With a new coordinator in Dave Patenaude, Temple's offense will have a different look, with a more up-tempo pace but also more two-back sets.

That puts more emphasis on the running backs, although the running game in the past was a major part of the offense.

Just like last year, one of the keys will be not only the starter but the depth in the backfield. Last season, the Owls' leading rusher was Jahad Thomas (953 yards, 13 touchdowns), who will be a potential NFL draft pick this month.

Ryquell Armstead, who will be a junior this fall, rushed for 919 yards and 14 touchdowns. With Armstead the clear No. 1, it will be important for someone to take the backup role. That's why Jager Gardner, entering his junior year, should be a key part of the attack.

A series of nagging injuries limited Gardner to 29 carries last season. Now he is healthy and looking to have a much greater role.

"I feel I can help the team in different ways, such as blocking and catching," Gardner said Tuesday after practice. "I am not banged up and can do those things now."

Redshirt junior David Hood and sophomore Isaiah Wright are among others who could fit in the mix. The multidimensional Wright could also be used as a slot receiver.

New running backs coach Tony Lucas said he was emphasizing more versatility in the backs. Last year, Thomas was a major receiving threat out of the backfield with 33 receptions for 418 yards and a team-high six touchdown receptions. The rest of the running backs and fullbacks had 16 receptions.

"It is a focal point to have these guys more involved [in the passing game]," Lucas said.

He also is looking for depth, realizing that as impressive as Armstead was, he can't carry the entire load.

"Just the nature of the game, to make it through a 12-game season, you have got to have flexibility," Lucas said. "With the wear and tear on backs and the pounding over the course of the year, you have to keep guys fresh over the second half of the year, and a rotation will help."


Coach Geoff Collins has said during spring drills that some players will work out on both sides of the ball. During practice Tuesday, standout receiver Keith Kirkwood was playing defensive end. Last year, tight end Romond Deloatch also lined up at defensive end. Even though he was known more for his offense, Deloatch had four sacks in his senior season. . . . Collins said he has hired Vince Sinagra, 64, as the team's chief of staff. Sinagra will assist Collins and work as a liaison to the equipment, training, and other staffs.