DE Mike Mendenhall

2004 Statistics

Coach: Bobby Wallace
19-60, 7 years
2004 Record: 2-9
at Maryland LOST 22-45
at Toledo LOST 17-45
at Rutgers LOST 6-16
at Connecticut LOST 31-45
at West Virginia LOST 21-42

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

With the uncertainty of this program, it is time to flash forward to what the cards hold for the school. After the Owls were booted from a Big East already struggling to make up for the defections of Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech and Boston College, football appears/ed to be in peril here. The university looked into folding the program during the winter, as three players (including Washington and Rian Wallace) decided to leave early for a try at the NFL. When the team may not even continue to exist, on-field dilemmas seem both exponential and trivial, simultaneously, in importance to solve for any kid – a player must think, “if I fail, the team may fold” while at the same time reacting to “how our off-field situation seems more important than the games themselves”, an unfair combination of pressures to put on these 18-22 year olds. Bobby Wallace, in the final season of his contract, won't even discuss his future. All of these intangibles make the glass “half empty”, for sure.

The 50-year-old coach, who recruited Bo Jackson at Auburn and won three Division II national titles at North Alabama, deserves better. It won't happen this year, not with nine bowl-eligible teams from '04 on the schedule. But there are rays of hope for the years beyond -- the program is apparently headed for the Mid-American Conference, where it would fit in much better. (Lincoln Financial Field would have to impress a MAC recruit).

Like last fall, this would be a great time to make an on-field statement. That appeared more likely a year ago, when Washington and Rian Wallace were legit talents leading their respective sides (of the ball) that seemingly had fewer holes than this year's group. Looking at their ACC- and MAC-rich schedule, there's really no gimme, with the possible exception of Middle Tennessee State.

There's potential here for an upset, maybe two. Remember, this team ruined a possible BCS bid for Syracuse last fall. Those small steps are the best-case scenario for a program that has a long way to go. Hopefully for Temple fans, Bobby Wallace remains to see a successful transition to the MAC in 2006.

For college football fans, it is scary to think that this formula could be repeated and essentially dissolve any team that does not play well enough. As any quality coach teaches, there is as much to learn in losing as winning, and if we genuinely think we are progressing within student-athletics (if Temple football is the example), then embracing a team’s losing nature and making it into a winner is the answer to situations like this, not dissolving these kid’s chance at scholarship athletics.

The NCAA needs to make sure that, like it does when an athlete accepts free shoelaces or an unauthorized ride to practice, it applies itself to this situation so that, for all, decisions are ultimately made to protect the participating players and therefore the (longterm) integrity of the game, and ultimately each participating I-A program (who would be next?) Like the baseball example of the Montreal Expos, stepping in to secure the team’s continued existence would signal the governing bodies want for these scholarship players to get the academic-athletic experience for which they gave of themselves in their prime years. For such a quality academic institution, this would be a sad ending if allowed to play out.

Projected 2005 record: 2-9
RB Tim Brown
QB - 3 DL - 2.5
RB - 3 LB - 1
WR - 2 DB - 2.5
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Mike McGann, 12-7-0, 165 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Umar Ferguson, 104 att., 493 yds., 2 TD

Receiving: Tim Brown, 33 rec., 199 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Ryan Lux, 9-17 FG, 27-28 PAT, 54 pts.

Punting: Mike McLaughlin, 34 punts, 36.5 avg.

Kicking: Ryan Lux, 9-17 FG, 27-28 PAT, 54 pts.

Tackles: Durrel Davis, 77 tot., 38 solo

Sacks: Mike Mendenhall, 3.5 sacks

Interceptions: Jermaine Hargraves, 2 for 14 yds.; Andrew Turner, 2 for 0 yds.

Kickoff returns: Travis Shelton, 13 ret., 20.4 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Tim Brown, 5 ret., 2.4 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Phil Goodman-WR, Ikey Chuku-WR, Buchie Ibeh-WR, C.J. Blomvall-C, Frank McAndrew-OG, Jamil Porter-KR, Walter Washington-QB (NFL)
DEFENSE: A.J. Lindsay-DT, Eric Carpenter-DT, Troy Bennett-SLB, Sadeke Konte-OS, Lawrence Wade-SS, Rian Wallace-WLB (NFL)

The early leap of Walter Washington to the NFL is softened, somewhat, by the return of former starter Mike McCann for a fifth season. The red-headed drop-back bomber has 26 starts on his résumé, having held the job in 2002 and half of '03 before being replaced by the more versatile Washington, who then became the team's offense. McCann has the experience and tools to be a solid passer, especially as Temple goes from the spread to a more conservative two-back look. He'll have to cut down on critical mistakes, something coach Bobby Wallace has said occurred once or twice per practice this spring. His 37:22 INT: TD ratio says much. Any mistakes will hurt his role as the elder leader of this offense, an important role usually, but especially critical, for an offense lacking confidence. With no depth to write about here, his teammates’ confidence (in his abilities) becomes vital.

