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Temple's Matt Rhule Has Owls Back to Relevance in Third AAC Season

Temple Owls Head Coach Matt Rhule turned a 2-10 anemic football team into a 6-6 contender in 2014. Can his team take the next leap to the upper echelon of the AAC in 2015?

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A team searching for stability, the Temple Owls finally have found their man to lead them back to prominence. In 2012, Matt Rhule, former Owls' offensive coordinator and New York Giants' assistant offensive line coach, came to North Philadelphia looking to build a brand of football.

Former coaches and players spoke highly of the newly initiated head coach after Temple signed Rhule.

"Matt is a good, young coach. He has very good command, and is thorough and detailed in his assignment and with personnel. He has outstanding background of the game, and the players like and respect him. He will be a great representative of Temple University and the leader of that football program," said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.

After a tumultuous debut for Rhule in which Temple finished 2-10 in 2013, many questioned whether the Owls found the right successor to Steve Addazio who bolted for Boston College. It's not like the head coach inherited prominent talent either; he shuffled through three quarterbacks before finding gem P.J. Walker buried on their depth chart.

Walker headlined a new-look spread attack, focusing on short passes and simplistic play calling en route to a breakout 2013 campaign that accumulated a 20:8 touchdown to interception ratio and 2,084 yards through the air. Walker also was invited to the illustrious Peyton Manning Passing Academy working alongside Heisman Trophy winners Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.

Rhule appeared to find his signal caller, but the defense has been volatile under his tenure.

The Owls 37-7 throttling of Vanderbilt in the season opener in Tennessee made 2013 look like an anomaly. A defense ranked 84th in the nation the previous season, per sportsreference.com, accumulated seven forced turnovers.

That would be the norm throughout the season. The revamped and opportunistic defense shined in 2014, spearheaded by juniors Tyler Matakevich and Tavon Young. Rhule transformed that 84th ranked defense into the 4th ranked scoring defense per sportsreference.com.

After Temple's 10-7 victory over Tulane in the season finale, the NCAA revealed the 2014 bowl schedule and the Owls were not invited to the party. At 6-6, the team finished fifth in a four bid AAC conference. Rhule addressed the positives in his final press conference, including beating an SEC team, a top 25 team and winning six games. All of these were definitely worthy accomplishments.

2014 definitely left Rhule with a positive outlook for a head coach looking to build his brand of football.