Chapelle Russell Out For Season

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As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Marc Narducci first reported, Sophomore linebacker Chapelle Russell is out for the season with a knee injury.

Russell had been the team’s leading tackler up until this point in the season, with 70 total tackles in nine games. He also had 3.5 tackles for loss for a defense that is quickly turning around as the season progresses.

The Temple defense held the top two rushing offenses in the nation in Army and Navy to just 384 yards combined. Both teams were averaging over 300 yards per game entering the game.

While Russell has been notably the best linebacker on the field for Temple this season, the Owls have a young group of linebackers that will look to fill the position.

Lining up next to Russell this season has been Shaun Bradley, who is third on the team in tackles with 57, and nine tackles for loss. Bradley will now look to be the leading tackler on the defense minus Chapelle Russell.

Other options to fill the spot include William Kwenkeu, Sam Franklin, and Isaiah Graham-Mobley. All three have seen significant time on defense this season, and have performed well enough to stay on the field.

As the Owls continue their hunt for a bowl game, they will have to do it without their top tackler in Russell. Temple must win two of its last three games to become bowl eligible. The stretch continues tonight at 7 pm against Cincinnati.

SportsDesk Preview: Temple @ Cincinnati

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An idea that many thought was well out of reach after a devastating overtime loss to Army, is now coming into fruition for Temple in Geoff Collin’s first season. The Owls must win two of the final three games to make a bowl game, and two of which come against teams in Cincinnati and Tulsa, each with a losing record this season. 

First up is the aforementioned Cincinnati Bearcats, a team that lost five straight before last week’s one point victory over Tulane.

For Temple, it is once again a must win to have any hope at making a bowl game. While Cincinnati is a longshot at making a bowl game at this point in the season, the Bearcats will be looking to put a winning streak of their own together as the season winds to a close.

Matchups

Starting on the offensive side of the ball for Temple, Frank Nutile enters his third career start looking to continue his stellar play. In his two starts against Army, and Navy, the redshirt junior has thrown five touchdowns, four of which coming against Navy, and just one interception.

The offense has taken off with Nutile under center, averaging over 30 points per game in the last two games. Along with the play of Nutile, the wide receiving corps has also come to life down the stretch, as Isaiah Wright and Adonis Jennings have been getting open early and often in the past few games.

Wright put together perhaps his strongest performance of the season against Army, with 79 yards, on just three catches, for an average of over 25 yards per catch. The sophomore wideout also made plays in the run game against Army, with 52 yards on four carries, and a long touchdown run to cap it off.

Nutile has thrown five touchdowns to just one interception in his first two career starts

Jennings’ best performance of the season came last week against Navy, as the senior Pitt transfer racked up 127 yards and two touchdowns, including a 40-yard touchdown strike from Nutile in the first half.

“Frank is a leader, he connects with all the receivers,” Jennings said after practice on Tuesday. “He’s just so confident and poised in the pocket, I believe that Frank is a good quarterback.”

The run game has also been improving, as Ryquell Armstead continues to get healthy. Last week, the Owls rushed for 104 yards as a team, while using a trio of running backs in Wright, Armstead, and David Hood.

Armstead’s best outing of the season came against Army, when he rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. The junior running back has been getting more carries the past two weeks, and will look to be the number one back for the remainder of the season.

The defense of Cincinnati has been the strength of the team this season, as it ranks 5th in the conference in total defense, and second in pass defense. Nutile faces his toughest test of the season as a starter, on the road against a strong, playmaking secondary.

The secondary hasn’t been the only unit making plays for the Bearcats, as they also have a strong linebacking corps. Senior Jaylyin Minor has totaled 87 tackles on the season , followed by Perry Young who has collected 76 tackles, and he leads the team with 8.5 tackles for loss.

As a unit, the Cincinnati defense has 46 tackles for loss. The Bearcats will look to put pressure on the Temple offensive line, and Frank Nutile, early and often in Friday night’s matchup.

Defensively for Temple, the Owls have contained the nation’s top two rushing attacks in consecutive games. The front seven of Temple held Navy, who was averaging over 340 yards per game on the ground, to just 136 yards as a team. Quarterback Zach Abbey, who leads the AAC in rushing, was held to just 60 yards on 25 carries.

Much of the success of the run defense can be credited to the strong play of the linebackers. A unit that looked lost against Notre Dame and Josh Adams in week one, has turned into a position of strength on the Temple defense.

Chappelle Russell is the leading tackler on the Temple defense (Zamani Feelings)

Chappelle Russell leads the team with 70 tackles on the season, and 3.5 tackles for loss this season. He turned out another strong performance against the midshipmen, with eight tackles to lead the team. Shaun Bradley has also made his mark this season, with 57 total tackles, and nine tackles for loss through the first 10 games.

Safeties Delvon Randall and Sean Chandler have also been performing at a high level for the Owl’s defense. Randall is second on the team in tackles, with 60, and he leads the team with four interceptions. His ball hawking style of play has transitioned well in the new defensive system, as he leads the team in forced turnovers.

Lining up across from Temple will be a Cincinnati offense that has struggled mightily this season. The bearcats rank dead last in scoring offense in the AAC, averaging just over 20 points per game.

While the team has struggled, quarterback Hayden Moore has put together a solid season, throwing for almost 2,000 yards, and 13 touchdowns. The 6-3 215 lb. junior has spread the ball around to a plethora of different receivers, most notably Kahlil Lewis. The junior wideout leads the bearcats with 48 receptions, 444 yards, and four touchdowns on the season.

As for the Cincinnati rushing attack, the Bearcats use multiple different backs in different situations much like that of the Temple offense. Leading the way is Gerrid Doaks, who has rushed for exactly 500 yards on the season. He is followed by Mike Boone and Michael Warren who have each rushed for over 200 yards on the season, and have a combined four touchdowns.

Moore also contributes to the run game out of the quarterback position, as rushed for 197 yards to this point in the season, to go along with three touchdowns on the ground.

It is a must win game for both teams in the hopes of making a bowl game. The Owls have won the past two matchups, including a 34-13 victory a year ago.

Temple vs Army Postgame Recap

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Army took care of business when it mattered most on Saturday, as the Black Knights scored the final 10 points of the game to beat Temple by a final of 31-28.

It didn’t all come easy for Army, as the team had to rally from a seven point defect with under a minute and a half to go to get the victory in overtime.

Starting quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw gave way to Kelvin Hopkins Jr. on the final possession.

The move turned out to be a good one, as Hopkins hit Jermaine Adams in the back of the end zone to tie it up with one second to go, sending the game to overtime.

