Who’s To Blame For Temple Football Struggles?

No Comments

To put this piece into more context, Temple football dropped their homecoming matchup to UConn 28-24 on Saturday 10/14 and Brian Steinmetz was at the game. Read his recap piece here, and watch highlights and a breakdown of the game from Vince Coll and Brian in the SportsDesk postgame report.

Week after week it seems I write about the same topic and there never seems to be a change. Disclaimer: Yes the offense reached 473 total yards and scored three touchdowns so you know the unit is able to produce- but week after week, whether it’s turnovers, missed opportunities, blown calls, etc. it’s no secret that they need to find answers. After Saturday’s loss to UConn, the team’s woes have never been more apparent.

Where to put the majority of the blame is the biggest question. Is it the offensive line? The quarterback play? Questionable play calling? Or a culmination of all of these things?

One thing’s for sure, losing to UConn is inexcusable for a team coming off an AAC Championship. 

Sure, there’s a lot of moving parts to this Owls football team. Obviously, there is a new coaching staff, quarterback and overall a different feel to this team. Still, you can’t help but feel like Temple let this game slip away.

The most difficult part of this loss is the number of opportunities the team was given. After a slow start, the Owls’ defense was able to stand strong allowing one score in the third quarter, and the rest of the game.

However, a costly pick-six put the Owls’ comeback aspirations on hold for another quarter. Here, Temple made a strong push for a comeback victory. The Owls moved the ball down the field with ease on numerous occasions as their stout defense continued to make stops.

On the team’s final drive, they were unable to get the go-ahead touchdown.

The biggest question here would be the coaching staff’s decision to not kick a 34-yard field goal on 4th and 7 with 4:40 left on the clock. If converted, the kick would put the Owls within one point and give them the option of kicking a field goal to win the game, rather than going for a touchdown. Considering the defense had been dominating UConn and the Owls had two timeouts, this decision left many confused.

As this season has proven, these errors are exactly what have plagued the Owls this season.//Temple will need to hash out these offensive missteps as they travel to take on Army next Saturday.

Temple Offense Looks To Keep Momentum Rolling

No Comments
Logan Marchi had his way with a poor ECU defense on Saturday and will look to carry the momentum into the Owls’ remaining match ups. // Credit: Zamani Feelings

Logan Marchi and the rest of the Owls offense began to figure things out on Saturday against a woeful 1-5 East Carolina team. Marchi came into the game with questions and did his best to answer them. Following 7 interceptions and a combined QBR of just 8 in the past two games (0-2 in that span), many were wondering if Marchi should still be the starter under center. The beginning of the ECU game saw similar questions.

The offense started slowly against the conference’s worst total defense, not just conference, but a bottom-ten defense in the country. After the Pirates went ahead 3-0 in the first quarter, Marchi threw a bad interception. This gave many a queasy feeling of deja vu. The first quarter was the only quarter this season ECU’s defense shut out any team. Luckily, the Owls bounced back and played surprisingly well.//Marchi did not commit a turnover for the remainder of the game. In fact, he threw for 2 touchdowns and over 300 yards, while putting up a QBR of 85.7. He was able to get 10 different receivers involved in this game with sophomore standout, Isaiah Wright leading the way with 6 rec, 91 yards, and 1 TD.

While Marchi’s breakthrough is significant to cover, it’s also interesting to follow another storyline. No bigger storyline may be that of the emergence of David Hood.

David Hood rushed for his first 100-yard performance of his career vs. ECU. // Credit: Zamani Feelings

 

Armstead has been the top back throughout the first few games, but a recent injury to his foot has opened the door for David Hood. One week ago, Hood received some valuable snaps as Armstead was being medically attended to. In that time he ran for 53 yards on 8 carries, while also catching a touchdown. This Saturday, Hood was given the start. Needless to say, he capitalized. On 20 carries, the running back ran for 106 yards and a touchdown. For the season, Hood has rushed for 214 yards on 31 fewer carries than Armstead. When Armstead returns from injury, it will be interesting to see how the carries are split between the backs.

If the running game and Marchi can continue to click, the Owls may be poised for a run. Not that this team has shown the promise of the 2016 AAC championship team, but they were 3-3 through six games last year as well.

