Owls Dominated On National Stage, Still Finding Identity

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A 43-7 loss to the USF Bulls sets Temple back to 2-2 heading into week 5, and this was certainly not the way the unit wanted to open up conference play. The best thing about this game for the Owls was that time expired.

QB Logan Marchi entered the game without one interception, that quickly ended when he threw one in each of the first three quarters. Absolutely nothing doing for Marchi, as he simply couldn’t get it going tonight passing for only 32 yards going 3-13 with 3 INT’s. His two rushing attempts were even more unsuccessful resulting in a total loss of 24 yards. He was also sacked twice.

Logan Marchi came into the game leading the AAC in pass yards. // Credit: Tampabay.com

Kyle Gauss from OwlScoop noted Marchi’s -2.4 passer rating is the worst by a Temple QB with at least 10 pass attempts in the last 18 years.

So, in came junior QB Frank Nutile who was able to gain some garbage time yardage passing 4-12 for 57 yards and 1 INT. Nutile also contributed to the negative run game with 3 carries for -7 yards. Also getting some time under center was freshman QB Todd Centio, although he did not attempt a pass, Centio rushed twice for -12 yards and was sacked twice.

Yes, there was some rushers who gained positive yards in tonight’s affair. Majority coming from junior FB Rob Ritrovato (5 carries for 24 yards), and junior RB David Hood (5 carries for 13 yards). The starting backfield had little to no impact on the run game tonight with RB Ryquell Armstead carrying 11 times for 3 yards and FB Nick Sharga carrying twice for 2 yards.

Even with the positive yards from the backfield, it wasn’t enough to keep the rushing numbers positive, totaling out to -4 rushing yards on the night.

Given the lack of consistency at QB, the receiving core as a whole totaled 7 receptions for 89 yards. A big chunk of that coming from this week’s No. 1 Adonis Jennings, who caught 2 passes for 33 yards. The only other receiver with more than one catch was junior Ventell Bryant (2 catches, 13 yards). Also catching passes were sophomores Randle Jones (1-17), Isaiah Wright (1-14) and freshman Freddie Johnson (1-12).

The only score for the Owls came on a Jacob Martin strip sack return for a touchdown at the end of the first half that brought the score to 20-7. There was life heading into the locker room. However, Temple’s offense simply could not get going, posting just 85 total yards, opposed to USF’s 408 total yards coming from a multitude of places, starting with their senior QB Quinton Flowers.

Temple’s woes on offense took a lot of pressure off what many believe to be the best athlete in the conference. // Credit: NY Daily News

Temple’s defense was able to slow Flowers down for the most part and contain him from having an extraordinary game, though his numbers were still impressive. Flowers went 8-20 passing for 96 yards, 0 TD’s, and 0 INT’s, though he rushed 16 times for 59 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the sidelines, you could tell Flowers was not pleased with his game due to his poor passing.

Doing the most damage were the Bulls two big senior RB’s Darius Tice (15-117, 2 TD’s) and D’Ernest Johnson (24-106). Tice’s longest carry of the day came on the opening play of the second quarter on a 47 yard touchdown run for the game’s first touchdown.

The Owls secondary did a good job on shutting down the Bull’s receivers only allowing a total of 8 receptions for 96 yards. Most of that number coming from seniors D’Ernest Johnson (2-29), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (2-26) and junior Tyre McCants (2-29).

The Owls defense did all they could to stop this high powered offense, sophomore LB Chapelle Russell had 13 total tackles including 9 solo, and 1.5 for loss. Every time they would get off the field, it seemed as though they were right back on it. It wasn’t until about 2 minutes to go in the first half, when senior defensive lineman Jacob Martin gave the Owls some life when he strip sacked Quinton Flowers and took the fumble 44 yards to the endzone to make it a 20-7 game going into halftime. Though that would be it for the visiting Owls.

Turnovers hurt Temple badly tonight, 6 turnovers led to 19 points for the opposition. Four interceptions, and two fumbles lost, to compare to USF’s 2 fumbles lost. 

It’s back to the drawing board for Head Coach Geoff Collins as he tries to salvage what he can from this loss. Next Saturday, the Owls will continue their conference play against Houston at home in hopes of their first conference win and improve to 3-2.

Keep up with @TU_SportsDesk this week for more analysis on the game, and the coming week’s matchup.

SportsDesk Preview: Temple vs. USF

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Week four is very quickly upon us as the Owls will depart for Tampa, Florida tomorrow afternoon to take on the 21st ranked South Florida Bulls.

