The Temple Owls come into Saturday's game hoping to get their first win of the season. The Owls have lost their last two games by three combined points and they had the ball with three minutes left a few weeks ago against Houston with a chance to win. Unfortunately, an interception and game sealing touchdown ended their upset bid. I know its not saying much, but this Temple team is much better than its record states. We all know how many breaks Louisville caught last year to be undefeated at this point. Temple is literally a handful of plays away from being 3-1 coming into this game.
The passing game of the Owls has been erratic at best. Starter Connor Reilly has been the main guy running the offense and he has a good amount of talent. The issue, as with most guys that haven't played much, is how inaccurate he is. Reilly has a pretty big arm and he makes decent decisions with the ball. He just doesn't always hit the open guy. Temple's offensive style is similar to last year as it is a spread concept with a solid running game. Rhule and his staff needs Reilly to get it going in the passing game if this offense is to have any success for the rest of the season, however.
Temple lost both of it's starting running backs from last year. Montel Harris and Matt Brown were a solid 1-2 punch and Harris had a very good game last year. This year, Kenneth Parker and Zaire Williams have combined to make a formidable duo for the Owl's offense. Parker is the bigger back and fits the offense well. They run a lot of quick inside runs and Parker tends to fall forward and rarely gets pushed back. Williams is an outside threat in the option game. He's had a few decent "chunk" runs and can make people miss in the open field. If they can keep the game close, Temple has enough with its backfield and playcalling to get a few first downs and keep the defense a little more fresh.
The Owl's perimeter talent is very lacking. Jalen Fitzpatrick returns and he is really still the only threat to make a play outside. Ryan Alderman is having the best season out of the receivers, but he isn't the talent that Fitzpatrick is. Chris Coyer, who started at quarterback in last years game, is a very solid tight end now and at least adds another option for the offense. The issues for this team as a whole start with this unit. They don't make enough big plays and it allows the defense to tee off all game. I don't really see that changing Saturday.
The offensive line has done a pretty good job even though they've given up ten sacks so far. They've mostly been coverage sacks. They keep a pretty clean pocket for the most part and they haven't given up a ton of negative yardage plays outside of scrambles by their quarterbacks and their quarterbacks just flat out holding onto the ball too long.
KEY PLAYERS: QB Connor Reilly, RB Kenneth Parker, RB Zaire Williams
If Temple could give their defense some time to rest, they'd have won at least two of the games they lost. They would also look a lot better on paper coming into this week. When you're playing close games its imperative that your defense doesn't stay on the field too long. We've all seen a late drive in a close game and the defense just can't get a stop. Temple is very bad a two things that help a defense, scoring in the redzone and time of possession. Those two things have made it hard for their defense to stop teams consistently.
With all that being said, Temple isn't very good on defense. Yes, it needs more help from the offense, but it also has to get more stops and make big plays of their side of the ball. They don't have an interception this season. That makes them one of two teams in the entire country. That wouldn't be so bad if they weren't also the third worst pass defense in the nation, also. They get decent pressure on the quarterback with seven sacks on the season. They just can't cover anyone.
The front seven is led by the nation's second leading tackler Tyler Matakevich and all-name first teamer Blaze Caponegro. Nate D. Smith who formed the best freshman duo of linebackers with Matakevich last year has been moved to defensive end (not sure why). Matakevich is coming off a 24 tackle game and is just as legit as his ridiculous numbers indicate. The front seven has made a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage and they do a pretty good job in spurts. But it is very hard to maintain a high level of play when you're on the field a lot and you don't have a lot of depth. Temple is insanely young and the two-deep is littered with guys that are playing in their first handful of games. The defensive backs will have to step up if they want to stay in this game. Because Teddy Bridgewater against one of the nation's worst pass defenses speaks for itself.
KEY PLAYERS: OLB Tyler Matakevich, OLB Blaze Caponegro, DE Nate D. Smith, FS Abdul Smith
- Tyler Matakevich really did have 24 tackles last week.
- Matt Rhule is one of the youngest coaches in the country.
- Temple lost to Fordham on a Hail Mary.
- Temple has 45 freshmen on its roster.
- Seriously, they have a linebacker named Blaze.
- Teddy has more touchdowns than Temple's entire team.
- UofL scored as many points against FIU as Temple has scored all season.