 

Post Game Report: Temple vs Houston

No Comments

Too little, too late for the Temple Owls. After the team mounted a strong comeback effort, they came up just short in the closing minutes of the game.

When the game began, Temple came out to a slow start. Houston was able to get up on the Owls 13-0, as the two teams went into the half. This isn’t to say that Temple didn’t have their chances early on. The Owls started on the 50, and 47 yard line in their first two possessions. Unfortunately, the Owls were not able to capitalize on either of these opportunities. Later in the first half, safety Dalvon Randall intercepted Houston quarterback Kyle Postma. The team looked to be capturing momentum, but once again, they could not capitalize as Logan Marchi was then intercepted.

Credit: Philly.com

The second half was a closer battle. Houston came out strong scoring on their first drive and making the score 20-0. After that, Temple showed signs of life following Ryquell Armstead’s 17 yard run. The Owls were then able to get on the board as Austin Jones hit a 41 yard field goal. The Temple defense then forced a 3rd down stop, allowing Logan Marchi to connect with David Hood for a 1 yard touchdown pass.

With the score now 20-10, the Owls were finally showing signs of life which was jolted by a big hit from Chapelle Russell on Houston’s Kyle Postma. Temple was once again able to get on the board as Jones nailed another field goal making the score 20-13.

The game seemed within reach as the Owls were able to stop the Cougars and get one more shot at scoring. Unfortunately, they were not able to do so. Following a questionable play call and an errant 4th down pass, Temple fell short short of victory.

Once again, there will be several adjustments to be made following the game. Look for Coach Collins and the Owls to correct these mistakes and earn a bounce-back win against next week against East Carolina University.

Quarterback Questions Plaguing Owls Offense

No Comments

Temple football put forth a number of interesting plot lines following their loss against the University of Southern Florida. The most noticeable of these has been a recurring question throughout the season — who should be Temple’s starting quarterback.

Following the team’s previous win against the University of Massachusetts, the Owls seemed to be set with their quarterback. Logan Marchi finally seemed to becoming acclimated with his receivers and the offense. Then, against USF, he took a massive step backwards. After a poor start highlighted by 2 early interceptions, head coach Geoff Collins elected to replace Marchi with redshirt-senior Frank Nutile. Then, after a so-so start from Nutile, the team elected rotate quarterbacks regularly not allowing either to get into the swing of the game.

Marchi struggled to start the game, and throughout the rotation role added another interception and fumble to his mounting turnover list. The stat line at the end of the game was forgettable- completing 3 of 13 passes for 32 yards and 3 interceptions. Nutile also struggled throwing for 57 yards on 5 of 13 attempts with 1 interception.

Russo is the only of the four quarterbacks to not play against USF (Cred://Temple Football Forever)

Now the question becomes, who will be the quarterback of the future for Owls? Obviously Temple could go back to Marchi, but one must question his confidence following his benching. Still, Marchi has the most experience of all the quarterbacks. Nutile is another candidate due to his comfortability when thrown into the game. If Collins decides to make a long-term move he may decide to start either Anthony Russo or Todd Centeio. Both are freshmen (Russo is a redshirt) and offer different, high-upside playing styles. By starting either of these quarterbacks, the coaching staff could establish the starter of the future. At the end of the day, the Owls will most likely start Marchi with a short-leash going forward.

Whoever the quarterback may be, the Owls need to bounce-back with the Houston Cougars coming to town this Saturday at 12 PM.

 

Owls Pass Defense Needs Work Before USF

No Comments

As Temple football sits at 2-1 through three games, that’s where most fans had the team before a week 4 matchup at South Florida. It seems Owl fans are still uneasy. The unit has struggled in each of their first three games, including the most lopsided loss in the last nine seasons to Notre Dame in the opener. This past week, Temple took on the University of Massachusetts- an 0-3 team fresh out of an ugly loss against FCS school Old Dominion. To be blunt, UMass is not a good football team and Temple was only able to beat them by 8 points.

As I wrote in my previous article, there are many things contributing to the Owls lack of production. After the game against UMass, quarterback problems can be ruled out. Logan Marchi finally looked to be comfortable in the pocket passing for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sure, there were some moments he would like to have back, but it’s encouraging to see his improvement, and he was never necessarily a detriment to the offense.

