In 2009, the Temple offensive line was named as the Team MVP during a season in which the Owls broke a 30-year bowl drought.
Last year, the veteran unit took a perceived step back. The Owls rushed for 628 fewer yards – running back Bernard Pierce's injury woes certainly played a factor in the dropoff – and gave up three more sacks in one less game than the year before.
This season, a group that is expected to start four seniors – including many who played roles during the breakthrough campaign two years ago – will be counted on to return to its 2009 form, and new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler sees no reason why it shouldn't.
"They've lost some weight, they're in great shape, (offensive line coach Justin) Frye is doing a wonderful job with them, and it all begins up front," said Loeffler. "If those five guys play, we have a shot in every single game we tee up on Saturday. It all starts with them."
The current starting five based on the pre-camp depth chart includes 150 career appearances and 77 starts – not including right tackle Martin Wallace's season as a starter at Northeastern before transferring to Temple last year. Wallace, a junior, is the only non-senior of the starting group.
Left guard Derek Dennis has played in the most games (39 with 19 starts), while center John Palumbo has recorded the most starts (26 in 34 games). Left tackle Pat Boyle (29 games, 10 starts) and right guard Wayne Tribue (36 games, 20 starts) are also battle-tested veterans.
"We need great leadership out of (the offensive line)," said Loeffler. "We need great toughness out of them. There's going to be five seniors. This should be their best year of football. As they go, we go."
As much as the Owls have a balanced group of probable starters, they have some backups with experience that could push the front-runners.
Loeffler said both Steve Caputo (25 games, 15 starts) and Sean Boyle (25 games, one start) should be ready to start the season after suffering season-ending injuries last year, while left tackle Darryl Pringle played in 12 games as a freshman and senior center Jeremy Schonbrunner has 18 games to his credit.
Like every other player on the offense, the line will be trying to learn and execute new head coach Steve Addazio's offense.
"It's all going to be competition in two-a-days," said Loeffler. "If we win enough in the trenches this year, we have a chance to be a productive offense."
Camp Preview: Offensive Line
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