|Temple Owls RB Montel Harris was one of few bright spots in 2012. (US Presswire)|
Temple (4-7, 3-5 Big East)
Expectations: Of the three non-bowl qualifiers, Temple was arguably the most impressive. Little was expected of the Owls, a team transitioning back to the Big East after several years toiling in the MAC. Still, Temple had come off a string of winning seasons and bowl appearances, so despite facing an uphill battle there was some guarded optimism in Philly. The transfer of Boston College's Montel Harris -- once the ACC preseason offensive player of the year -- provided hope for a team totally committed to the run. Harris, coupled with senior running back Matt Brown, represented an explosive backfield capable of busting big plays. There was concern, rightfully, with regards to the Owls' passing game. Temple, as it turned out, was not a good passing team. Overall, though, the Owls were about as decent and competitive as everyone expected.
What went wrong: In general, Temple just had trouble stopping people. Growing pains were expected due to the switch in competition, and the Owls defense was simply incapable of holding Big East offenses in check. Temple only held one conference opponent -- lowly UConn -- to fewer than 28 points. The Owls' comeuppance was during a four-game stretch when they loss to Big East royalty Louisville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Rutgers by a combined score of 161-54.
When it went wrong: The aforementioned stretch of four games really set the Owls back. Coming into those games, Temple was 3-2 with a couple of narrow losses to Penn State and Maryland. The Owls looked to have an outside chance at becoming bowl eligible, but those four straight losses put them back in their place.
Biggest overall disappointment: QB Chris Coyer. By season's end, the junior quarteback's numbers weren't bad. He accounted for 10 touchdowns and just four interceptions, but he wasn't nearly effective enough through the air to keep opposing defenses honest. He threw for just 946 yards total, and he never eclipsed 200 yards passing in a game. Pretty easy for a defense to stop you if they know what's coming.
Bright spots: Harris. It took a while, but Harris finally became the back he was expected to be after starting the season banged up. Harris finished with a flourish, including a record-breaking seven-touchdown, 351-yard effort against Army. The bad news, of course, is that the Owls won't see Harris anymore -- except on Sundays.
2013 outlook: The Owls were one of many teams forced to go searching for a head coach in the offseason, though it wasn't by choice. Former coach Steve Addazio bolted for his "dream job" at Boston College, leaving Temple somewhat in a lurch. Addazio had been a solid recruiter, and he appeared to have a direction in mind for the program. On comes Matt Rhule, a former assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants. By most accounts, optimism isn't too high for the Owls in 2013.
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