The Owls secondary came into this season with high expectations and have disappointed so far. Safeties Sean Chandler (left) and Delvon Randall (right) face a big test on Thursday. // Credit: USA Today

If the Owls have any hope of winning going forward, they will need to improve their pass defense. It’s been ugly for a Temple secondary laden with NFL talent so far this year. Quarterbacks have had their way with the team’s secondary. Through 3 games, these are the stats opposing QB’s have been able to put up: UMass- Andrew Ford 377 yards, 2 TD’s; Villanova- Zack Bednarczyk 382 yards, 1 TD; Notre Dame, Brian Wimbush 184 yards, 2 TD’s.

Obviously, it hasn’t been pretty. If the Owls can’t shape up ASAP they will be in for an unpleasant Week 4 against USF. The Bulls is ranked 22nd in the nation. One of the big reasons for that is their QB, Quinton Flowers.

Flowers is well-known throughout the nation as a Heisman sleeper. So far, he’s proven he deserves to be considered. Through 3 games Flowers has lead his offense to average 40 points per game. He’s thrown for 616 yards, 8 TD’s and ran for 243 yards with 2 scores.

Bleacher Report released this pre season top-10 Heisman watch article, listing Flowers at #10 on the list.

For the Owls to contain him, they will need their secondary to step up. If they can take away either his ability to run or to pass, the chance of pulling an upset drastically increases.

Hopefully the Temple football team can steal a win in Florida this Tuesday night.

Offensive Woes Need Answers Moving Forward

No Comments
Temple’s only offensive touchdown on Saturday came via a 1-yard Nick Sharga run. // Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Temple Owls football team earned their first win on Saturday, clawing their way to a 16-13 point victory over Villanova. For other teams this could be a positive, but not for Temple. Whenever an FCS unit takes on a recent top-25 football team, you should expect the latter to win by a large margin. Looking around the NCAA (especially so far this season) that isn’t always the case, but for Temple football fans, a bar has been set- and a lot more convincing needs to be done this season.

After 2 games, there are several problems with the Owls group. The biggest of their problems lie within the offense.

The first offensive struggle is with the run game. Ryquell Armstead is an above-average running back, but the offensive line is rendering him useless. The big guys up-front have been struggling to get an push off the line, and Armstead has gathered a mere 86 yards on 31 carries through the team’s first 2 games. That’s just 2.7 yards per carry for the returning 900-yard rusher. Just like years past, If the Owls intend on seriously contending, they will need the help of their running game.

Anther offensive struggle has been well documented since the spring game — the passing game. Logan Marchi won the Owls quarterback battle this offseason and hasn’t exactly played good, but he hasn’t been bad either.

In Marchi’s defense, as well as the offense as a whole, many have questioned the decision making in terms of play calls by new Offensive Coordinator Dave Patenaude. In addition, Marchi has yet to turn the ball over through his first two games under center (69 pass attempts).

Logan Marchi will look to take control of a productive offense this week vs. 0-3 UMass // Credit: USA Today Sports

However, he hasn’t necessarily made plays for the Owls. He’s made risky decisions that, luckily, have not come back to bite him. On top of that, he’s struggled to connect with several of his receivers. This was on full display last week when he missed a wide-open Brodrick Yancy early in the second half on Saturday. Marchi’s QBR ratings of 29.9 Week 1 and 66.6 Week 2 highlight his struggles to get on the same page as his receivers.

The unit has several crucial games in the near future where they need their offense to click on all cylinders. It may not be this Friday against a struggling UMass team who dropped all 3 of their games so far this season, but conference play opens with a bang at South Florida the following week.

Editor’s Note, Week of 9/11: Starting this week, a recap from Tuesday football practices will be brought to you by Brian Steinmetz. Our weekly profile (Wed.) from Chris Zeigler will look at DE Sharif Finch. Temple vs. UMass game preview on Thursday, kickoff from Lincoln Financial Field is Friday night (9/15) at 7 p.m.. Follow @TU_Sportsdesk on Twitter for updates all week.

Owls Offensive Line Set For Week 2 Rebound

No Comments

Last weekend the Temple Owls took on Notre Dame. Unfortunately, the Owls were no match for the Irish as they fell to the score of 49-16.