Temple is fresh off its 29-21 victory over UMass last Friday night. In doing so, it improved to 2-1 overall and winners of their last two contests. Though the Owls face a tough task Thursday night when they open up conference play and visit their 3-0 conference foe. The Bulls have won their 3 games thus far by an average of 19 points.

In Friday’s game, sophomore QB Logan Marchi continued his impressive start to his season, completing 22 of 37 passing attempts for 248 yards and a season best 3 touchdowns, and still has yet to turn the ball over.

QB Logan Marchi leads the AAC in passing yards, and has not turned the ball over in his first three starts (Cred:// Zamani Feelings)

Marchi made the AAC Honor Roll this week for his performance Friday night. In his first three games, he leads the AAC in passing yards with 767, and has thrown the ball a total of 107 times without an interception. He is one of 3 FBS QB’s with 100+ passing attempts with no INT’s.

Though he still sees some cracks in his offensive game,

“I’d say we need to work on staying on the field and converting on third downs, also scoring in the red zone are our two biggest things that we got to work on offensively,” Marchi said. “For me, just staying consistent, I can’t have one big play and a couple bad plays, so we got to stay consistent on offense.”

Also getting conference honors this week, is freshman defensive lineman Quincy Roche. Roche made 8 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. With that performance he took home Co-Defensive Player of the Week in the AAC. But he’s concerned about this week’s opposing QB Quinton Flowers.

“I think the biggest thing is keeping him in the pocket. He has the ability to make you pinch inside while he cuts outside, so it’s big to make sure we don’t buy into that and keep [Flowers] contained,” Roche said.

Roche’s 3 sacks contributed to a team total of 9, which is the highest total since September of 2015 when the Owls sacked Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg 10 times. DE Sharif Finch and LB Sam Franklin each had two sacks Friday.

Junior RB Ryquell Armstead finally broke out in a big way on Friday night. He led the rushing game by carrying the ball 17 times for a season high 91 yards. He started early, gaining 60 yards on the first drive of the game. Also contributing was senior FB Nick Sharga, who carried 4 times for 12 yards and made some crucial plays on special teams, recovering a fumble, and making a tackle on a blocked kick.  

The Owls WR corps played a big role in the team’s success Friday night. Sophomore Isaiah Wright led the way with 4 catches for 69 yards and a one handed touchdown to seal the win. Following Wright, is senior Keith Kirkwood who also hauled in 4 catches for 64 yards and a TD. Also breaking the plane was senior WR Adonis Jennings, who caught 3 passes for 41 yards including one large gain on 30 yards.

Because of his performance in games, practices and his all around leadership, Jennings has earned the right to wear the No. 1 jersey this week. Coach Geoff Collins talked about his character today when describing this weeks No. 1.

“Everybody sees what he does on Saturday’s and the big plays he makes. What you don’t see is the prep work he goes through every single day to get his body ready for practice, not just games, to get his body ready for practice. He’s in here an hour before practice, stretching, rolling, to get himself ready to practice at a high level.”

Jennings was humbled to have his number called.

“It’s special that I got number one, I know I’m respected by my teammates and my coaches. I’m very ready to go out and play…I worked hard, I put in the work and I’m glad my teammates and coaches know that. So I’m ready to go out and prove I deserve it.”

As for South Florida, the Bulls rely very heavily on their senior QB Quinton Flowers. This season, Flowers is on Heisman watch, throwing 45-81 for 678 yards and 8 touchdowns with only two interceptions. On the ground, he’s rushed 61 times for a total of 243 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Last season, Flowers won the AAC Offensive Player of the Year and CFPA National Performer of the Year, joining Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson as only players in the FBS to pass for 2,000+ and run for 1,500+ yards in 2016.

Helping out Flowers in the backfield are senior RB’s D’Ernest Johnson (2nd Team All-AAC) and Darius Tice. So far on the season, Johnson has 52 carries raking up 215 yards and 2 touchdowns, also catching 2 passes for 37 yards and 1 touchdown. Darius Tice has totaled 48 carries for 256 yards and 4 touchdowns. Both of these RB’s are coming off 100+ yard performances last week vs. Illinois.

Temple’s defense ranks ninth in the AAC in pass defense (Cred:// Zamani Feelings)

“They like to spread people out and run the ball, obviously they have a very explosive QB, so it’s going to be a tough game, everybody has to be locked in and focused when it comes time,” co-Defensive Player of the Week Quincy Roche said.

