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Top 10 Bearcats: #2 Nick Temple

Nick Temple was a forgotten man in June. Greg Blair and Jeff Luc had long since monopolized the thoughts of Bearcats fans when it came to the potential of the season to come. So much so that Temple, a guy coming into his third season as a starter was marginalized. It took less than three minutes for his presence to be felt.

Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

In retrospect it seems fitting the ESPN play by play announcer mistook  Nick Temple for Jeff Luc. That wasn't a mistake that was made too many times the rest of the year as Temple made play after play for the Bearcats.

The 4-3 system the Bearcats played this year gave the linebackers a lot of responsibility against the run, and perhaps even more against the pass. If they could read the route in their area the linebackers were encouraged to run the route for the receiver. No one did that better than Temple did this season, often times completely erasing the safety valve and forcing QB's to try their luck further downfield. Because of that coverage Temple's stats against the pass aren't overwhelming, a single solitary pass defended, but that is no indication of his coverage this season, he was excellent in pass defense from the word go.

Likewise his ability to sow chaos on opposing offensive lines was evident from the start. But he really came into his own when the Bearcats began to blitz with more and more frequency. Temple isn't an obvious candidate to be a dynamic blitzer. He is the shortest linebacker on the team by a wide margin, and he isn't this hulking behemoth like Luc or Blair are at 250+. But he understands leverage in a way that only shorter men can (speaking from experience) and used his quickness to wrongfoot linemen on blitz pickup. The end result was a 13.5 TFL season with 5.5 sacks to go with that. Not bad for a formerly forgotten man, and a guy who will anchor the Bearcats defense next season.