Spring Is Here

The second spring practice season under second-year Temple football coach Matt Rhule begins on Monday and it couldn't be more different than the first. To start, because of resurfacing of Chodoff field at Edberg Olson Hall, the Owls will be vagabonds this spring, practicing at area high schools – predominantly at Camden High School in South Jersey where Temple opens practice this week.

The second spring practice season under second-year Temple football coach Matt Rhule begins on Monday and it couldn't be more different than the first.

To start, because of resurfacing of Chodoff field at Edberg Olson Hall, the Owls will be vagabonds this spring, practicing at area high schools – predominantly at Camden High School in South Jersey where Temple opens practice this week. The Cherry and White game on April 26 will be played at Cardinal O'Hara (Pa.) High School in Springfield, Delaware County.

Only the 14th practice – the last before the Cherry and White Game – is currently scheduled on campus, at Geasey Field.

But the site isn't the only change. Last year, the Owls were installing a significantly new offense which centered around the pass after two years of former coach Steve Addazio's spread option attack.

While the Owls were staying in the 4-3 defense, they made philosophical changes from former defensive coordinator Chuck Heater to Phil Snow.

In addition to coaching changes and scheme changes, the other biggest story in last year's camp was the quarterback position, which was completely up for grabs. In an upset, redshirt junior Connor Reilly emerged on top of a competition which also included former starters and seniors Chris Coyer and Juice Granger.

But this year couldn't be more different in that P.J. Walker is the Owls' firmly established starter after taking over the position from Reilly in the middle of his true freshman season.

Stability at the quarterback position is something the Owls haven't had since current receivers coach Adam DiMichele played his final snap in 2008.

The Owls will continue to develop what became an explosive offense behind Walker, but will do so without wide receiver Robby Anderson, who is no longer with the program after a breakout sophomore campaign. Other weapons return including running backs Zaire Williams and Kenny Harper and wide receivers Jalen Fitzpatrick and John Christopher.

Junior center Kyle Friend will be back to anchor the line, but the Owls will have to find some new starters – including at left tackle, where Cody Booth graduated after a solid season following a move from tight end.

Temple will need to fix a defense that was a train wreck for the better part of the 2013 season, particularly in the secondary. Freshman defensive back Cequan Jefferson – a mid-year enrollee from Fork Union Military Academy – will compete for one of the spots in the secondary and the Owls will also look for improvement from their current crop of players including Anthony Robey, Tavon Young, Nate L. Smith and Jihaad Pretlow.

While the Owls are sound at linebacker – where Tyler Matakavich and Nate D. Smith among others return – they'll be looking to improve a pass rush that along with a spotty secondary was at the root of the Owls' trouble. Averee Robinson and Julian Taylor could be among the candidates to step up and contribute sacks this season.

Lastly – but certainly not least – the spring could be the start of rebuilding kicker Jim Cooper's confidence. The heralded recruit struggled and lost his spot at the beginning of last season and field-goal kicking was a major problem – the Owls only made three all season.

Finding a kicker and replacing punter Paul Layton – who shined in his one season after transferring from Albany – will be a process that begins this week.

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