Army had the momentum going into the sudden death period, and the Black Knights did not look back.

Bradshaw was held to under 50 yards rushing on the game. (Cred:// usatoday)

Bradshaw came back into the game at the start of overtime, and although Army didn’t put the ball in the endzone, the offense did exactly what it needed to do to win the game. Blake Wilson connected on what could become the game winning field goal from 29 yards out, to give Army the lead.

The Black Knights defense, who was giving up big plays all game, made the stop when it counted as Boumehri sent his 27 yard field goal attempt wide left, it was his second miss of the day.

It was a tale of two quarters in the first half, as army dominated the opening 15 minutes and change.

The Black Knights opened the scoring with a 12 play, 68 yard drive capped off by an 11 yard touchdown run by Darnell Woolfolk. In typical Army fashion, the Black Knights took over seven minutes off the clock, and did not throw the ball once on the drive.

Army subsequently blocked an Alex Starzyk punt on the next drive, setting up good field position at the Owl’s 28 yard line. Bradshaw then completed his first pass of the game for 24 yards to Ejekam. Woolfolk followed the play with a four yard touchdown run, his second of the day.

It did not take long for the Owls to answer, as they drove six plays, for 18 yards in just over two minutes to get on the board.

Isaiah Wright called his own number out of a wildcat formation for a 50 touchdown run. Wright had previously thrown two unsuccessful passes out of the wildcat.

Keeping the momentum in its favor, Temple forced an Army punt on the next possession, leading to a 37 yard strike from Frank Nutile to Addonis Jennings.

The junior quarterback had 55 yards through the air on the drive alone, along with a 13 yard first down scramble to set up the Jennings touchdown.

Sean Chandler intercepted Luke Langdon as time expired in the first half. Langdon was the third quarterback to appear on the final drive of the half for Army.  

The 3rd quarter was a quiet one, as neither team could manage to put any points on the board. Ryqeull Armstead found pay dirt from 43 yards out early in the 4th quarter to give the Owls a 21-14 lead.

Army’s Darnell Woolfolk was quick to answer, scoring on a 44 yard touchdown run of his own midway through the final quarter of play.

Armstead once again gave the Owls the lead with a minute and a half to go, only to have that lead disappear on the touchdown by Jermaine Adams with one second to go.

The Owl’s offense put together its best performance of the season, scoring 28 points against a quality defense in Army. Temple racked up over 500 yards of total offense on the game, 290 of which coming via the arm of Frank Nutile.

 

Nutile controlled the game in his first career start, as he made tough third down throws throughout the contest. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his performance was not turning the ball over on the road, in front of a packed Michie Stadium.

Nutile was certainly helped out by Isaiah Wright, who found himself open countless times on the afternoon. Wright had three catches, for 79 yards, to go along with four carries, for 60 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Running back Ryquell Armstead would have gotten player of the game honors had the Owls pulled this one out.

The junior running back put together his strongest performance of the season, rushing for 151 yards, and two touchdowns, including his 21 yard scamper to take the lead with 1:30 to go in the game.

On the defensive side for Temple, the Owls held Bradshaw, the team’s leading rusher, to just 49 yards on the ground. Linebacker Shaun Bradley led the way for the Temple defensive unit, totaling 11 tackles on the day, and one tackle for loss.

Chapelle Russell also put together a strong performance in the linebacking corps, as he had nine tackles on the afternoon.

Chapelle Russell totaled nine tackles on the day.
(Cred://Zamani Feelings)

While the Owls managed to slow down Bradshaw, they could not slow down Darnell Woolfolk. The junior running back rushed for 132 yards on the day, and three touchdowns, including a game tying touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

The Owls will head into their bye week at 3-5 on the season, and would have to win three of their final four games to become bowl eligible. They do not get a break from the triple option, as they will welcome in Navy, the number one rush offense in the nation.

SportsDesk Preview: Temple at Army

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The road to becoming bowl eligible begins saturday afternoon for Temple as they travel to West Point, NY to take on the Army West Point Black Knights. If the Owls wish to return to a bowl game for the third straight year, they will have to win three of their next five games, with a tough conference schedule remaining.

The Black Knights enter as the last non conference opponent for Temple. The team comes in with a record of 5-2, and winners of their last three games.

Temple will be looking for revenge after dropping the opening game a season ago to Army, as the Black Knights defeated the Owls 28-13 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Matchups

Offensively, the Owls enter last in the AAC in scoring offense, after scoring 24 points against the 10th ranked total defense in the conference, in Uconn. Temple will need to keep the ball on the ground against Army to keep the ball out of the hands of the Black Knight offense.

“Obviously you want to start fast, you want to move the ball,” said Head Coach Geoff Collins in his weekly press conference. “You want to make sure they can’t drain the clock. They’re really good and really efficient in what they do.”

Ryquell Armstead looks to be finally getting healthy, as he scored his first touchdown of the season against the Huskies. A year after rushing for almost 1,000 yards, the junior running back has struggled as the team’s feature back, rushing for just 277 yards to this point in the season.

A bright spot in the run game has been the play of redshirt junior David Hood. Hood has been impressive in the last two games, rushing for over 100 yards against East Carolina, and racking up almost 100 yards through the air against Uconn.

David Hood has become a sold number two running back for Temple

A big question mark heading into this week is the health of Leon Johnson, the redshirt senior left tackle who was injured on just the second play of last week’s loss. If Johnson isn’t able to play, Temple is confident to roll out backup James McHale.

“He did really good, he competed, he fought,” said Collins on Tuesday of McHale. “I thought he and Picozzi did a nice job for us in replacing two of our veteran offensive lineman in Leon and Jovahn.”

As for the passing offense, Logan Marchi is coming off of a performance in which he threw for 356 yards, and a touchdown.

It wasn’t all positive for Marchi against the Huskies, as the redshirt sophomore quarterback continues to have trouble with turnovers. His costly pick six in the second half turned out to be the difference in the game for the Huskies, on their way to a 28-24 victory.

Another noticeable issue on Saturday was the amount of drops by the normally reliable wide receiving corps, including a drop Keith Kirkwood on a fourth and seven deep in Uconn territory late in the fourth quarter.

“We had seven drops in that game, we had two drops on the last drive,” said Collins. “We’ve got to make those plays.”

Lining up across from Temple will be an Army defense that returns seven starters from a season ago. The Black Knight defense enters allowing just over 20 points per game, and under 200 yards through the air.

The vulnerable part of the Army defense is on the ground, as the Black Knights are giving up an average of 170 yards per game. Much like that of East Carolina, Temple should have a favorable matchup against a weak run defense.

