You hover your remote control around ESPNU and silently curse when you discover no college football games from the previous year will be replayed for the day. The thought of watching one of the Notre Dame games you recorded the previous fall crosses your mind, but what would be the point? You’ve already taken copious amounts of notes from your film breakdown and sent them stamped and sealed to Brian Kelly. Though he never responded, you know it’s because your brilliance left him speechless. “You’re welcome, Kelly,” you say aloud to your dog, Gipper, who naps on the couch.
You watch the NFL Combine and talk to whoever will listen about 40 yard dash times and vertical jumps. You congratulate yourself when you win the championship in your NCAA Football ’13 online dynasty, noting with pride it was your study of how San Francisco runs the read option that made the difference. When you ask your girlfriend if you can go ring shopping, she leaves the room in disgust when she realizes you meant a ring for your Xbox championship, not for marriage. “She’s just jealous,” you say to Gipper, still asleep on the couch. “Doesn’t she know she’s dating a genius?” you ask, returning to the Excel spreadsheet that is your recruiting board.
Welcome to the doldrums. With college and pro football having been finished for a few weeks, the reality of the drought and withdrawal is starting to hit home. With nearly a month to go before Junior Day and close to two months before the Spring Game, now is a perfect opportunity to begin focusing on Notre Dame’s 2013 opponents. In the next several weeks UHND will break down the recruiting class of every opponent Notre Dame will face this coming fall, starting with the Temple Owls.
On August 31st, Notre Dame will literally kick off its season in South Bend against a new face to the Big East in the Temple Owls. The Philadelphia-based university has had a great deal of success in recent years, at one point posting a 17-8 record in back-to-back seasons and winning their first bowl game in decades in blowout fashion against Wyoming. Temple’s on the field production was enough for former Owls head coach, Al Golden, to take his talents to South Beach, and persuasive enough for Temple to reunite with the Big East conference after an eight year separation.
Unfortunately for Bill Cosby’s alma mater, the momentum stopped there. In 2012 Temple began its Big East schedule, recording a lackluster 4-7 record, with two of those victories courtesy of Villanova and Army Temple is unlikely to become a serious threat in recruiting, but as Al Golden proved during his
tenure in Philadelphia, player development can go a long way in picking up the slack. Temple finished 84th in the 2013 Rivals recruiting rankings, signing 22 players. Though none of the recruits were within the Rivals 250, the Owls did manage to snag several players with ranking within their respective positions.
Jarred Alwan, LB. A 3-star ranked as the 43rd best inside linebacker. Notable offers include Boston College and West Virginia.
Matt Barone, OL. Barone is listed as the 17th best center and also held an offer from Connecticut.
Zaire Williams, RB. A 3-star running back holding the rank of 36th best running back. Notable offers include Iowa, Pittsburgh, Purdue, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Sometimes the greatest setback a program can suffer isn’t missing on a desired recruit, but rather losing a player to graduation. Temple took its lumps in its first season of Big East play, with a sputtering offensive rank of 107 and a porous defensive rank of 90. The lone bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season was the Owl rushing attack, mustering a respectable 31 st ranking, headlined by former Boston College transfer Montel Harris. Harris shouldered the load for the Owls’ ineffective offense, rushing for 1,054 yards on 186 carries, earning an impressive 5.67 yards per carry in addition to his 12 rushing touchdowns. In one game alone Harris broke a Big East rushing record, amassing 351 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The loss of Harris to graduation is a crushing blow to an already anemic offense. Head coach Matt Rhule – who spent the 2012 season as an assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants – has attempted to patch the large hole by signing three running backs in the 2013 class, and landing a potential successor in Zaire Williams. Williams’ offer list, peppered with programs such as Iowa, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin, is worthy of note. Still, asking any player to step in as a freshman and fill the shoes of a player who scored 12 touchdowns is a daunting task.
Temple vs. Notre Dame Recruiting Battles
Despite Temple’s poor record last season, they shouldn’t be taken too lightly. Though they were largely outclassed by the likes of Louisville, the Owls still managed conference victories over South Florida and UConn. Still, this should be a very winnable game for the Irish, especially given the loss of Montel Harris.
Temple finished with the 84th ranked recruiting class in 2013, a fitting number considering the Owls finished with the 84th ranked scoring offense in 2012. With the likely emergence of Everett Golson and the return of many defensive stars, this should be a game where Notre Dame takes care of business.