By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Believe it or not, college football season is quickly approaching and on Monday the Temple Owls hit the practice field, opening preseason camp.
It’s the first preseason camp for Matt Rhule as head coach. He took over for Steve Addazio after last season. Of course, he is no stranger to Temple fans. He had served six seasons as an assistant with the Owls before a stint with the NFL’s New York Giants.
“This is a great day for us,” Rhule tells KYW Newsradio. “We’ve been building for this since January and it’s fun for us to finally get started with the players.”
The Owls are coming off a 4-7 campaign and will play this season in the American Athletic Conference. Rhule thinks he has a lot to work with here in 2013.
“I feel pretty good about our offensive line and our wide receiver position,” Rhule says. “Really some positions that were kind of question marks going into the spring. On the defense, our defensive line is an experienced group and our linebackers won some awards last year, we have some dynamic players there. Guys like (sophomore) Tyler Matakevich, who was last year’s Big East Rookie of the Year. So we have good players coming back at those positions and we’ll just have to use this time to put some other guys around them, to win.”
Temple has enjoyed incredible depth at running back over the past few seasons with the likes of Bernard Pierce, Matt Brown and Montel Harris. But they are now all gone and Rhule says finding someone to take their place as the leader of the ground game is critical to their success this season.
“For us to be what we we’re expecting to be, we need to have one of those running backs step up and emerge and carry the load for us,” Rhule says. “So there is probably no more critical position at this point than the running back position.”
The 2013 season begins for the Owls on August 31st when they travel to Notre Dame. Temple’s home opener is set for September 7th against Houston at the Linc.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.