 

After losing two starting linebackers to graduation in Andrew King, and Jeremy Timpf, Army has filled in well with two young members of the linebacking corps.

Junior Nachtigal leads the team in tackles with 50 total on the season, along with three tackles for loss. Lining up alongside Nachtigal is sophomore Cole Christiansen, who has totaled 37 tackles on the season.

Another player to note for the Black Knights is senior linebacker Alex Aukerman, who has racked up nine tackles for loss, and five sacks to this point in the season. The strong linebacking corps for Army will look to slow down a Temple rush offense that has struggled greatly this season.

On the other side of the ball, the Temple defense will be missing Sharif Finch for the first half of saturday’s game, as Finch was ejected for targeting in the third quarter against Uconn.

In a game where defensive depth and rotation is perhaps the most important aspect, the loss of Finch in the first half is a tough one, but Quincy Roche and Dana Levine have seen plenty of action this season, and should fill in just fine in the first two quarters.

Going up against a tough and talented triple offense of Army, the Temple defense will have its handful making reads, and playing assignment football against the nation’s number two rushing offense in the nation.

Along with the defensive line, the young linebackers will be a major factor in the game. Both Chappelle Russell and Shaun Bradley have put together strong seasons after the week one blunder against Notre Dame. Russell leads the team with 53 total tackles on the season, followed closely by Bradley with 43 tackles on the season.

Chappelle Russell leads Temple in tackles with 53. (Cred://Zamani Feelings)

Bradley will be the eighth player to wear the number one this week, but he says he will play the same way against Army.

“It means that my hard work is paying off for me a little bit,” said Bradley. “Other than that, I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing.”

Other key players in the linebacking corps have been Sam Franklin, William Kwenkeu, and Isaiah Graham-Mobley.

Safeties Delvon Randall and Sean Chandler will also be challenged with stopping the run, but also staying honest in the event of a rare Army pass play. The duo combine for 15 tackles the last time the Owls faced a triple option offense against Navy in the AAC Championship.

The Black Knight offense is the most unique the Owls have faced to this point in the season, with their dominating triple option attack, propelling them to be the number two rush offense in the nation.

Much of the success of the offense can be accredited to Ahmad Bradshaw. The senior quarterback has rushed for 818 yards on the season, to go along with seven touchdowns. His average of over 115 yards per game has led him to be the eighth leading rusher in the nation. A season ago, Bradshaw rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns against Temple, while completing just one pass for 11 yards.

The vulnerable aspect of the Black Knight offense is the passing game, as Bradshaw has completed just seven of his thirty pass attempts on the season, with two interceptions on the season. As a team, Army has scored just one passing touchdown on the season, and is averaging just 17.9 passing yards per game.

The Owls will be looking to get up early as they did against Navy a season ago, to put the Black Knights in passing situations.

Although Army rarely passes, the Owls defense will not focus solely on the run game.

“With teams like this they expect you to overcompensate for the run,” said Jacob Martin after practice on Tuesday. “The guys on the back end can’t go to sleep, as soon as they see the opportunity to take a shot they will.”

Bradshaw is not the only one carrying the load on offense, as running backs Kell Walker, Andy Davidson, Darnell Woolfolk, and Calen Holt have all rushed for over 200 yards on the season. As a unit, the team is averaging 378 yards per game on the ground, and have scored 28 rushing touchdowns on the ground this season.

Every game the rest of the way is seemingly a must win for the Owls if they want to make a bowl game, and it all starts saturday at West Point.

Follow @TU_SportsDesk for all gameday coverage

SportsDesk Preview: Temple vs. ECU

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A 2-3 record through its first five games, and an 0-2 start in conference play is certainly not the first quarter of the season that Geoff Collins has in mind, but he still believes he has a good football team. The Owls will head to East Carolina this saturday to take on the Pirates in what has become a must win game.

Matchups

Saturday turned into another shaky outing for quarterback Marchi as he followed his three interception game against USF, will another three picks tossed against Houston, although the last came on a hail mary at the end of the game.

After a promising start to the season, throwing five touchdowns and no interceptions through his first three games, the season has quickly gone downhill for the redshirt sophomore quarterback. The Owls rank last in the conference in total offense, and scoring offense. But there are some positives, specifically the second half against Houston.

“The temple of the offense in the second half, the run game looked good,” said Marchi after practice Tuesday. “Anytime we can run the ball like that, we have a great chance of winning the game.”

It was a sort of coming out party for the rushing offense against Houston, as the Owls, who are ranked last in the conference in rush offense, rushed for 142 yards as a team, on 37 carries. Ryquell Armstead and David Hood led the way rushing for 63, and 53 yards respectively.

A major blow to the run game has been the loss of starting left guard Jovahn Fair, who has missed the last two games due to injury. Redshirt senior Adrian Sullivan, and redshirt freshman Vincent Picozzi have shared reps in his place.

Another major question mark of the offense has been the play calling of offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude. No play has been more evident of the questions on offense than the decision to run a toss on 3rd and 10 with under two minutes to play, which resulted in minimal yardage, and a 4th down turnover for the Owls.

Patenaude coached his first game from the press box on the season, and while the offense did show some life in the second half, still only mustered 13 points. The offense as a whole is averaging just over 16 points a game, which ranks last in the conference.

“Dave is a passionate competitive guy,” said Collins in his press conference last week. “We just have to come together, work together, and play great football as a team.”

One of the biggest plays of the game came on the first drive, as the Owls were facing a third and goal inside the 15 yard line. Marchi dropped back to pass, scrambled backwards, and proceeded to take an intentional grounding penalty resulting in a 24 yard loss, and forcing the Owls to have a rare fourth and goal punt.

“It’s just a bad play on my part, I didn’t have the throw I wanted,” said Marchi of the play on Tuesday. “I ended up doing something out of character, and you gotta play smarter than that.”

Lining up across from Temple is the 12th ranked defense in terms of total and scoring defense in the conference. The Pirates are giving up a substantial 50.6 points per game, and have allowed 64, and 61 against Virginia Tech and USF respectively.

ECU enters with a 2-13 record in its last 15 games dating back to last season, a large chunk of that blame can be placed on the defense.

Ryquell Armstead will look to rush for 100 yards for the first time this season against ECU. // Credit: Zamani Feelings

The biggest stat that jumps of the page when it comes to the ECU defense is the rush defense, and the front seven. The Pirates’ defensive units has allowed 1,488 yards of rushing to opponents, an average of almost 300 yards per game. Not only have they allowed almost 1,500 yards on the ground through five games, but they have also given up 17 rushing touchdowns already this season.

