    Reading over this Q & A with the Temple beat writer for the Inquirer, all I can say is “wow”. I’ve never heard such a ringing endorsement for one’s own team. It’s like Mitchell is Will from Good Will Hunting and Keith is Sean. Keith asks, “What do you think about your team?” Mitchell responds, “It’s a real piece of sh%$.” To which Keith replies, “Oh, tell me what you really think?”

    • ndgoldandblue - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      Sorry…no question mark after “think”. This is what happens when you take a hiatus from typing. Your punctuation gets all messed up.

    • blowedout - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:40 PM

      Love the good willing hunting quote. All I can say is welcome back and ‘don’t forget the coffee.’

  6. 25kgold - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    1-0. Let’s keep it moving…

    I’ll meet you guys in ann arbor (pardon my lowercase).

  7. smartestjones - Aug 27, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    To be fair to John Mitchell, he is a 76ers writer. After being beaten down by the ineptitude of that team and the spector of the impending tank job of all tank jobs in the 2013-2014 season, do you blame him that he is not enthusiastic about covering a college football team in a town that cares only about pro sports (other than the 76ers) and college basketball? Free John Mitchell!

    • smartestjones - Aug 27, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      *specter

  8. Keith Arnold - Aug 27, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Guys — Let’s be nice. Getting a journalist like John to give some feedback is always great. I could’ve gone to a few of the Temple blogs, but I thought getting a take from the guy covering the beat from the Inquirer, one of the better national newspapers out there, was worth it.

    Respect that he called it as he saw it and kept it brief. Go check out his blog if you want more… He’s filling it up.

    • NotreDan - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:46 PM

      I always love it when you slum down here in the comments with us KA. Been a long wait.

      GO IRISH!!

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Aug 28, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      KA’s comment cracks me up and reminds me of parents sending their kids out to play and telling them to “share with your friends, have fun, and don’t embarrass me.”

      as for Mitchell, he told it like it is. i suppose he could have predicted an upset and that Temple is going to force turnovers and run the ball down ND’s throat, but i’m pretty sure those statements would have elicited an entirely different set of responses from the (mostly) learned commentariot frequenting this site.

  9. sinister23 - Aug 28, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    ND will drop 5 games this yr

  10. necr0philia - Aug 28, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    Go Temple! ND doesn’t have a chance with Tommy Boy as QB! Temple will only lose “IF” the Refs help ND again like last year! ND fans you know what I’m talking about! ESPN knows what I’m talking about! The Refs know what I’m taking about! Go Temple!

    • shamrocknroll - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      Uhhhhhhhh…somebody get this guy his meds.

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