Players to watch: Temple

July, 8, 2013
7/08/13
4:30
PM ET
Today we kick off a new series looking at some of the top players Notre Dame will be facing this coming fall. There are some familiar faces on the Irish's schedule (hello again, Blake Bell and Marqise Lee), but other key rivals are off to greener pastures (goodbye, Denard Robinson and Le'Veon Bell).

Then there are entirely new opponents, like Arizona State. Or today's entry, Temple.

We'll start things off with the Owls, who come to South Bend, Ind., on Aug. 31 for the inaugural game of the Matt Rhule era. Who should the Irish keep an extra eye on?

Offense: Connor Reilly, QB. A new offense under a new coach has given Reilly quite the opportunity this offseason. And to say he has taken advantage would be a massive understatement. Reilly ascended from fourth to first on the Owls' QB depth chart this past spring, as the pro-style passer and dual-sport athlete (he's also played for Temple's baseball team) threw for 366 yards and four scores in the spring game. Two of his competitors for the job have switched positions (Kevin Newsome to H-back; Chris Coyer, last year's starter, to tight end/H-back). Not surprisingly, Reilly was named the team's most improved offensive player this spring.

Defense: Tyler Matakevich, LB. The reigning Big East rookie of the year became the first freshman in school history last year to notch 100 tackles, finishing with a team-best 101. No teammate came within 25 tackles of the newcomer. Matakevich had three tackles for loss, three pass break-ups, a pair of fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. He didn't start until the fourth game of the season, and it's important to remember that the Owls played only 11 contests last year. Matakevich had seven double-digit tackle outings. He was a second-team all-conference pick, a freshman All-American and the ECAC defensive rookie of the year.

Matt Fortuna | email

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