If the Temple offense is looking for a true breakout game on the ground, this should be the one.

Leading the team in tackles are two inside linebackers in senior Jordan Williams, and junior Cannon Gibbs. Williams is first on the team with 49 total tackles on the season, and Gibbs follows close behind with 32 tackles, and 1.5 tackles for loss.

Senior defensive end Kiante Anderson leads the way for ECU with 3.5 sacks on the season, and 4 quarterback hits. He will be a guy the Owls focus on in pass protection in order to slow down the run game.

On the other side of the football, the Temple defense will look to build off last week’s success, after holding a good Houston offense to 20 points, and only seven points in the second half. The Owls rank eighth in the conference in total defense, which is a big dropoff after being a top 20 total defense in the country a year ago.

The Owls have struggled against the pass early in the season. Although Temple is allowing just over 250 yards per game, they allowed big games to Zack Bednarczyk, and Andrew Ford.

The Owls are not short on talent in the secondary, as they have two good corners in Artrel Foster, and Mike Jones, along with two very talented safeties in Delvon Randall, and Sean Chandler.

Senior transfer Mike Jones is coming off a strong performance in which he had a would be interception taken away by a tic-tac pass interference call, along with having a bid day in the return game. He will have a little extra confidence going into this week’s game after being awarded the number one jersey for saturday’s conference showdown.

“It’s just an honor, I’m blessed to even have coach Collins consider me with the number,” said Jones after practice on Tuesday. “I’m gonna wear it like I wore 10, continue to play like I have been.”

When it comes to the interception call that took away what would have been his second interception on the season, Jones wasn’t so sure about it.

“We fought for the ball, it was a good one on one matchup,” said Jones. “I’m passed it, I’m ready to get working with ECU.”

Leading the defense so far this season has been Randall, with 40 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and an interception. He is coming off a very strong performance against Houston in which he had a highlight reel hit, and a toe-tapping interception on the same drive. 

Following Randall is Chappelle Russell, who has stepping in and filled the role of being the team’s leading tackler of anyone in the linebacking corps, he also has 2.5 tackles for loss on the season. Leading the team in tackles for loss is Shaun Bradley, who was ejected in the first half against Houston for a targeting call that could have gone either way.

“I knew he wouldn’t do anything that malicious,” Collins said Tuesday. “And the league did agree with that one.”

The Temple defense will have its hands full going against a very talented ECU passing game. The Pirates rank number two in the conference in passing offense. The team is averaging over 318 yards per game through the air.

Two quarterbacks have seen action for ECU so far this season. The pair of quarterbacks that have seemingly been with the Pirates for a decade are Thomas Sirk, and Gardner Minshew. Sirk leads the way with 1,129 yards through the air on the season, but like Marchi has struggled with turning the ball over with six interceptions on the season. He is also the team’s leading rusher.

As for MInshew, he has seen less time on the season. The starter out of camp, Minshew has completed just 40 percent of his passes, and only three touchdowns on the season.

Leading the way in the receiving corps are Davon Grayson and Trevon Brown. Grayson is tops on the team with just under 500 yards on the season and five touchdowns. Brown follows closely behind with 365 yards and two touchdowns, one going for 95 yards.

Look for both squads to come out playing hard early, as the game is a must win for both teams.

Follow @TU_SportsDesk for all gameday coverage

 

SportsDesk Weekly Profile: Logan Marchi

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One of the biggest questions coming into the 2017 season for the Temple Owls football program was “who’s going to lead the offense and take over the starting quarterback position?” For the past four years, Temple fans were used to seeing Phillip Walker under center.

After a long quarterback battle at summer camp, Logan Marchi stepped up and answered the question that everyone waited the entire off-season for an answer for. A redshirt sophomore, Marchi earned the nod at starting quarterback days before the opening game against Notre Dame. Last season, he was the number 2 quarterback on depth chart sitting behind Walker.

So far Marchi is off to solid start in his new role for the Owls. He has a 2-1 record as a starter, leads the AAC in passing yards with 767 yards to go along with 5 passing touchdowns. Not to mention he’s thrown 0 interceptions.

Marchi leads the AAC in passing, with 767 yards (Cred:// Zamani Feelings)

Born in Bristol, Conn, Marchi played quarterback at St. Paul Catholic high school in Bristol. In both his junior and senior years, he threw for 38 touchdowns. His senior year he threw for 3,220 yards. He was an ironman athlete in high school as he played both sides of the ball. He accumulated 38 tackles and 4 interceptions on defense. A two-star pro-style quarterback coming out of high school, Marchi received offers from Temple University and his hometown school, University of Connecticut. Marchi committed to Temple as part of the 2015 recruiting class.

As the 2017 season goes on, Marchi is showing signs of improvement in the new offense as the starting quarterback and showing growth as a leader. The Owls have a young offensive core and with Marchi as the starting quarterback leading the charge, the future’s very bright for Temple.

Even with the impressive stats through the first three weeks of the season, Marchi knows he still has room to improve.

“For me, just staying consistent, can’t have one big play and then a couple bad plays,” said Marchi after practice on Tuesday. “Converting on third downs, and scoring in the red zone is  probably on two biggest things right now that we gotta work on offensively.”

Marchi received AAC Weekly Honor Roll for his efforts against UMass, after throwing for 248 yards and three touchdowns. Marchi, a first year starter, has impressed his first year head coach Geoff Collins to this point in the season.

“The way he studies film, the way he takes every advantage vs. the scout team. I’ve been really proud of him.”

Marchi has already etched his name into the Temple record books, as he has thrown for the most yards in Temple history of any quarterback in their first three career starts.

One aspect of his game that was missing until the UMass game was Marchi’s ability to run the ball. He showed glimpses of his running ability against the minutemen, but will look to get more opportunities on the ground to keep the defense honest.

“He was banged up early in camp,” said offensive Coordinator Dave Patenaude. “He ran the ball pretty well the other night. In the plays where he had a read, as part of it, he was 100%.”

True Freshman Todd Centeio made his Temple debut against UMass, but according to Patenaude, it’s of no fault to Marchi. He alluded to the fact that Marchi is playing at an all league level as to why fans should not expect a quarterback change in the near future, even with the talent the Owls have at the position.

Marchi will look to use his legs as the season progresses to keep the defense honest (Cred:// Zamani Feelings)

With all the confidence surrounding Marchi coming from the locker room, and the coaching staff, the team will look to compete against USF Tomorrow night. The key for Marchi, is starting fast, and staying on the field.

“Trying to stay on the field, for the defense, to get them some rest, is key this week,” said Marchi. “It’s definitely something we’re trying to do. Go out, start early, have a good first series, and put the ball in the endzone.”