Also making plays for the Bulls are their WR’s, senior Marquez Valdes-Scantling who has 14 catches for 202 yards and 2 TD’s thus far, along with junior Tyre McCants who caught only 5 passes thus far totaling 131 yards and 2 touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball for the Bulls, leading the way for their secondary is junior CB Ronnie Hoggins. Hoggins has 18 total tackles on the season, 17 solo, 4 passes broken up and 1 interception. Also helping out at CB is Deatrick Nichols who has 13 total tackles, 11                                                                                         solo, also with 4 passes broken up.

Leading the front seven, is senior DT Bruce Hector, who leads the team in sacks (2) and tackles for loss (5) thus far. He’s got 11 total tackles, 10 have been solo. Helping out Hector, is senior MLB Auggie Sanchez who has 16 tackles thus far, 1 for a loss, and 1 pass broken up.

“We got a lot of players from Florida that I know are excited. Any time you can play on a national stage, everybody’s game in some way, shape or form, elevates. So I know our guys are excited and they have a worthy opponent to play against as well,” Coach Collins said on the opportunity to play primetime on national television.

The Owls look to extend their winning streak to 3 games Thursday night, and get their first conference win this season. Kickoff is set for 7:30PM from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The game will be nationally broadcasted on ESPN and you can listen in on 610 WTEL Radio.

Follow @TU_SportsDesk for all gameday coverage

SportsDesk Preview: UMass vs Temple

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Week three is upon us and the Owls (1-1) will host the UMass Minutemen (0-3) this Friday night. This will be the last non-conference game for Temple until late October, as next week, they open up their inter-conference play.

The last time these two teams squared off was back in the 2015 season at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The Owls won the matchup 25-23. It was quite the nail biter as it came down to a game winning field goal by now senior, Austin Jones with 12 seconds remaining.

Temple will look to jump ahead early this time and not have to worry about it coming down to the final 12 seconds.

“We respect every team we play, of course we respect UMass from our past play with them. It’s going to be a good game,” said senior DE Julian Taylor. “I don’t expect them to bow down and be like oh they’re Temple they’re conference champs, I expect them to come at us like we are any other team. So I’m excited to play,” said senior DE Julian Taylor.

The Matchups 

The Temple offense will look to put more points on the board after their first two games putting up 16 in both. QB Logan Marchi comes off another impressive start against Villanova throwing for 274 yards on 20-34 passing attempts and still with zero interceptions. Though he remains critical of his game, and offensive production.

“It’s got to be better, hands down. 16 points back to back is not okay. We should definitely be putting up more points than that.”

Ryquell Armstead rushed for just 19 yards against Villanova. (Credit: WBZW)

Marchi also wishes to get the running game going after just 79 rushing yards vs Villanova, and 85 yards in week one vs ND.

“We got to have the run game there, [vs] Villanova it wasn’t where we wanted it to be, we got a great running back and a great o-line, so we have to make sure we execute the running game.

Sure enough if they are able to get RB Ryquell Armstead and the running game active, it will take some pressure off Marchi and the WR core to make big plays.

In the game against Villanova, Armstead was limited to just 19 rushing yards due to some minor injuries. He looks to start this Friday and give the offense an electrifying jump that they need.

The play of the Owl’s receivers though, cannot go unnoticed. Redshirt junior WR Ventell Bryant made his return to the field last Saturday in a big way after a week one absence. He hauled in 7 catches totaling 79 yards, including a one-handed 29 yard reception that led to the game winning field goal.

Also with a big day was senior WR Adonis Jennings, who caught 3 passes for 75 yards, including one for 43 yards. Redshirt Senior Keith Kirkwood caught 4 passes totaling 61 yards.

As for the Minutemen, they have some talent of their own at WR and TE. Senior TE Adam Breneman leads the way for UMass in receiving with 21 receptions on the year totaling 323 yards. Junior WR Andy Isabella has caught 16 passes for 246 yards and 3 TD’s, including one catch for 60 yards and a touchdown in a 17-7 loss to Old Dominion.

UMass’ passing offense is led by star wideout Andy Isabella, and former Penn State tight end Adam Breneman (Cred:// Daily Hampshire Gazette)

“They’re athletic, they’re quick, we just got to come, watch and keep studying them and by the time Friday comes we’ll have a game plan for them,” said junior safety Delvon Randall. “They’ll go across the middle, they’ll go deep, it doesn’t matter, they’re great players.”

In the backfield for UMass, is junior RB Marquis Young. Young has produced big in his first two seasons, totaling 1,858 yards and 11 touchdowns. So far this season he’s already produced 148 yards and 4 touchdowns, matching his number of TD’s from a season ago.