Running Back
Tim Brown, who scored the game-winning TD in the “Cherry and White” game, emerged as the starter after having a solid spring. The former Juco all-American started all but one game last fall, looking less special then than he did at C.C. of San Francisco. With leading rusher Washington gone, and the no-huddle one-back spread replaced with the “I”, look for Brown to resemble his Heisman-winning namesake a little more. The slick speedster will again be a top target out of the backfield, but he'll need to use those jets to do more after catching the ball. Umar Ferguson, the team's No. 2 rusher behind Washington, should see his share of carries out of the fullback spot while using his power to open holes for Brown. Unfortunately for Wallace, Ferguson was knocked out of spring practice on day one, so we'll have to wait to see who comes out at the FB position.

This group is thin and relatively inexperienced, increasing Brown's importance in the passing game. Last year's top three wideouts are gone, leaving junior sprinter Jamel Harris (Z) as the closest things to a deep threat. Brian Allbrooks (Y), the top returning wideout (20 catches), has some starting experience and should be the go-to target. Mike Holley, a small converted-QB with nice speed, takes over at the X and should be a decent option on short routes. Juco-transfers Chris Bryant, Rony Saintil and Fred Lee will provide much needed depth. Overall, this group will be overmatched much of the time against the level of opposition on the schedule and will need plenty of help from the running game.

Tight End
The TE will likely be used a little more under new OC Willie Slater. Then again, that's not saying much -- this position has accounted for only nine grabs in the last three seasons, combined. RS freshman Leyon Azubuike took advantage of senior Anthony Martinez's absence (recovering from knee surgery) to move atop the depth chart. Lining up opposite ( honorable mention preseason all-American DE) Mike Mendenhall, Azubuike was/is forced to improve as a blocker. It's an even better sign that he was picked as one of the most improved players on offense this spring. It probably wasn't for his hands, though -- he caught one pass in each of the two intrasquad scrimmages and was shut out in the Cherry and White game.

Offensive Line
Four-fifths of this unit (which improved slightly on a disastrous ’03 effort) return. But with a less mobile QB behind them, the sacks (29 allowed last fall) could be back on the rise. The line has a decent set of bookends in tackles John Gross and Elliot Seifert, both strong guys who have been academic all-Big East picks, while returning RG Stephen Bell missed all of the spring with mono. The big question heading into the spring was center, which was apparently answered by the improved play of redshirt freshman Alex Derenthal. This group hasn't shown it can thrive on pass protection, so quicker releases from McCann and greater use of the run would be wise.

With a fifth-year guy at QB, don't expect many changes in the passing scheme under Slater, who directed Wallace's offenses at North Alabama. However, with a thin WR corps and a line that's inconsistent in pass protection, Slater would be wise to rely more on the ground game, as he's promised. Bell and Ferguson could be a thunder-and-lightning combo, and the line at least has experience, depth and cohesion on its side. Unlike previous years, the pass should now be used to set up the run. With a meek-looking defense, scoring just 21.6 points per game and failing 73 percent of the time on third-downs just won't cut it. Because he's the closest thing to a playmaker left after Washington's departure, Bell will be used as much as possible to keep opposing defenses off guard. But it all starts with McCann, who must play like the fifth-year senior he is while avoiding the injuries that have plagued him.


OT John Gross


Returning Starters in bold
QB Mike McGann-Sr (6-6, 225) Philip Simpson-So (6-2, 255)
RB Tim Brown-Sr (5-8, 185) Umar Ferguson-Sr (6-0, 215)
Michael Billops-Sr (5-8, 184)
WR Mike Holley-Sr (5-10, 180) Michael Loveland-Jr (5-0, 185)
WR Brian Allbrooks-Sr (5-11, 180) Lester Shelton-Jr (5-10, 180)
WR Jamel Harris-Jr (6-1, 185) Bruce Gordon-Jr (5-11, 190)
TE Leyon Azubuike-Fr (6-3, 235) Anthony Martinez-Sr (6-4, 250)
OT John Gross-Sr (6-6, 295) Tariq Sanders-Jr (6-6, 310)
OG Sam McNaulty-Jr (6-3, 320) Leigh Denman-Jr (6-6, 315)
C Alex Derenthal-Fr (6-4, 280) Joe Johnsonbaugh-Sr (6-0, 285)
OG Stephen Bell-Sr (6-4, 310) Stan Primus-Sr (6-4, 315)
OT Elliot Seifert-Jr (6-7, 300) Jabari Ferguson-Fr (6-4, 290)
K Ryan Lux-Sr (6-3, 200) Danny Murphy-So (5-8, 170)



Defensive Line
This is the strength of an otherwise questionable defense. Mendenhall is the best player on this team, though the Owls could use a little more than the 3.5 sacks he produced last fall (Temple accounted for just 13 sacks, overall). He'll have more help, though, with the return of senior NT Antwon Burton (broken foot), who had a solid spring. DT Adam Fichter and DE Rodney Wormley aren't quite as strong and athletic as Mendenhall and Burton, but they're close. Expect to see LB Christian Dunbar, who started at TE last year, moved up as a rush end on a frequent basis to improve that anemic pass rush and take the double-team off Mendenhall. Depth is a problem, especially as Fichter struggles with a stress fracture in his leg. Nehemiah Ingram, a 6-8, 275-pound walk-on from John Chaney's (roundball) squad, is an X-factor. He looked tough “gooning it up” on the hardwood, but hasn't played organized football since ninth grade. Obviously, he follows coaches’ instruction(s) well.