The Owls enter as a 19.5 point underdog a year after beating the Bulls at home 46-30. The play of Marchi will be key if the Owls want to keep pace in the division, and return to their third straight AAC championship appearance.

Owls Pull Out Victory In Final Minute Vs. Villanova

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Aaron Boumehri drilled a 49 yard field goal with a minute remaining to give the Owls a 16-13 lead over Villanova, which would hold up to be the final from Lincoln Financial Field.

For the second straight week the Owls failed to score 20 points, scoring just 16 against a Villanova defense that allowed 35 points to Lehigh a week ago. A year ago, the Owls scored 51 points in their first two games, including a 38 spot in week two against Stony Brook.

The second career start for Logan Marchi was much like the first, as the redshirt sophomore 20 of his 34 pass attempts, for 274 yards. He did not turn the ball over for the second straight week, showing his poise under center that is rare to find in a young quarterback.

Marchi did not turn the ball over for the second week in a row.

“Ball security means job security,” said Head Coach Geoff Collins following Saturday’s game. “Anybody that turns the ball over on offense isn’t gonna play.”

In a relatively slow paced first half, the Owls took a 10-0 lead heading into halftime over in state rival Villanova.

Marchi came out slinging early in the game, throwing for 193 yards in the opening 30 minutes of play. The majority of his passing yardage came on the final drive before the end of the half, as he found three different receivers for 62 yards down to the one yard line, setting up a one yard touchdown run by fullback Nick Sharga with one second remaining in the opening half. The last second touchdown would turn out to be the only Temple touchdown on the afternoon.

The offenses went back and forth in the first quarter without scoring until the 1:13 mark, when Austin Jones connected on a 22-yard field goal to open the scoring.

Villanova had the majority of possession in the quarter, while the Owls outgained the Wildcats 121 to 82 in the opening quarter.

It was more of the same as the second quarter opened, as the offenses traded missed field goals, keeping the score knotted at 3-0. The Owls defense, a week after allowing 28 points in the first half, held Villanova scoreless, and just 129 yards of total offense.

The Wildcats took over in the second half. After a 44 yard Aaron Boumehri field goal to make it a 13-0 game, the Wildcats scored 13 unanswered points to tie the game with 3:29 to go. Villanova quarterback Zach Bednarczyk found open receivers early and often in the second half, as he threw for an impressive 382 yards on the night, and one touchdown.

The Wildcats capitalized on two field goals, and a 10 yard touchdown pass to Taurus Phillips, who was tied for the team lead in receptions with six in the game.

The Temple offense woke up following 34 yard game tying field goal by Villanova, driving the ball down the field in just 2:23, and squeeze just inside field goal range for Boumehri to put them in front.

The spark of the drive was a 29 yard pass to Ventell Bryant, who made a spectacular one handed catch along the sideline while being interfered with, to put the Owls into Villanova territory. Temple was also aided by a defensive holding call when Marchi tried to find Adonis Jennings down the field. Bryant would finish the game as the Owl’s leading receiver, with seven catches for 79 yards in his first action of the season.

For the second straight week the Temple rushing offense was unimpressive, totaling just 79 yards on the ground as a team. Starting running back Ryquell Armstead mustered just 19 yards on 12 carries. No Owl had more than 30 rushing yards on the night.

The Owl’s defense allowed just 20 yards on the ground against Villanova, 400 less than week one.

Defensively for Temple, Chappelle Russell was all over the field, collecting 10 total tackles on the night, including a big five yard tackle for loss to help push keep Villanova from driving the ball down the field. Redshirt Sophomore linebacker Dana Levine followed up the play with a quarterback hurry to force an intentional grounding penalty. The Wildcats were able to convert on a field goal later in the drive.

As a unit, the Owls held Villanova to just 20 yards of rushing, compared to allowing 422 against Notre Dame. The front seven came to play, as the Temple defense was looking to make a statement, especially in the run game.

Other notable performances on defense were safeties Delvon Randall and Sean Chandler, each totaled eight tackles on the afternoon. Shaun Bradley also made an impact with seven total tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack in the week two game. Perhaps the biggest play of the game was a pass breakup by Dan Archibong, to help keep Villanova out of the end zone, and force a field goal, which led to the Owls game winning drive.

Temple has little time to celebrate, as the Owls have a short week, and will take on UMass friday night at the linc. They will look to pick up their second win of the season, and second under Geoff Collins against the minutemen.

SportsDesk Preview: Villanova vs. Temple

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A week after a 49-16 loss at the hands of Notre Dame in Geoff Collins head coaching debut, Temple welcomes in FCS opponent, and city rival Villanova in week two.

The matchup is the first between the two teams since week one 2012, when the Owls overpowered the Wildcats 41-10. This is the first meeting between the two schools in which both teams will enter with a first year head coach. The all time series between Villanova and Temple stands at 15-15-2, with both teams looking to take the advantage heading into Saturday at the Linc.

Matchups

The Temple offense enters week two with some security at the quarterback position with Logan Marchi. Although the offense only scored 16 points against Notre Dame, Marchi quietly put together a solid day under center.

The redshirt sophomore threw for 245 yards on the day, and two touchdowns in his first career start. He just missed on what would have been a sure touchdown to a wide open Kenny Yeboah, who had it go just off his fingertips through the back of the end zone. Marchi completed 19 of his 35 pass attempts, for a completion rating of 54%. The most important stat of the day for Marchi was zero turnovers, which is impressive in itself for a quarterback starting his first career game, at Notre Dame. Even with no turnovers, Marchi was critical of his game against the Irish.

Marchi was sacked three times against Notre Dame.
Cred:// csnphilly.com

“I missed a lot of throws, a couple reads here and there,” said Marchi. “I gotta hone in on it and correct it going into this week.”

Returning this week is number one wide receiver Ventell Bryant, who missed the opener against Notre Dame with an injury. Bryant was the Owl’s top receiver a year ago, when he had just under 900 yards receiving, and four touchdowns, after missing three games early in the season.

In the absence of Bryant, sophomore wide-out Isaiah Wright led the way for Temple with 79 yards receiving on four catches, an average of over 19 yards per catch.

“Isaiah’s a great guy,” said Marchi following tuesday’s practice. “Great player, he’s got great hands, and he’s got a good feel for the field. He’s a guy we like to target.”

Keith Kirkwood also put together a solid day against the fighting Irish, finishing with 60 yards receiving, and one touchdown. Ryqeull Armstead will look to lead the run game against Villanova, after rushing for 67 yards against the fighting Irish.