Credit: Indiana Sports Coverage

There were many parts of the Temple football units that seemed to contribute to their loss, but the offensive line noticeably struggled. Throughout the game, the fighting Irish was able to put constant pressure on quarterback Logan Marchi. Marchi was able to avoid some of the pressure, but was still sacked 3 times for a total loss of 20 yards. This constant pressure resulted in missed opportunities for the Owls’ offense — most notably the inability to fully capitalize on Mike Jones’ interception in the 3rd quarter.

Credit: CSN Philly

The offensive line’s struggles came to a head in the rushing game. Even with a proven running back in Ryquell Armstead, they were only able to muster 85 total rushing yards. Armstead accounted for 67 of those yards on 19 attempts averaging 3.5 yards per carry. The next highest rusher was Jager Garner with a mere 19 yards. The Owls’ line struggled to get an initial push at the line of scrimmage which resulting in this lack of production. The only Temple football player who was an effective blocker was Nick Sharga. Sharga routinely made good blocks setting up running lanes for Armstead.

Credit: WBZW

Temple should fare better against Villanova. Nova scarcely beat Lehigh 38-35 this past weekend. While the Wildcats played great against the run (78 yards allowed, 2.7 ypc), the team barely blitzed. This will result in less pressure on Marchi and allow him to play within the offense. It is important to note that Nova’s defense is built to produced without constant pressure on the quarterback. Instead they play within the system, put their “No Fly Zone” defensive backs on an island and putting a massive amount of trust in their linebacking core.

Expect the Owls to fix their mistakes against Villanova this Saturday at 3:30.

 

Notre Dame Offensive Line Serve As Huge Threat To Owls

No Comments
Several NCAA analysts have Notre Dame’s OL among the top in the country. // Credit: ND Rivals

Temple football has a tall task coming up in taking on Notre Dame. Perhaps the tallest task for the team will be taking on the Fighting Irish’s offensive line.

Last season, Pro Football Focus ranked Notre Dame as the #1 preseason offensive line in the NCAA. Of that group, 4 of 5 starters are returning. Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson, Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars are the lineman coming back. The open spot on the offensive line is right tackle. Tommy Kraemer, Liam Eichenberg and Robert Hainsey all are in the mix for that spot.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com commented on Notre Dame’s impressive front.

“The strength of the team will be along the offensive line and specifically the left side with Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson. Nelson might be the most effective run blocker I studied on tape this summer and McGlinchey is an ace in pass protection. Notre Dame has two quality tight ends and exciting young prospects in Equanimeous St. Brown and Josh Adams. Defensively, the Irish are a little light on talent with Jerry Tillery, Nyles Morgan and Drue Tranquill as some of the draftable talent.”

CBS, Fox, Pro Football Focus and other websites already list 6’8″ McGlinchey as a top-10 pick in next year’s draft.

To make matters worse, the Fighting Irish have one of the best up-and-coming running backs in Josh Adams. Adams totaled a career high 933 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns and averaged 6.4 yards per carry. Now with an even more experienced offensive line, expect Adams to breakout.

Temple football will struggle to penetrate this offensive line and stop Adams. This year they lost all of their starting defensive line except Michael Dogbe- even though it isn’t as bad as it sounds. On the ends will be experience in Jacob Martin and Sharif Finch, and Freddy Booth-Lloyd will likely fill in the other starting DT role. 

With praise from coach Collins throughout the off-season, Shaun Bradley will likely take the reigns as top linebacker for Temple this season. // Credit: Philly.com

The Owls also lost all 3 of their starting linebackers. Young guys like Chapelle Russell, Shaun Bradley, and William Kwenkeu will now likely be pushed into the starting lineup as leaders of the defense. As physical and gifted as the coaches have praised the linebackers to be, game experience is a huge factor. Especially in week one. At Notre Dame. 

 

SportsDesk Impact Player #2: The Quarterback(s)

No Comments

Coming in at #2 on the SportsDesk impact player list, we look at the Quarterback position. A position so important to the success of a team, it was a borderline #1 selection on our list. With Temple coming off of back to back 10-win seasons, one of the most consistent performers was current Indianapolis Colt Phillip Walker.

