CFN Take: Temple Slips By Tulane
Temple Owls 2014 ...
Head Coach: Matt Rhule
2014 Temple Owls
Dec. 6 Temple 10, at Tulane 3
Aug. 28 at Vanderbilt W 37-17
Sep. 6 Navy L 31-24
Sep. 13 OPEN DATE
Sep. 20 Delaware State W 59-0
Sep. 27 at Connecticut W 36-10
Oct. 4 OPEN DATE
Oct. 11 Tulsa W 35-24
Oct. 17 at Houston L 31-10
Oct. 25 at UCF L 34-14
Nov. 1 East Carolina W 20-10
Nov. 7 Memphis L 16-13
Nov. 15 at Penn State L 30-13
Nov. 22 OPEN DATE
Nov. 29 Cincinnati
Dec. 6 at Tulane W 10-3
And You Care Because … In a game full of offensive futility, Temple broke a 3-3 tie with just under nine minutes to play on an eight-yard Romond Deloatch touchdown catch and the D took care of the rest. Tulane scored first on a 28-yard Andrew DiRocco field goal, and Temple tied it in the second on a 37-yard Austin Jones field goal.
What Else? Third down conversions: Tulane 2-of-17 – Temple 1-of-13
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 20-of-38 passes for 255 yards and a score with a pick, and ran 16 times for a team-high 76 yards
- Tulane QB Tanner Lee completed 16-of-33 passes for 109 yards, Nick Montana completed 3-of-7 passes for 42 yards with an interception
- Total yards: Temple 347 – Tulane 266
Game Rating: D+
Nov. 29 Cincinnati 14, at Temple 6
And You Care Because … The Bearcats earned a piece of the AAC title, getting all the points they’d need in the second quarter on a three-yard Mekale McKay touchdown catch and a one-yard Mike Boone run. The defense did the rest, setting up the first score on a forced fumble, and allowing just two field goals. The Owls got a 30-yard Austin Jones field goal in the first, and a 31-yard kick in the third, and that was it.
What Else? Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 19-of-31 passes for 174 yards and a score
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 19-of-35 passes for 196 yards, and ran 12 times for 33 yards
- Time of possession: Temple 33:06 – Cincinnati 26:54
- Total yards: Temple 267 – Cincinnati 255
Game Rating: C
Nov. 15 at Penn State 30, Temple 13
And You Care Because … Penn State forced five turnovers to overcome a sloppy game of its own, but it took a while to pull away. The game was tied at six in the second half, but Akeel Lynch tore off a 38-yard touchdown run and Bill Belton ran for an eight-yard score to give Penn State a 20-6 lead, but Temple answered right back on a 75-yard Jalen Fitzpatrick touchdown catch. The Nittany Lions scored ten unanswered points on a Grant Haley pick six on Sam Ficken’s third field goal of the game.
What Else? Penn State RB Akeel Lynch ran 18 times for 130 yards and a score
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 17-of-38 passes for 187 yards and a score with four picks, and led the team with 32 rushing yards on five carries
- Penalties: Temple 10 for 69 yards – Penn State 5 for 45 yards
- Turnovers: Temple 5 – Penn State 3
Game Rating: C
Nov. 8 Memphis 16, at Temple 13
And You Care Because … Jake Elliott hit a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give Memphis the tough win. Elliott also connected from 42 and 27 yards out, and Brandon Hayes caught a 17-yard touchdown pass to overcome an early 10-0 deficit. Temple managed two Austin Jones field goals from 43 and 46 yards out, and Kenneth Harper ran for a 75-yard touchdown, but the offense only managed the second Jones field goal after the first quarter.
What Else? Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 21-of-28 passes for 230 yards and a score
- Temple RB Kenneth Harper ran 17 times for 116 yards and a score
- Memphis WR Mose Frazier caught eight passes for 110 yards
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 16-of-37 passes for 140 yards and an interception
Game Rating: B
Nov. 1 at Temple 20, East Carolina 10
And You Care Because … The Owls shocked the Pirates with a 63-yard fumble return for a score from Tavon Young and a one-yard scoring dash from Kenneth Harper in the first quarter, and put it away on two-yard Harper run in the third. East Carolina managed a 39-yard Warren Harvey field goal in the second quarter, but didn’t get into the end zone until just over two minutes to play on a two-yard Marquez Grayson run. The Pirates were a disaster, losing five fumbles and committing 12 penalties.