DC Raymond Monica needs someone to step up after the loss of both starters. Look for redshirt freshman Rick Costa, listed at No. 2 behind converted lineman Manuel Tapia at WILL, to work his way into the starting lineup. Bobby Wallace was impressed with his ability to cover ground and deliver big blows. Dunbar is a more athletic option at SAM than current starter Ryan Gore. This young unit should be quick, aggressive and deep, and the experience up front will free them up to make plays. In the Cherry and White game, the offense was limited to 3.8 yards per carry, but ... that was inter-squad, and foes will assuredly bring more wood (weekly).

Defensive Back
Unfortunately, these guys often made McCann’s look like Joe Montana this spring. There must be drastic improvement, especially considering the number of pass-happy teams they will be facing. Three of the seven faces (who saw significant starts) in Temple’s five-DB sets are gone, which is mixed fare for a 94th-ranked pass defense (111th in efficiency) that grabbed just eight picks. Though his tackling can be erratic, FS Durrel Davis is a good hitter and the unit's leader. Both outside safeties will be inexperienced, but the move of Miami-native Willie Hardemon to SS from FS (to back up senior Bobby Fulmore) should help. Bobby Wallace likes his corners, four of which have started, so light defines this tunnel’s end. Andrew Turner is an athletic player who should be the top cover guy, while Ray Lamb, who missed the spring with a knee injury, could be a nice complement if healthy. The speed of the LB corps should help stymie underneath routes, while the line looks ready to offer a quicker pass rush. There's some reason for optimism here, but, most likely, these guys will find themselves repeatedly overmatched and overcooked.

With the exception of the front four, this defense will find itself in plenty of mismatches due to a talent deficit. Offenses will look to pick apart that nickel defense through the air, opening up the run. So, the key will be in devising zone schemes that confuse opposing QBs enough while hoping for an improved pass rush and run D. Wishful thinking? Most likely, yes. Unless there was some serious addition by subtraction among the five departed starters, it's quite likely this defense could be as bad as the one that allowed nearly 440 yards and 37 points per game last fall.


DB Durrel Davis


Returning Starters in bold
DE Mike Mendenhall-Sr (6-3, 250) J.C. Braker-Sr (6-5, 240)
NT Antwon Burton-Sr (6-3, 315) Randy Johnson-Sr (6-1, 305)
DT Adam Fichter-Sr (6-4, 300) Neil Dickson-Jr (6-4, 280)
DE Rodney Wormley-Sr (6-3, 240) ..
SLB Ryan Gore-Jr (6-0, 225) Vince Yasenchak-So (6-1, 245)
Christian Dunbar-Sr (6-2, 235) (TE)
WLB Manuel Tapia-Sr (6-3, 235) Rick Costa-Fr (6-1, 235)
OWL Justin Johnson-Sr (6-1, 205) Lambert Watts-Sr (5-11, 185)
CB Andrew Turner-Sr (6-0, 185) Jermaine Hargraves-Sr (5-10, 175)
CB Ray Lamb-Sr (5-10, 185) David Reese-Jr (5-10, 175)
SS Bobby Fulmore-Sr (6-0, 200) Willie Hardemon-So (5-10, 170)
FS Durrel Davis-Jr (5-11, 185) Garrett Schultz-Jr (5-11, 185)
P Jake Hendy-Sr (6-4, 225) Mike McLaughlin-Sr (6-1, 215)




Ryan Lux, a Juco all-American two years ago, must live up to expectations. He struggled last year, missing five times within 39 yards, including two within 29. Kickoff coverage became a disaster, slipping from tops in the Big East to 108th nationally. On the bright side, he was a big improvement on PATs, hitting all but one…but the Owls need to be sharper than this to win close ones.

The erratic duo of Jake Hendy and Mike McLaughlin, who shared duties in '04, each return after booting Temple to a 94th I-A ranking in net punting. On the bright side, no blocks and just one return for a TD. A little improvement with age isn't too much to ask, especially with a defense that needs the field position help.

Return Game
Graduations leave Brown as the top choice here. He didn't do much in either situation on eight tries, and the return groups as a whole were mediocre. But Brown, who also struggled to break through as a RB in his first year out of junior college, has nice open-field quickness and is a decent bet to improve.