The Temple Owls had a magical 2015 season with 10 game wins, securing the AAC East division, and making it to the Boca Raton Bowl.
Majority of the Owls' success came from their fantastic defense that had three caliber NFL players in defensive lineman Matt Ioannadis, linebacker Tyler Matakevich and cornerback Tavon Young. These three players helped the Owls move up in rankings (18th in the nation) and held opponents to 20.1 points per game played.
Despite the defense being one of the best in the country the Owls' offense wasn't too shabby either, thanks to the backfield combination of quarterback P.J. Walker and running back Jahad Thomas. Walker had a solid season passing for 2,972 yards, 19 touchdowns, and eight interceptions, which was a drastic improvement from his sophomore year.
However, Thomas was the standout star between the two and showed his dominance in the Owls' regular season opener against the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Owls' defense caused havoc sacking Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg 10 times.
Thomas carved up the Lions' defense to the tune of 135 rushing yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. Despite his 5-foot-10 and 188-pound stature, he wore down the Nittany Lions' defense, finding lanes and bouncing multiple runs to the outside for huge gains.
Thomas' 135-yard performance was one of the main reasons Temple upset the Nittany Lions. The Penn State victory would be a launching pad not only for the Owls but for Thomas as well. Thomas went on to have five games of 100 plus rushing yards and scored a rushing touchdown in 10 straight games.
His best game of the season came against Central Florida, when he had 199 rushing yards on 31 carries and three touchdowns. Thomas finished the 2015 season with 1,262 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. He also showed that he can be a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield with 216 receiving yards.
Thomas' 2015 rushing numbers helped the Owls' offense be ranked 61st in the country in points per game (29.8). He also surpassed his 2014 rushing total (384).
After having an amazing 2015 campaign what does Thomas have in store for this season?
With his high school teammate in Walker returning for his senior season, there is no reason why Thomas cannot surpass his 2015 rushing total. Last season he showed that he is capable to carry a heavy load behind an offensive line that only lost center, Kyle Friend to the NFL.
Nevertheless, looking at this season's schedule, Thomas will be facing the same conference foes and out of conference going up against Stony Brook, Army, and Penn State. The Penn State game on Sept. 17 will be a tough game as the Nittany Lions' defense will try to contain Thomas. However coach Rhule and his staff will make it a key to get him the ball in Thomas' hands.
Without the outstanding three playmakers that Owls had on defense, it will now be up to the offense to do some of the heavy lifting. With a running back like Thomas he's capable of doing that and if he can then we may have ourselves a rematch of last season's AAC championship game.