Can the Owls become the fourth of those eight first-timers to walk out of the House that Rockne Built with a win? Owlsdaily.com senior writer Bill Evans stops by to answer my questions leading into Saturday's contest.
Question #1: What gives Temple a chance to turn this into a fourth-quarter game?
Evans: The element of surprise. Temple has a new head coach, new coordinators and new quarterback, which could all work as negatives as the Owls face one of the best teams in the country on the road. But it also means the Irish won't have much film to go on in terms of preparing for the Owls. Temple is going from a team on offense which at times threw the ball less than 10 times a game to a team that expects to throw more than run, so it will be challenging for Notre Dame to game-plan.
Question #2: Where are the Owls vulnerable, or how could the game get away from Temple, early?
Evans: The Owls' coaching staff is high on redshirt junior Connor Reilly, but he has never thrown a pass in a collegiate game. In spring 2012, he was fourth-string quarterback and the starting right fielder for the baseball team.Nerves and inexperience could play a role. The offensive line will have to keep the Irish's strong pass rush off Reilly and give him time to settle in. If there are sacks or turnovers early, they could find themselves in an early hole.
On defense. the Owls have had trouble finding starting safeties. They could be vulnerable to the deep ball and big play.
Question #3: What type of offense will new head coach Matt Rhule bring to South Bend?
Evans: Temple runs a pro spread. Rhule spent last season as an assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants and he has implemented a lot of their philosophies. Expect to see multiple personnel groups. They can run three wide receivers or three tight ends, and quarterback turned H-back Chris Coyer could line up wide, in the backfield or even under center. They are going to try to establish the passing game.
Question #4: Which defensive players or which unit could shine vs. the Irish?
Evans: Mike linebacker Tyler Matakevich was a freshman All-American last year and will be in on a lot of tackles. Defensive end Sean Daniels, who has a brother, Mike, who plays for the Green Bay Packers, is Temple's best pass rusher. Defensive tackle Levi Brown ties up blockers in the middle, and could be more of a play-maker himself this year than he has been in the past.
Question #5: What is the realistic Temple fan's expectation for 2013?
Evans: Temple made the move to the Big East – now the American Athletic Conference - last year after graduating a tremendous senior class and finished 4-7. I think most Owls fans would be pleased with 6-7 wins and a return to a bowl game for the third time in five years considering the transition in the coaching staff and at some key positions.