Consistency at the signal caller position goes a long way in terms of projections, and it may be the sole reason why the Owls aren’t being selected outright in the East by news organizations previewing the AAC. The team selected by USA Today to edge out Temple in the division: South Florida. USA Today has South Florida QB Quinton Flowers ranked #1 QB in the conference. “If Flowers isn’t the best player in the AAC this season he won’t be far off.” You can see the correlation, and also how good the Owls’ roster is to be ranked second with the current quarterback situation.

Courtesy: USA Today Sports
After being the primary backup to Phillip Walker last season, it seemed like the starting job was Marchi’s to lose. // Credit: Philly.com

Temple’s quarterback controversy has been well documented since the departure of Walker. Walker was the team’s starting QB for the past 3+ seasons and holds most Temple football records at that position. Now, the Owls need to find a new leader.

When camp started, Logan Marchi looked to be the incumbent starter. He had been Walker’s backup the previous season and received positive reviews on his leadership abilities. Obviously, when the spring game came around all eyes were on him. Sadly, Marchi struggled mightily completing just 4 of his 10 passes for 92 yards and 2 interceptions.

This opened the door for the QB’s (Frank Nutile, Anthony Russo, and Todd Centeio) to try and capture the starting spot. Since Russo and Nutile were older, and have better size than Centeio, it seemed that they would have a better chance of challenging Marchi. Oddly enough, that wasn’t true. Each quarterback was just, OK with little flashes here and there. Centeio on the other hand was impressive. He made good decisions and seemed comfortable in the pocket. On the day he racked up 110 yards and a touchdown, while completing 9 of his 13 passes.

Still, Marchi seems to have a good chance of starting come week 1. Marc Narducci of the Philly Inquirer said it best, “This job appeared in the spring to be Marchi’s to lose, and while he didn’t lose it, last year’s backup also wasn’t able to snag it.

Frank Nutile (senior) is the oldest contender for the starting job. The last two open media practices featured Nutile taking first-team reps. // Courtesy: Twitter

Earlier in the spring Coach Collins went in front of the media and claimed he wanted to name a starting QB two weeks before the season started. The game is now nine days away and there has yet to be an announcement. Geoff Collins said after practice Thursday there’s a good chance more than one quarterback will play in the season opener. “I say two will play more than the others, and a third one could come in with a special package.”

Whoever starts next week behind center will have a lot on their plate, but will also have the luxury of a proven run game to fall back on. I wouldn’t count out the possibility of seeing two starting quarterbacks to shake things up for Notre Dame. With this much time to figure things out, you would like to assume the coaching staff will trot out a sufficient starter who can do a little learning but also maintain the flow of an offense.

For #1 on this list, Ryquell Amstead is a clear choice. Read our story on his newly awarded single digit, as the halfback will wear #7 for the Owls this season.

Rose a Stand Out at USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team Training Camp

No Comments
Credit: David Maialett

Quinton Rose was a stand out early this past season. In a four game stretch from November 20th to the 25th Rose a averaged 16.5 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, and 2.8 assists per game. This was topped off by a huge 26 point explosion against a ranked Florida State team.

From there on out, Rose was fairly inconsistent. He was only able to eclipse 15 points in 2 of the following 25 games. On the season, Rose averaged 9.7 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game, and 1.8 assists per game. Obviously, none of these number jump off the page at you, but they are solid none the less. His efforts were also good enough to land him a sport on the American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team. Additionally, you got a glimpse of how great Rose could be in the future.

Apparently, so did the USA Mens U-19 Team. They recently offered Rose a spot of the World Cup Team for their training camp. The team is loaded with young talent like Marques Bolden of Duke, Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky, and highly rated incoming recruits like Bol Bol (son of Manute Bol) and Trae Young.The coach of the team will be Kentucky’s coach John Calipiri.

So, far so good. Rose has been tearing it up in practices. As of now he looks like he’s one of the stand outs of the group and many experts agree.

Other spectators have said the Rose is one of the most consistent players there thus far. With his combination of size (6’8, 190lbs) and speed Rose has a real chance of climbing in the 2018 draft.

Hopefully, Rose will return with even more refined skills and bring the Owls back to the NCAA Tournament.