Temple finished last season with a record of 10-4 and the defense was a huge reason for their success. The Owls' defense surrendered 20.1 points per game, which was good for 18th in the nation. Last season, Temple's defense was led by three outstanding seniors in defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis, linebacker Tyler Matakevich, and cornerback Tavon Young.
The trio of defensive superstars spurred some outstanding performances in 2015. The first game that comes to mind is the regular season opener against Penn State, which set the tone for the entire season. In that game alone, the defense had 10 sacks with Matakevich leading the way with seven total tackles, three tackles for loss, and three sacks.
Another great performance from the defense came against Notre Dame. Temple lost in a nail bitter, but the defense kept them in the game, forcing the Fighting Irish in two turnovers. Once again, Matakevich left his impact on the game with 13 total tackles, a tackle for loss, and an interception.
However, with those three players moving on to the NFL, who will step up in their place?
Here are three players to watch for this season:
1. Haason Reddick - Reddick, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound defensive lineman out of Camden, New Jersey, began to come into his own last season. While all the praise and attention went to Ioannidis and Matakevich, Reddick quietly had 45 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and five sacks. His 12.5 tackles for loss, was good for ninth in the AAC.
However, his production did not go unnoticed in 2015 as he was named All-Conference Honorable Mention by the American Athletic Conference.
In the offseason, Reddick received another accolade as he was named to Bruce Feldman's Top 20 Freaks in college football. Feldman says Reddick is the Owls' version of Von Miller and head coach Matt Rhule compared him to former Penn State defensive lineman Aaron Maybin. That is high praise for a player, who was a former running back in high school.
Don't be surprised if Reddick replicates the same numbers he did last season, bringing the toughness to Temple's defense.
2. Sean Chandler - Last season, Chandler had the luxury of playing on the opposite side of Tavon Young and reaped the benefits of it, showing teams that he is also a factor in the secondary. While Young had only one interception last season, Chandler had four interceptions to go along with 65 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and an astonishing 14 pass deflections.
To be a successful cornerback in Temple's defense, you have to be physical and not afraid to tackle. Chandler fits that mold as a sophomore last season, his 14 pass deflections put him third in the AAC and 32nd in the nation.
Chandler is always around the football and when the ball is in the air, he'll always make a play on it. If opposing teams thought they got a break this season with no more Young, they get to see Chandler on an every week basis.
3. Praise Martin-Oguike - Finally, sticking with the defensive line, Martin-Oguike has been a consistent player on the Owls' defense. Last season was somewhat of a down year for the 6-foot-1 lineman as he only had 30 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception.
Despite, his numbers being down in 2015, he is an effective pass rusher with a nose for the football and can occasionally drop back in coverage.
Nevertheless, while he may not put up the numbers that Ioannidis or Reddick had last season, he will still play a huge part in the Owls' defensive scheme.