Halfway There

It's the midway point of the season and the Owls are 4-2, about where they were expected to be. They came through a tough three-game stretch against Penn State, Maryland and Toledo at 1-2 and beat three teams handily. The Owls are where they need to be as they chase a MAC title.

It's the midway point of the season and the Owls are 4-2, about where they were expected to be at this juncture.

They came through a tough three-game stretch against Penn State, Maryland and Toledo at 1-2 – winning the game against Maryland that most looked like a loss at the beginning of the season, and beating three teams handily.

The bottom line is Temple is where it should be and needs to be as it chases a Mid-American Conference title, leading the East Division as it heads into a favorable second half of the schedule.

Here's a position-by-position breakdown on what has played out over the first six games.

Quarterback

Once Temple decided on a football coach back in December, the next big decision was quarterback. Halfway through the season, it seems like Chester Stewart has a firm grasp of the quarterback position after three starts, but one or two rough outings could make the position an open competition again.

Stewart ran the spread offense with aplomb against Maryland and Ball State but struggled like the rest of the team against Toledo.

"He played tough, he played physical, he went and got first downs," said first-year head coach Steve Addazio of Stewart's performance against Ball State. "If we have a quarterback playing hard and not turning the ball over, we're playing the way we're supposed to be playing."

Mike Gerardi did a solid job in the first two games of the season and if protection hadn't broken down on the last play against Penn State, he might have thrown the winning touchdown pass and still been the starter – or perhaps president of the University.

But his two interceptions against the Nittany Lions prompted the shift to Stewart, who has more athleticism for running the spread than Gerardi.

Sophomore Chris Coyer has also opened some eyes with two runs of 68 or more yards in limited action.

Running back

Bernard Pierce is living up to expectations – 2010 expectations.

Pierce was never really healthy in his sophomore year, one which started with Heisman talk and ended with him finishing second on the team in rushing yards behind Matt Brown.

He already has 692 yards and 15 touchdowns this season – the latter leading the country – and most importantly has stayed healthy. Penn State and Toledo did contain him somewhat in the Owls' two losses, but he is having a year which could lead to him jumping to the NFL after this season if that is his wish.

After some offseason problems, Brown has started to round into form, rushing for 323 yards.

Redshirt freshman Myron Myles was slowed in camp by injuries and hasn't made an impact.

Wide Receivers

Seniors Joe Jones (17 catches, 281 yards) and Rod Streater (11 receptions, 205 yards) have had solid seasons, though Deon Miller has just eight catches total after starting with four on opening night against Villanova.

The Owls would like to develop some depth there, especially since their two leading receivers are seniors, though an understandably conservative game plan has kept the passing numbers down.

Offensive line

With the exception of the Toledo game, the offensive front has been sound opening holes for the running backs and giving the quarterbacks decent time to throw, allowing just 10 sacks.

With four of the five starters seniors, Addazio has admitted some concern over depth. The Owls survived an injury to starting center John Palumbo this week, but that is one spot it had an experienced backup in Jeremy Schonbrunner.

"We're trying to create some depth, you have to have certain guys ready to roll," said Addazio.

Tight ends

Evan Rodriguez has been outstanding as the Owls' leading receiver, catching 19 balls for 281 yards and a touchdown and Temple has gotten solid play out of their blockers like Matt Balasavage and Cody Booth.

Because of training camp injuries, Alex Jackson – expected to play a big role in the offense – has been a non-factor offensively.

Defensive line

Defensive end Adrian Robinson has already surpassed last year's sack total with four and has been disruptive in the backfield. Converted tight end Morkeith Brown has two sacks on the opposite side, where the Owls have also received some decent play from John Youboty.

The individual stats might not indicate the middle of the line is doing the job, but the team stats do as the Owls are holding opponents under 100 yards per game on the ground, and Addazio praised the work of sophomore Levi Brown.

Linebackers

Defensive coordinator Chuck Heater called this the most surprising unit on the team after the win over Maryland because of the inexperience coming into the season.

The Owls' linebackers have been outstanding, starting with senior middle linebacker Stephen Johnson, who has 52 tackles. Tahir Whitehead has played up to expectations, and Blaze Caponegro is blossoming at WILL, where Ahkeem Smith has also played well.

Secondary

Another position of strength for the Owls, they have received six interceptions from their safeties – including five from starters Justin Gildea and Kevin Kroboth – and have seen redshirt freshman cornerback Anthony Robey develop to the point where he has bumped some veterans from starting spots.

The Owls have to like their starting four and their depth here.

Special Teams

Matt Brown is averaging over 28 yards per kick return and 10 yards per punt and has been explosive as a returner. Kicker/punter Brandon McManus has shown the ability to handle both roles after a bit of a slow start on field goal attempts.

Addazio stresses special teams and the results have been positive.

Coaches

Heater's defense is getting pressure and keeping teams out of the end zone. Offensively, the Owls have had so much success running downhill the spread offense of Addazio and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler hasn't been completely unleashed.

The results of a coaching change aren't known for years, but right now the Owls are about where they would have expected to be at this point in the season as far as record and they certainly haven't taken any steps back.

Owls Daily Top Stories