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100 Days to Kickoff: Opponent Previews - Temple

Let’s take a look at the team whose head coach we stole!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 24 Temple at UConn Photo by Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Georgia Tech’s game against Temple is one that quite a few people have marked on their calendars. It will mark new Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins’ return to Philadelphia, where he served as the head coach at Temple for two years. For some reason, the first game of this home-and-home is in Philly, but it should be a fun road trip for anybody going to the game!

Last Season in Review (or... The End of the Geoff Collins era and the entirety of the Manny Diaz era)

After a rough start to the season, which featured losses to Villanova and Buffalo, Collins’ squad really came together and won eight of its final 11 games, with those losses coming to Boston College, UCF, and Duke (though this loss came after Collins accepted the Tech job).

Following Collins’ departure, the Owls thought they had brought in a solid coach in former Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Well...the Manny Diaz era didn’t last very long. With former Miami coach Mark Richt announcing a surprising retirement, Miami quickly worked to bring back Diaz to take that role, leaving Temple to scramble to find a new head coach. They found that coach in Rod Carey, who previously served as the head coach at NIU.

Key Departures

RB Ryquell Armstead - Armstead was the main running back for the Owls last season and finished with over 1,100 yards and had six 100-yard games. At 5-11, 215 pounds, Armstead was mostly reliable throughout the season. The Owls were pretty balanced on offense, but spread the ball around more in the passing game with no receiver having more than 690 yards.

DT Michael Dogbe - Dogbe was one of the workhorses on the defensive line for Geoff Collins and Andrew Thacker last season. He finished with a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. He also forced three fumbles.

CB Rock Ya-Sin - The one member of Temple’s defense last season to become a draft pick, a second-round pick by the Indianapolis Colts, Rock Ya-Sin was a formidable corner for the Owls. He led the Owls in pass break-ups with 12 and added in a couple interceptions.

S Delvon Randall - Rock Ya-Sin wasn’t the only member of that secondary that was good, though. Delvon Randall arguably had a better season than him over at the safety position by doing a little bit of everything. He led the Owls with 85 tackles and four interceptions.

Key Returnees

QB Anthony Russo - Russo became Temple’s starting quarterback following the Owls’ second loss, and they never looked back. He wasn’t perfect, but was still very serviceable, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for over 2,500 yards and threw 14 touchdowns. He also threw 14 interceptions.

WR Branden Mack - Mack will serve as Russo’s main target over at wide receiver. He was the No. 2 guy last year behind Ventell Bryant, but finished with 601 yards and five touchdowns.

DE Quincy Roche - Now that Dogbe has graduated, Quincy Roche is the main workhorse of the defensive line. He finished right behind Dogbe with nine tackles for loss and six sacks.

KR/PR Isaiah Wright - Normally, I wouldn’t include a return man in this kind of list, but Temple has a really good one in Isaiah Wright. He brought back two punts and a kick for touchdowns. He is a guy that Tech will need to keep an eye on.

2019 Outlook

With Rod Carey coming in as the head coach, the Owls will be moving into more of a traditional spread offense presumably, similar to what he ran with NIU, though from what I’ve heard about some of the boosters at Temple, we may see something a little more conservative.

On defense, Carey brought his coordinator from NIU, and that’s good news for the Owls.

Jeff Knowles’ two seasons at NIU were revelatory. He crafted a system that not only teed off on QBs when given the chance — ends Sutton Smith and Josh Corcoran combined for 25 sacks in 2018, and NIU was ninth in overall sack rate — but, despite personnel that was of average size at best, attacked the run maybe even better. The Huskies were fifth in Rushing S&P+ and second in rushing marginal efficiency allowed. — Bill Connelly

Bill C. has Temple at a projected 7.4 wins, so that would put them right about where they were last year. This game feels like it has a good chance to catch the Yellow Jackets off guard. Temple is a solid team and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is a game I think Tech should win, but I don’t know that I’d put money on it if I were a betting man. I hope they prove me wrong though!