The Zips will host Temple Nov. 13 -- a Friday night -- at InfoCision Stadium. It is a game that almost certainly will have MAC East ramifications.
2008 recap: Temple is a team that was much better than its 5-7 record. The Owls suffered close defeats to Connecticut, Buffalo, Western Michigan, Navy and Kent State. If everything went perfect, 5-7 could have been 10-2. Temple finished the season with a 27-6 victory over Akron. The Zips moved the ball well, but they struggled to score in part because of Chris Jacquemain's three interceptions. The game was tied with 10 minutes left; Temple blew the game open shortly after. ... The Owls were dead last in the MAC in yards of total offense. Their defensive stats weren't very good either. Quarterback Adam DiMichele was the real reason Temple was in most games. His throwing and running were invaluable to the team. Also, consider that it was 18 years since Temple last won five games.
What they lost: Temple didn't lose many players, but the ones who left made an impact. For example, DiMichele has graduated (can't we find a verb that means "has expended his eligibility" because I don't know if DiMichele has really finished his 128 -- or however many -- credit hours?). Center Alex Derenthal and receiver Bruce Francis were second- and third-team all-MAC selections, respectively. The Owls' biggest defensive loss is All-MAC tackle Terrence Knighton. Second-team kick returner Travis Shelton is another casualty.
2009 preview: Temple does return a lot of experience: "21 starters to 17 positions," as the media guide puts it. The primary question is, Who can replace DiMichele? Two candidates have some experience in filling in for their predecessor. Vaughn Charlton played some in 2007, completing 59 percent of his passes, and throwing three touchdowns and one interception. Chester Stewart, the other candidate, got the snaps last year when DiMichele was out. He completed 50 percent of his passes, with four touchdowns and seven interceptions. The winner will have a couple of experienced receivers to catch the ball. At running back, the depth chart lists Lamar McPherson as the starter, despite the Syracuse transfer only tallying one rushing attempt in 2008 -- and no, he was not injured. The back who took the most carries was then-freshman Kee-ayre Griffin, and he's now listed as the backup. ... Nose tackle Andre Neblett, a second-team all-MAC selection in 2008, is the defensive anchor. Temple's safeties are talented, too. Similar to J.D. Brookhart, coach Al Golden handles the Owls' special teams.
How the Owls will test the Zips: The Owls have pulled in terrific recruiting classes since joining the MAC. Every year, the team has improved. If the quarterback excels, this year is almost certainly to be the one where the team competes for its first divisional title. You can be sure the defense will be among the best. Plus, Golden is a Zip killer. He has beaten Akron the past two years.
How the Zips will test the Owls: Temple's running game was impotent last year. There is little reason to believe that will improve. The Zips' passing game will excel against almost every team on the schedule. Temple is no different. The Owls may be bringing back a load of letterwinners, but they lost their most talented players. Programs like Temple don't just "reload."
Way-too-early prediction: Akron consistently puts up points. Temple plays from behind all game. The Zips win a close one. Temple 26, Akron 31
Rivals.com provided a well-written feature about Zeke Marshall and his decision to attend Akron.
MAC coaches should pay attention to how Keith Dambrot pulled off the biggest coup in conference history.