As for the Wildcats defensively, they enter a week after a 38-35 victory over Lehigh, for their first win of the season. One Wildcat playerTemple has been focusing on is preseason All-American, and captain Rob Rolle.

The senior defensive back started all 13 games for Villanova a season ago, and totaled 63 tackles, per Villanova.com. He also led the FCS with seven interceptions on the season, with two touchdowns, and a fumble recovery. The Owls will definitely gameplan for Rolle come saturday afternoon.

“They got a great secondary,” said Marchi. “An all-conference guy [Rolle]. It’s gonna be a tough game.”

Rolle was named a pre season All American by Athlon Sports cred:// vuhoops.com

 “The safety they have, he’s a really good player,” said head coach Geoff Collins in his press conference on Tuesday. “I think their whole secondary is really good.”

The Wildcats defense gave up just 15 points per game a year ago, and will look to their secondary to help them slow down the Owls, and their talented wide receiving corps.

On the other side of the ball, Temple enters looking to prove itself after being routed by the Notre Dame offense in week one. The Owls allowed over 600 yards of total offense against the Irish, 422 of which came on the ground. That is thanks in large part to the Notre Dame offensive line and Josh Adams, but there is definite room for improvement for the Temple defensive unit. Sophomore linebacker Shaun Bradley wants to make a statement against the Wildcats.

“I definitely think we need to bounce back from last week,” said Bradley. “We’re gonna give it everything we’ve got this week, no matter what.”

Bradley tied for second on the team with seven total tackles against Notre Dame, he had a quarterback hurry on the afternoon. Bradley is one of the more experienced linebackers on this years unit, having a lot of work on special teams a year ago. He, along with the rest of the defensive unit are looking for a bounce back week against Villanova.

The defensive line is also looking to rebound after last week’s loss, and will do so with a new number along the front. Defensive tackle Michael Dogbe was awarded the number one for his efforts against Notre Dame, and will wear a single digit number for the first time in his Temple career.

Many believe if there was a runner-up for the #1 jersey this week, it would be Isaiah Wright for his week 1 performance. Expect the sophomore to compete for that jersey for weeks to come. // Credit: Don Otto

“Michael Dogbe I thought was a hero on saturday. He was supposed to play zero plays,” said Collins. “Dogbe played over half the snaps in a game when he was supposed to play zero. For that honor, he is going to wear number one this week.”

As for the secondary, the unit held Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush to just 184 yards passing, and are confident heading into week two behind a strong performance from newcomer Mike Jones, who totaled four tackles, and an interception last week.

“I’m always confident in my guys, I’ll take my guys over anyone,” said safety Delvon Randall. “We still have things to clean up, we’re gonna come in, watch film, get it cleaned up, and try and go 1-0 for the week.”

The Owls will face another dual threat quarterback against Villanova. Junior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk had strong performance to start the season against Lehigh. Bednarczyk threw for 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week, and scored a touchdown on the ground as well. The Temple defense, who allowed over 100 yards on the ground to Wimbush last week, will look to container the dual threat quarterback in week two.

The Owls will look to keep pace in the American Conference, and secure Geoff Collins’ first career victory against the number six ranked FCS team in Villanova.

Follow @TU_SportsDesk for all gameday coverage.

Temple vs. Notre Dame: Position by Position Matchup

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Temple travels to South Bend Saturday to take on the fighting Irish for the first time since its four point loss in Philadelphia on Halloween in 2015. Although college gameday won’t be making the trip to Indiana for the game, the September 2nd showdown is still an important game for both teams. Here’s look at both teams, position by position, with an evaluation of which team has the edge going into the opening game.

Quarterbacks- Notre Dame

The 6-2 228 lb. QB will make his first career start against Temple // (Credit: ndinsider.com)

Starting off with the most important position for any football team, the quarterback. Both teams enter the season with some uncertainty under center, as both saw their starting quarterback of a year ago leave for the NFL; ex-Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer is now with the Cleveland Browns, and former Owl Phillip Walker is currently a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

Starting with the visiting Owls, all four quarterbacks have been battling it out for the starting position since spring ball began. The candidates for the spot are freshman Todd Centeio, redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, redshirt junior Frank Nutile, and redshirt freshman Anthony Russo.

Centeio is the dual threat that can come in and pick up where Walker left off. Like Walker, Centeio can get it done with his legs, as well as his arm, which will keep the defense honest, and open the door for the read option, as well as run pass options. Centeio was ranked as the 12th best starting quarterback in the American Athletic Conference in a usatoday article by Paul Myerberg. “There are four contenders for the starting job,” wrote Myerberg “But Centeio has the legs and mentality to separate himself from the pack.”

Next on the list of potential candidates is Logan Marchi. Marchi battled with Nutile to become the backup to Phillip Walker for his redshirt freshman season. He saw brief game action early in the season against Stony Brook, and Charlotte, when he picked up his first, and only completions of the season, and his career to this point. Marchi threw a total of 112 touchdown passes, and rushed for 12 more in his high school career according to Owl Sports, showing he can also get it done with his feet if he needs too.

Nutile backed up Phillip Walker in the 2015 season, and threw his only touchdown pass against Charlotte. He also saw action against Stony Brook, and Charlotte in 2016, along with Marchi. A three star prospect coming out of high school, Nutile was ranked as the 28th best player in New Jersey, according to Owl Sports. He had offers from other AAC schools in Cincinnati, and UCF, before choosing Temple.

The final candidate for the starting job is highly touted prospect Anthony Russo, out of Archbishop Wood. The redshirt freshman originally committed to play at Rutgers, and received looks from LSU and Les Miles before finally choosing Temple. The 6-4 228 lb. quarterback was first team all-state at Archbishop Wood, where he helped lead the Vikings to back-to-back state championships in 2013, and 2014. Russo has the best arm of the four, and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top, and leads the Owls against Notre Dame.

As for the Irish, the job of starting quarterback has been taken by junior Brandon Wimbush. The 6-2 228 lb. quarterback has little game experience, like the candidates for Temple, but has been on the team since 2015. Wimbush was a first team pick by MaxPreps his senior year of high school, and was ranked as the number two dual threat quarterback in the nation by rivals. He threw for over 3,100 yards in his senior season at St. Peter’s Prep in New Jersey, where he completed the most passes of anyone in the state. Wimbush will look to take the Irish back to a bowl game after missing out a year ago.