What Else? Total yards: East Carolina 428 – Temple 135
- East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 24-of-41 passes for 217 yards
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 7-of-19 passes for 70 yards and ran 11 times for eight yards
- East Carolina RB Chris Hairston ran 21 times for 153 yards
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 25 at UCF 34, Temple 14
And You Care Because … UCF’s D came up with four takeaways, and the O got up early with 17 first quarter points helped by the first of two Justin Holman touchdown passes and the first of two short scoring runs from William Stanback. Temple tried to must a rally, getting a three-yard Romond Deloatch catch and a blocked punt for a score in the second, but UCF scored ten unanswered points as Shawn Moffitt hit his second field goal and Stanback ran for a two-yard touchdown.
What Else? Third down conversions: 11-of-20 – Temple 3-of-13
- UCF WR Breshad Perriman caught seven passes for 146 yards and a score
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 15-of-26 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, and ran nine times for six yards
- UCF RB William Stanback ran 27 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 17 at Houston 31, Temple 10
And You Care Because … Houston took advantage of a sloppy game with four takeaways and two touchdown passes from Greg Ward Jr. to come up with the easy win. Trevon Stewart took an interception 29 yards for a Cougar touchdown, and Ward Jr. found Deontay Greenberry for a seven-yard score and Ryan Jackson for a 30-yarder for a 31-10 third quarter lead. Temple’s lone touchdown came on a 39-yard Keith Kirkwood catch late in the first half.
What Else? Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. completed 29-of-33 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 13 times for 44 yards
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 12-of-29 passes for 259 yards and a score with three picks, and ran eight times for 49 yards
- Turnovers: Temple 4 – Houston 0
- Penalties: Temple 11 for 88 yards – Houston 10 for 106 yards
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 11 at Temple 35, Tulsa 24
And You Care Because … Temple rallied in the fourth quarter on two P.J. Walker touchdown passes, hitting Jalen Fitzpatrick on a 30-yard play for the lead, and a 20-yard play to Jahad Thomas to put it away. Walker also ran for a touchdown for the owls, and Kenneth Harper and Connor Reilly added short scoring runs, but two turnovers proved to be costly as Tulsa stayed alive on two Dane Evans touchdown passes and two Zack Langer field goals. But the Owls took control in the fourth quarter.
What Else? Time of possession: Tulsa 36:34 – Temple 23:26
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 15-of-31 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and ran for a touchdown
- Tulsa RB Zack Langer ran 30 times for 113 yards and a touchdown
- Temple RB Jahad Thomas ran 14 times for 152 yards, and caught a 20-yard touchdown pass. Jalen Fitzpatrick (107) and Jamie Gilmore (100) each hit the 100-yard mark.
Game Rating: B-
Sept. 27 Temple 36, at Connecticut 10
And You Care Because … P.J. Walker threw a touchdown pass and ran for another, and Tavon Young returned an interception 93 yards for a touchdown as Temple rolled past a mistake-prone UConn. Up 7-3 going into the second half, the Owls had no problems scoring 21 straight points on a 42-yard pass play to Jalen Fitzpatrick and with a fumble return for a score by Praise Martin-Oguike to go along with Walker’s one-yard run. UConn’s lone touchdown came on a 74-yard Arkeel Newsome touchdown catch in the third, but Temple scored eight unanswered including a safety.
What Else? Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 20-of-29 passes for 231 yards and a score, and ran for seven yards and a score
- UConn QB Chandler Whitmer completed 12-of-23 passes for 163 yards and a score with a pick
- UConn turned it over seven times and committed seven penalties with one wiping out a touchdown
- Time of possession: UConn 35:28 – Temple 24:32
Game Rating: C-
Sept. 20 Temple 59, Delaware State 0
And You Care Because … Temple enjoyed a record-setting day, easily outclassing FCS Delaware State. The Owls exploded for a school-record 49 first-half points before going on to register their largest margin of victory in the modern era. They dominated in all phases of the game, allowing head coach Matt Rhule a rare opportunity to empty out his bench over the final 30 minutes.
What Else? For all the scoring that Temple did, the team could have executed better. QB P.J. Walker threw a pair of interceptions, and the ground game averaged only 4.3 yards per carry.