Under center is junior QB Andrew Ford. This season, Ford has totaled 827 yards on 63-103 passing attempts, 4 touchdowns and only one interception. This is Ford’s second season as starting QB for the Minutemen, last season he threw 26 touchdowns and 14 INT’s, while being sacked 32 times. Only three games into this season, Ford has almost been sacked half as many times as last season, at 14. Temple looks to take advantage of that visible weakness this week, starting with this week’s No. 1 jersey, DE Julian Taylor.

When asked if batting the ball down at the line and not going for the sack would be suffice against Ford who likes to get the ball out quick, he said, “Oh yeah, of course, I would love that too, that would be just like a sack, but I like sacks though.”

On the defensive side of the football for UMass, leading the way is LB Bryton Barr who has 32 total tackles, 14 solo, 1.5 fumble recoveries and one sack. The leader of the defensive line  is senior Ali Ali-Musa who has 21 total tackles, 1.5 fumble recoveries and one sack.

For their secondary, sophomore CB Isaiah Rodgers has been excellent, totaling 16 tackles, one interception and two passes broken up. Rodgers also serves as the kick returner for the Minutemen, totaling 209 yards thus far.

The Owls look to get a winning streak going with their second consecutive win at home this Friday. Kickoff is set for 7:00PM at Lincoln Financial Field. The game is being broadcasted on ESPNU, and you can listen on 97.5 The Fanatic.

Follow @TU_SportsDesk for all gameday coverage  

SportsDesk Practice Report: Notes And Interviews (9/12)

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Walking into Tuesday morning’s practice, you could feel the high intensity flying around the field. Who else but DB Cequan Jefferson and LB Chapelle Russell were dancing to a Future song blasting from the sound system on Chudnoff field. It’s a short week for the Owls as they take on UMass this Friday night. Coming off a victory this past Saturday to rival Villanova, Temple looks to improve upon their success, while still correcting the hiccups of a fairly slow start.

Chapelle Russell has emerged as a force on this defense after leading the team with 10 total tackles vs. Villanova. // Credit: Zamani Feelings

This week, the No. 1 jersey will be worn by senior DE Jullian Taylor. Ventell Bryant will stay at No. 19, and Michael Dogbe is back to his No. 98 for week 3.  Last season, Taylor had eight tackles in only three games before he suffered a season ending injury. This season he’s back in the defensive line rotation, and said he’s excited for the opportunity.

“It’s a dream come true, I’ve always wanted to wear a single digit number all five years. I’ve battled a lot of adversity, so just to wear it for a week, it’s the most exciting thing for me. I found out this morning in a team meeting, [Coach Collins] just announced it and I had the biggest smile on my face,”

Collins stressed to Taylor, and the rest of the team how important it is to keep their minds sharp during a short week. The team has just three full days of practice before their walkthrough, then gameday. The defense will look to continue their successful run stopping displayed against Villanova. After allowing 422 rushing yards in week 1 to Notre Dame, the front 7 bounced back in big way limiting the Wildcats to just 20 yards total on the ground.

The secondary will also look to shut down UMass’s two big receivers who so far are both top 20 in yards in Division 1 (read more in the preview Thursday). The Owls will look towards their corners Artrel Foster, Mike Jones and Derrek Thomas with the help of their new CB coach Cory Robinson to shut down the targets. 

Sean Chandler and the secondary are ready for battle in Week 3. // Credit: Zamani Feelings

Junior RB Ryquell Armstead was limited last week against Villanova due to some minor injuries. He hopes to get back on the field this week, and is ready to break out.

“I feel good, I feel amazing to be honest. I was a little banged up after week one but I feel great now so I’m ready for this week….I’ve got to go back to the drawing board in order to correct my mistakes, watch more film to prepare myself and just trusting my offensive line.”

Geoff Collins also noted his support of the fan presence in the home opener. “That was as good of a student body and as good of a band I have been around since I’ve been coaching. The energy was great and it gave our kids energy and life to go out there and play.”

As you can expect, Collins is treating this week like he would any other week.

“UMass is as tough as any opponent we’ll face. They have a lot of formations with different personnel that we have to make sure we prepare for. Their offense is not an easy one to prepare for so we made sure we made the right adjustments,” Collins said.

The game is set to kickoff Friday at 7PM at Lincoln Financial Field. It is being broadcasted on ESPNU and you can listen on 97.5 The Fanatic. Make sure you check back in to the SportsDesk for the postgame coverage.