Running Backs- Temple

The running back position is where the Owls should have an edge against the Fighting Irish. After the graduation of Jahad Thomas, the newest member of the New York Jets after his brief stint with the Dallas Cowboys, the Temple running back corps is as still as strong as ever- led by junior running back Ryquell Armstead. The 5-11 205 lb back is coming off a sophomore season in which he rushed for 919 yards and 14 touchdowns while sharing the starting position with Thomas. He averaged almost six yards a carry as a sophomore, and rushed for over 70 yards per game. Armstead is the newest single digit tough guy for the Owls, as he will wear the number seven of former standout, and first round pick of the Arizona Cardinals Haason Reddick.

The Owls also have good depth behind Armstead in running backs David Hood, and Jager Gardner. Both running backs have seen game action in the last two seasons behind Thomas and Armstead.

The Irish return their leading rusher from a year ago in Junior Running back Josh Adams. Adams rushed for 835 yards in 2015, and 933 yards in 2016, to go along with 11 touchdowns in that span. Adams will be the feature back again in 2017, behind an offensive line that returns four starters from a year ago. The Irish rushed for almost 2,000 yards as a team a season ago, and will look for the same productivity, if not more, to take the pressure off of a first year starting quarterback in Wimbush.

Wide Receivers- Temple

Keith Kirkwood will be a big target for a young quarterback in 2017 // Credit: Getty Images

Wide receiver should be another position of strength heading into next week for the Owls, with a handful of returning starters, and impact receivers returning for this season. Leading the group is redshirt junior Ventell Bryant, who was a dominant force in the second half of the season after missing the first couple games with injury. Bryant posted 895 yards receiving on the season on 54 receptions, and four touchdowns on the season, according to Owl Sports. He posted an impressive 81.4 receiving yards per game, and 16.6 yards per catch. Bryant will look to remain the team’s number one receiver once again in 2017.

Following closely behind Bryant is redshirt senior Keith Kirkwood, who became a high value target for Phillip Walker as the season went on. The 6-3 220lb wide-out had 648 receiving yards on the season, to go along with four touchdowns. Kirkwood became the first player to be awarded a single digit number under new head coach Geoff Collins, and he will dawn the number five, formerly of Jahad Thomas. Other returning impact receivers include Adonis Jennings, Brodrick Yancy, Marshall Elllick, and Isiah Wright, who all were involved in the offense a year ago, and will look to continue to make an impact.

Notre Dame also brings back their leading receiver from 2016 in Equanimeous St. Brown. The junior receiver had just under 1,000 receiving yards on the season, with 961 yards on 58 receptions, to go along with nine touchdowns, tops on the team. The Irish also return tight end Durham Smythe, who caught four touchdowns out of the tight end spot a season ago.

Offensive Line- Notre Dame

(Credit: und.com)

The offensive line of Notre Dame will be one of the major strengths of the team heading into the 2017 season. A unit that led the way for Josh Adams, and the running game for the Irish that rushed for 1,960 yards as a team, will return four starting offensive lineman from a season ago. Leading the way is Philadelphia native, and William Penn Charter grad Mike McGlinchey, who started every game at right tackle for the Irish a year ago. The 6-8 315 lb tackle led the way for an offensive line that was a finalist for the first Joe Moore award, given to the nation’s top offensive line unit.

Another key member of the offensive line for the Irish from 2016, and heading into 2017 is left guard Quenton Nelson. Nelson started all but one game a year ago at the left guard position, helped the rushing attack average over five yards a carry collectively, which ranked eighth best in the nation. The Irish also averaged 207.6 rushing yards per game, ranking top 30 in the nation in that category, thanks in no small part to the offensive line, and Josh Adams. Along with McGlinchey and Nelson, Notre Dame also brings back senior offensive lineman in Sam Mustipher, and Alex Bars. The Irish will look for the running game to take pressure off of Wimbush, and lead the offense in 2017.

The Owls also return key pieces along the offensive line from a season ago. Redshirt senior right tackle Leon Johnson leads the way for a unit that rushed for 2,466 yards in 2016, according to ESPN. Johnson started all fourteen games last season, including the AAC championship, and military bowl. Lining up to the left of Johnson will be another redshirt senior in right guard Adrian Sullivan. Like Johnson, Sullivan started all fourteen games at the right guard position in 2016, after only seeing action in two games his sophomore season. Rounding out the returning starters from 2016 is redshirt sophomore Jovahn Fair. He started all but one game at left guard, helping to lead the Owls to 31 rushing touchdowns on the season. Temple will also count on two newcomers to the offensive line in Matt Hennessey at center, and Cole Boozer at left tackle. Redshirt junior Jaelin Robinson should also see some time on the offensive line, after partly sharing some offensive line duties with Leon Johnson a season ago.

Defensive Line- Even

Credit: Philly.com

Temple will bring back a strong defensive line unit again in 2017, which will have to play well against Notre Dame’s offensive line on Saturday. Leading the way entering the 2017 season for the Owls is redshirt junior Michael Dogbe. The 6-3 280 lb tackle totaled 43 tackles a year ago after becoming the starter in week five. He totaled 5.0 tackles for loss in 2016, along with a forced fumble against UCONN.

Another impact player making a return is redshirt senior defensive end Sharif Finch. Finch was granted a medical redshirt after playing in just four games a season ago. He blocked a punt week one against army, adding to his already impressive total of five blocked punts in his career. For his career, Finch has scored two defensive touchdown, and nearly had a third in 2015, returning an interception to the one yard line against Penn State. He has totaled 89 tackles in his career, along with 13.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries. He recently was awarded the number six, formerly of Stephaun Marshall, and will look to continue his knack of forcing turnovers, and getting to the quarterback.

Other key members of the defensive line entering 2017 for the Owls are Jacob Martin, Greg Webb, and Freddie Booth-Lloyd.

Adding to the theme of returning starters, Notre Dame will bring back two starting defensive lineman in Jerry Tillery, and Andrew Trumbetti. Tillery started twelve games a season ago, and Trumbetti started seven. Other players to watch along the defensive line for Notre Dame are seniors Jay Hayes, and Jonathan Bonner, alongside sophomore Julian Okwara.

Linebackers- Notre Dame

(Credit: chicagotribune.com)

The Owls will enter 2017 with a young, but fast group of linebackers. After losing starters Avery Bradley, Stephaun Marshall, and Jared Alwan, Temple will look to have the young linebacking corps pickup where they left off, helping lead a top 10 nationally ranked defense from a year ago.

One of the major pieces for the defense will be sophomore William Kwenkeu. The 6-1 225 lb linebacker played in all fourteen games a year ago, mostly on special teams. The maryland native registered fourteen total tackles on the season, one tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery. The Owls will look to Kwenkeu, who has experience in important games, to help lead a tough, run stopping defense.

