TC Preview: Secondary

Temple will be replacing one starter at the corner in Kee-ayre Griffin and another at free safety in Kevin Kroboth. Fifth-year senior Vaughn Carraway, so far blocked in his career by the Owls' depth at safety, seems ready to take over Kroboth's spot, while Anthony Robey and Zamel Johnson - both coming off injuries - will be key at the corners.

As the only freshman starter last year, Anthony Robey was a key member of the secondary until a sprained ankle suffered in mid-season cost him a good chunk of the second half.

Zamel Johnson was also a key member of the secondary as a sophomore last year, making nine starts. After missing spring with a shoulder injury, the former transfer from Hofstra should be another corner to watch as a junior in 2012.

Defensive coordinator Chuck Heater admitted the health and production of both players were keys to success in Temple's first season in the Big East.

"As a starting point for us, guys have to cover man coverage," said Heater. "Zamel missed the spring because of his shoulder and Robey missed a bunch of the fall. Mo (Maurice Jones) plays nickel, Abdul (Smith) did a good job in the spring. We have three corners coming in, and hopefully from that mix we can find enough guys to go out and cover people."

The Owls will be replacing one starter at the corner in Kee-ayre Griffin and another at free safety in Kevin Kroboth. Fifth-year senior Vaughn Carraway, so far blocked in his career by the Owls' depth at safety, seems ready to take over Kroboth's spot.

"(Carraway's) not had much of a career so far, but he's got some talent," admitted Heater. "He did some things in the spring that were eye-opening for me, we're excited about it. If he could have a really good year, that would help us. Our free safety is an important guy. He handles a lot of problems that happen in the passing game, and in the running game he's a guy that has to make plays. He shows the ability to do that.

"He's had decent guys in front of him, but he's been a little inconsistent. He's made some adjustments, he's focused and he's ready to be that guy. The opportunity to be that guy is there and he's able to respond, certainly better than he was a year ago."

The strong safety will be the most experienced starter in reliable Justin Gildea, who brings 21 career starts into the season. He posted 51 tackles and a team-best three interceptions a season ago.

"Leadership is how you go about your business in a lot of cases, and he goes about it very well," said Heater.

Heater said there would be an opportunity for some of the younger players to make an impact as Robey did as a redshirt freshman a year ago. True freshman defensive back Nate Smith, out of Archbishop Wood High School, is probably the most likely immediate impact player.

"In the back end, yeah, right away we're going to give those guys an opportunity to see what they can do, if they can help us," said Heater.

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