- Delaware State QB Gilbert Rivera could not withstand the pressure he faced from the Owls. He completed just 9-of-19 for 56 yards and three interceptions.
- The Temple D allowed just 93 total yards to go along with the shutout. The Owls forced nine punts, and were never really threatened for allowing Delaware State to get on the board.
- How feeble was the Delaware State offense? Of its seven first downs, three came on Temple penalties.
Game Rating: F
Sept. 6 Navy 31, at Temple 24
And You Care Because … Navy survived after cranking up a 31-14 lead helped by Keenan Reynolds touchdown runs from 48 and three yards out, and scoring plays seven yards away by Geoffrey Whiteside and a 24-yard dash from DeBrandon Sanders. Temple kept fighting, with an Austin Jones field goal and a 13-yard Jalen Fitzpatrick touchdown catch making it a seven-point game, but Navy held on. The Midshipmen ran for 487 yards and held on to the ball for over 36 minutes – Reynolds ran 21 times for 173 yards and two scores.
Game Rating: B
Aug. 28 Temple 37, at Vanderbilt 7
And You Care Because … After a weather delay, Temple shocked Vanderbilt with seven takeaways and 30 unanswered points highlighted by a 55-yard Averee Robinson fumble recovery for a score and two touchdown passes from P.J. Jones and a three-yard scoring run. Vanderbilt only scored on a fumble recovery in the end zone in the second quarter.
What Else? If there was ever a team that looked like it needed a preseason tune-up, it was Vanderbilt. The QB situation is a mess – Stephen Rivers, Patton Robinette and Johnny McCrary all played, all had problems – and the seven turnovers were embarrassing. It’s impossible to have a worse debut than Derek Mason’s.
- Give Temple credit for being sharp from the start, even though it only converted 2-of-17 third down chances. P.J. Walker was terrific, completing 23-of-34 passes for 207 yards and two scores, with a rushing touchdown, and spreading the ball around well. The running game didn’t really work, but the defense picked up the slack.
- Everyone seemed to get in on the act. Temple got production from just about everywhere defensively. Ellis Avery came up with two sacks, Tyler Matakevich tied for the team lead with six tackles, Tavon Young made two picks, and overall, the energy was terrific.
- The Commodore offensive line looked like it was two steps too slow. Vanderbilt seemed confused and indecisive. The quarterback issues had a lot to do with that.
Game Rating: D+
2014 Temple Owls
Temple has a glimmer of hope now that the coach and the quarterback are starting their second years together in Philly.
Sure, the Owls still have a long way to go in the talent department compared to the balance of the American Athletic Conference. But, the current hint of optimism around the program can be traced directly to the returns of second-year head coach Matt Rhule and second-year QB P.J. Walker. Both showed potential as well as rookie inconsistency in their debuts. Walker brought a heavy dose of much-needed excitement to a struggling team, accounting for 23 touchdowns after becoming Rhule’s starter in early October.
The Owls love what they’ve seen so far from Walker. Now they’ve got to surround him with more talent, and collaboratively learn how to finish. In 2013, Temple took part in seven games decided by 10 points or fewer—and lost all seven during a 2-10 campaign. None of the close losses was more frustrating than the one versus UCF, who’d go on to win the American and the Fiesta Bowl over Baylor. The Owls had the Knights on the ropes before losing in the final minute, 39-36. Frustrating, yes. But encouraging as well, since Walker went toe-to-toe Blake Bortles on that afternoon at the Linc.
For the Owls to gradually climb the American ladder, they’ll have to resume developing players the way former head coach Al Golden did from 2006-2010. Golden and his staff were masterful at turning marginal recruits, by other’s standards, into all-stars and NFL timber. In 2011 and 2012, five of Golden’s kids were drafted, headed by first-round DT Muhammad Wilkerson. It’s up to the new regime to coach up the next generation of Owls, especially the ones playing in the trenches.
For good reason, Temple is optimistic about its offense. There’s Walker and a system that won’t be so unfamiliar to the quarterback’s teammates. The defense, on the hand, remains a liability. While LB Tyler Matakevich has been revelatory the past two seasons, his supporting cast is suspect. The Owls not only ranked last in the American in total D, but they were 110th nationally at 474 yards allowed per game. If coordinator Phil Snow’s unit can’t carry a little more of the weight, Temple will be dragged into shootouts, week-in and week-out.