Lining up next to Kwenkeu will be fellow sophomores Shaun Bradley, and Sam Franklin. Franklin also played all fourteen games alongside Kwenkeu as a key member of the special teams unit. The Owls will look for his success to translate from special teams to success as a starting linebacker. Bradley has some experience at linebacker, as he received reps last season. The 6-1 225 lb linebacker totaled six tackles in eleven games in 2016, along with one forced fumble. Other players to watch at linebacker are Jared Folks, and Chapelle Russell.

The Irish bring back a couple of seasoned started in the linebacking group that will take the field on September 2nd. Senior Nyles Morgan will look to lead a strong defense entering the season, as he totaled 88 tackles a season ago, along with 6.0 tackles for loss, and 4.0 sacks. Coming out of high school Morgan was ranked as the 34th best player in the nation by scout.com, and has lived up to the expectations. For his career, Morgan has totaled 152 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. The senior will look to continue his dominance on the field in his final year for Notre Dame.

Returning alongside Morgan is junior linebacker Te’von Coney, who started eight games a WLB a season ago. Coney totaled 61 tackles in 2016, including 10 total tackles against Virginia Tech. He also picked up 1.5 tackles for loss on the season. Notre Dame will look to these two returning starters to lead the defense in 2017.

Secondary- Temple

Delvon Randall with one of his four interceptions in 2016

The Temple secondary is arguable the best unit on the team, and most likely the American Conference. It boasts a dominant safety duo in Sean Chandler and Delvon Randall, two single digits poised to lead the secondary in 2017. Beginning with Chandler, who made the transition from cornerback to safety in 2016, did not skip a beat in the defense. In a season where he missed four games early in the season, Chandler 51 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3 pasess defended, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.

Lining up beside Chandler will be Delvon Randall, the newest player to wear the number two in cherry and white. The junior safety emerged as the starter coming out of camp, and did not look back. He registered 65 tackles out of the strong safety position, to go along with 6.0 tackles for loss, and nine passes defended. He was also a turnover machine in 2016, with 4 interceptions, and two fumble recoveries. The Owls will look to the safety tandem to force turnovers, and make plays in the run game throughout the season.

The cornerbacks will also be a strength for the team entering the season. Artrel Foster, the newest single digit returns, and incoming transfer Mike Jones will look to make an impact in his first season with the Owls. The Temple secondary was ranked as the best secondary unit in the AAC by USAtoday’s Paul Myerberg. With the help of a good run defense, the group will look to once again be a top notch secondary unit in 2017.

The Irish also bring back two starting safeties in Drue Tranquill and Devin Studstill. Cornerback Julian Love also returns to South Bend as a sophomore starting at the cornerback position. A year ago the Irish secondary allowed under 200 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks, and will look for more of the same this season.

Special Teams- Temple

(Credit: gettyimages)

The Owls will have an advantage in the special teams game whether they start kicker Aaron Boumerhi, or Austin Jones. Jones, a senior, had a strong start to the season before injuring his knee against Memphis, knocking him out for the remainder of the season. Enter Boumerhi, who subsequently hit 15 of 17 field goals on the season, with a long of 48 yards. The punt game should also be a strength for the Owls with the return of Alex Starzyk, who will compete with freshman Connor Bowler for the starting tight end position. DE Sharif Finch also leads the nation in career blocked punts 

Notre Dame enters as a -17 favorite on September 2nd, and will look for the offensive and defensive lines to lead them in the opener of the 2017 season. Temple will rely on its secondary, and wide receivers to make plays and take pressure off whichever first year quarterback gets the start next Saturday.

Follow @TU_SportsDesk for all gameday coverage

O’Connor Irish Update: Notre Dame at a Glance

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After a disappointing 2016 season which resulted in a 4-8 record, Notre Dame will be looking for a bounce back season beginning on September 2nd, against Temple.

Amid the uncertainty surrounding the Fighting Irish in the offseason, the team made the choice to bring back Brian Kelly in what will be his eighth season as head coach of Notre Dame. Kelly has had success with the program, posing a 59-31 record as head coach, which includes a 2013 national championship appearance. Kelly will look to provide stability to the Fighting Irish this season.

Perhaps the biggest position to be filled for Notre Dame is quarterback. The Fighting Irish will enter the season having seen DeShone Kizer taken 52nd overall in the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. Kizer threw for almost 6,000 yards in his Notre Dame career, to go along with 47 touchdowns, and only 19 interceptions in his two seasons as the starting quarterback.

Enter Brandon Wimbush, the 6-2, 228 lb. junior who will take over as the Irish starting quarterback in 2017. Wimbush was rated as a four star recruit coming out of high school by 247sports, and had offers from Penn State, Ohio State, and Alabama among other teams before committing to Notre Dame.

Wimbush has played in just two games in his career with the Fighting Irish, both in 2015 as a freshman against Umass, and Pittsburgh. Wimbush completed the most passes of any quarterback in the state of New Jersey in his senior season, with 192 completions. He threw for 3,187 yards as a senior, with 37 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. Wimbush will look to continue to lead a passing offense that ranked in the top 50 in the nation in 2016.

    The 6-2 228 lb. QB will make his first career start against Temple (Cred:// ndinsider.com)

Something that will help take the pressure off of a first time starting quarterback is the return of fifteen starters from last season. The Fighting Irish will bring back offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson, Sam Mustipher, and Alex Bars. Each started all twelve games a season ago, according to NBC Sports. The return of four starting offensive lineman will certainly help a first year starter having veteran leadership along the offensive line.

Along with the four offensive lineman, Notre Dame brings running back Josh Adams, and  wide receivers C.J. Sanders, as well as Equanimeous St. Brown, and tight end Durham Smythe, per NBC Sports. Adams rushed for 933 yards in the 2016 season along with five touchdowns, which followed a 2015 season of over 800 yards rushing. As for the receivers. Equanimeous St. Brown posted 961 yards receiving in 2016, the most on the team, and nine touchdowns, which was also the most of any receiver on the team. Sanders had 293 yards receiving, and two touchdowns on the season.

The Fighting Irish will also return a strong secondary in safeties Drue Tranquill, and Devin Studstill, along with cornerback Julian Love. They also bring back two linebackers in Nyles Morgan, and Te’von Coney, along with defensive lineman Jerry Tillery, and Andrew Trumbetti, according to NBC Sports.

Notre Dame will look to once again return to success by making a bowl appearance under first year starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush, and 15 returning starters from a season ago. It all gets underway on September 2nd, when the Owls travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame, in a matchup of first year starting quarterbacks.