Temple football is back and fresh off their much needed bye week. Losers of their last two, most recently coming from a crushing OT loss to Army 31-28, the Owls look to bounce back when they take on the Navy Midshipmen this Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Owls (3-5) look to get back on track in conference play, starting 1-3 on the year. They’ve scored just 78 points, which is the worst in the conference, though they gave up only 101 points, which is third best, certainly that is something to lean on heading into the final four games of the regular season.
In their overtime loss to Army, first-time starter at QB Frank Nutile had an impressive day. The QB went 20-29 on passing attempts giving him a career best 290 passing and one touchdown.
RB Ryquell Armstead found his groove for his best game of the season, compiling 151 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. That’s more rushing yards than Armstead’s last 4 games combined, and his best game since his week 3 performance vs. UMass where he rushed for 91 yards on 17 carries.
WR Isaiah Wright also had a very productive day, racking up 150 all-purpose yards. He had 3 catches for 79 yards, to go along with one big touchdown rush of 50 yards. Wright also gained some yards on punt return.
WR Adonis Jennings continued to be productive for the Owls hauling in 4 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. This was Jennings’ best game since he tallied 75 yards week 2 vs. Villanova. He hasn’t caught less than 30 yards in a game this season.
Defensively, the duo of sophomores, Shaun Bradley and Chapelle Russell continued to dominate. Bradley led the way with 11 tackles, and Russell followed with 9 of his own. DE Jacob Martin and CB Artrel Foster combined for the only sack of the day for the Owls.
Senior S Sean Chandler caught his first interception of the season on the last play of the first half. That interception, the eighth of his four-year career at Temple, moved him up into 11th on Temple’s all-time interceptions list.
The Temple defense held the Army rushing game to just 248 yards in the game, which is a season low for Army.
For the second week in a row, Frank Nutile will start at QB for the Owls. Logan Marchi will play only in an emergency situation, said Coach Collins in today’s press conference. Although, Anthony Russo has been taking backup snaps behind Nutile for the last two weeks. If Russo were to play, it would be his first time in his career at Temple.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to compete against a great team. I treat it the same way I’ve treated every week so far, same preparation, same process, and attack the week the same way I have been,” said Nutile on getting his second start this season.
This week’s coveted No. 1 jersey will be worn by redshirt freshman DE Dan Archibong. This season, Archibong has 11 total tackles and 2 passes defended.
“He does an unbelievable job for us. He’s started a lot of games for us. He’s a tough, physical kid, unselfish kid. He’s another kid who I’m not sure has gotten a ‘B’ since he’s been in college,” said Coach Collins. “Kids like Dan who play Division 1 football in one of the toughest conferences in football and still do good in school, should be celebrated and we can do that for Dan.”
For the Navy Midshipmen, they enter Thursday’s primetime matchup at 5-2, 3-2 in conference play. Just like Temple, they come in losers of their last two contests. Navy only needs one more win to become bowl eligible for the sixth straight season.
The Midshipmen will try to become bowl eligible in a stadium in which they’ve never lost. Navy is 12-0 all-time at Lincoln Financial Field, 10-0 against Army and 2-0 against the Owls. The last time Navy entered LFF to play the Owls was in 2014 where they won 31-24.
Temple last played Navy in the 2016 AAC Championship game where Temple knocked off the Midshipmen 34-10. In the contest, Temple was able to shut down Navy’s usually potent triple option, and WR’s Keith Kirkwood and Ventell Bryant combined for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
In doing so, Temple won the conference championship, after falling short the year before to the Houston Cougars 24-13.
Leading the triple option for the Midshipmen is their junior QB Zach Abey. Abey doesn’t throw the ball too much, throwing only 51 times completing just 19 of those throws for a total of 606 yards, 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Abey doesn’t throw much because he ranks second in the nation in yards per game with 163, leading the Navy rushing attack which is number one in the nation. The QB has carried the ball 208 times, 58 more times then the next 3 leading rushers combined, for a grand total of of 1,208 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns.
In Navy’s last game against UCF, Abey left the game early with a head injury after a vicious hit by an opposing linebacker early in the third quarter. Abey remained on the ground for several minutes while the training staff took a look at him. He eventually walked off on his own power, but did not return to the game.
Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo expressed confidence that his QB will be healthy and ready to play come Thursday night to take on the Owls.
Helping out Abey with the running game is sophomore Malcolm Perry, who has carried 39 times for 436 yards and 3 touchdowns. Perry is also the team’s second leading receiver with 6 catches for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. Also getting a healthy amount of touches in the backfield is senior RB Chris High. On the season, High has 89 carries for 414 yards and one touchdown.
The leading receiver for Navy is senior WR Tyler Carmona who has hauled in 8 of Abey’s 19 completions for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns. Behind Carmona and Perry on the receiving yards list is senior RB Darryl Bonner who has caught 5 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown, also rushing for 139 yards on 22 carries, scoring one touchdown.
There’s no question who the biggest threat is in Navy’s offensive game and it’s their junior starting quarterback. Look for Temple’s defense to perhaps put a spy on him to shut down his running game early and contain his breakout ability.
Defensively for the Midshipmen, leading the team in tackles is junior S Sean Williams. Williams on the year, has 54 total tackles, four passed defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Leading the team in interceptions, is senior LB Micah Thomas, with two on the season so far. To go along with the interceptions, Thomas has 42 total tackles, two passes defended and one forced fumble.
Helping out Thomas in the front seven is fellow senior LB D.J. Palmore, who has 41 total tackles, 8 for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries. Leading the defensive line for Navy is senior DE Tyler Sayles who has 33 total tackles, three for loss.
The series between Temple and Navy is tied 6-6 all-time. The past three seasons, Temple is 4-1 coming off a bye week. And in the last two Novembers, the Owls have compiled a 6-1 record.
The game is set to kick off from Lincoln Financial Field, Thursday night at 8:00PM. It will be broadcasted on ESPN and you can listen in on 610 WTEL.
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