Temple is moving in the right direction, even if the measure of progress is incremental. The Owls should be more competitive now that both Rhule and Walker have that debut season in the rear view mirror. And if the team can learn how to finish games, it’s going to spoil an opponent or two’s season in the fall.
What to watch for on offense: Who protects the franchise? In P.J. Walker, Temple is set at quarterback for the foreseeable future. And the running game has two potential feature backs, Kenny Harper and Zaire Williams. But, who’ll be blocking for the team’s best playmakers? While mainstay C Kyle Friend has 21 career starts, no other Owl lineman has started more than three career games. Even more precarious for the offense is the possibility that a redshirt freshman, Leon Johnson, could be protecting Walker’s blindside this fall.
What to watch for on defense: An influx of talent in the secondary. Temple needs reinforcements in the defensive backfield after allowing almost 300 yards a game through the air. It’ll get that infusion from a recruiting class littered with possibilities. CB Anthony Davis turned down offers from Penn State, Mizzou and Nebraska, and Cequan Jefferson, Shahid Lovett and Alex Wells are JUCO transfers. Wells, in particular, has been so impressive in practice that he’s about to lock down a starting free safety job.
The team will be far better if… it finishes what it starts. The Owls had a habit of getting out of the gate quickly, only to fade down the stretch in tight games. In fact, of the seven games decided by 10 or fewer last year, Temple dropped all of them. The team won the first half of games, 175-158, but it lost the second half, 200-124. The Owls need to grow up and figure out how to bring it for all 60 minutes.
The Schedule: The Owls start out going to Vanderbilt for one of two nasty non-conference road games, also going to Penn State in mid-November, and the road slate in conference play isn’t much easier. Three of the first four American Athletic games are on the road, going to Connecticut, Houston and UCF, but Tulsa, East Carolina and Memphis come to Philadelphia. There’s a week off before the final home game against Cincinnati, and the season closes out at Tulane.
Best offensive player: Sophomore P.J. Walker. Walker gives Temple so much more than a young quarterback to build around. He gives the team much-needed hope. He’s the franchise for head coach Matt Rhule and the Owls, a fresh face who’s capable of bringing a little more juice to the program. Walker’s poise and his ability to make things happen with his arm and his feet will give Temple a shot against opponents who otherwise have an edge in overall talent. It’s early, but Walker could become the Owls’ best hurler since Henry Burris was on campus two decades ago.
Best defensive player: Junior LB Tyler Matakevich. At the midway point of his college career, Matakevich is well on his way to becoming one of the most decorated Owl defenders in school history. After debuting as a surprise Second Team All-Big East pick in 2012, he earned First Team All-AAC a year ago with 137 stops. The proverbial tackling machine, Matakevich operates with the right amount of intensity and skill in space to attract the attention of NFL scouts in two years.
Key players to a successful season: the offensive linemen. If the Owls are going to surprise anyone this season, it’s sure to be driven by a young offense beginning 2014 with momentum. And for that offense to reach its potential this fall, it’s incumbent upon the blockers to give the playmakers the time needed to keep opposing defenders out of the backfield. It’ll be a particularly important offseason for position coach Chris Wiesehan, whose job it is to cobble together a competent two-deep.
The season will be a success if ... the Owls go 4-8, doubling their win total from a year ago. A small step, sure, but one the program can further build upon in 2015. Besides the Sept. 20 visit from Delaware State, Temple faces a tough road slate that includes trips to Vanderbilt, Houston, UCF and Penn State. Visits from Navy, East Carolina and Cincinnati will be tall orders, too. Beyond the record, the Owls are hoping to turn a couple of last year’s close calls into locker room celebrations.
Key game: Sept. 27 at Connecticut. If Temple is ready to climb a little higher in the American, it’ll win this type of a game against a Husky team doing its own rebuilding under first-year head coach Bob Diaco. The Owls have won two of the last three meetings, including the last game at Rentschler Field in 2012. Since Delaware State precedes the UConn game, Temple is going to have a chance to carry some momentum into a challenging slate of October games.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Passing yards per game: Temple 249.7 – Opponents 298.6
- Sacks: Temple 19 – Opponents 32
- Red-zone touchdown%: Temple 70% - Opponents 50%
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