Temple Owls

Temple-UMass observations: It wasn't pretty but Owls hang on to top UMass

Temple-UMass observations: It wasn't pretty but Owls hang on to top UMass

BOX SCORE

It wasn’t pretty and it was much closer than Temple probably would have wanted, but the Owls dispatched UMass, 29-21, Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls badly needed to gain momentum ahead of a critical matchup against the American Athletic Conference favorite — No. 22 South Florida — and after a sloppy start, they did.

After UMass took a 7-3 lead with 2:23 left in the second quarter, Temple sprung off 16 unanswered points and grinded out a gritty win in front of an announced “22,911” fans.

Temple quarterback Logan Marchi connected on two quick touchdown passes to close out the first half — a 30-yard TD toss to Adonis Jennings and then an 11-yarder to Keith Kirkwood with 10 seconds left in the second quarter. After Marchi’s TD pass to Jennings, redshirt freshman defensive end Quincy Roche forced and recovered a fumble.

Roche’s turnover allowed the Owls to take a 16-7 lead into halftime. Despite UMass keeping it close in the second half, TU was able to escape because of that momentum.

It’s Temple’s second straight win and Geoff Collins’ second win as coach. UMass is 0-4.

• It was quite the first half for Roche, who had three tackles for loss and two sacks in the first quarter, and then the forced fumble and recovery in the second quarter. He had three sacks, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery at the half.

• Temple sacked UMass QB Andrew Ford nine times. Roche had three, Sam Franklin and Sharif Finch had two, while Jacob Martin and Isaiah Graham-Mobley had one.

• While the Temple defense had a solid night stopping the run — allowed just 81 yards on the ground — and creating pressure, its pass defense left much to be desired. Ford threw for over 377 yards and UMass picked up 25 first downs against Temple. But credit goes to defensive back Derrek Thomas for coming through in a big moment.

On a 4th-and-10 on the Temple 28-yard line in the fourth quarter, Ford went deep intended for Brennon Dingle, and if it weren’t for a heady play by Thomas, UMass could have tied the game with a two-point conversion. Thomas turned his head around and defended the ball. A flag was thrown but then picked up for no foul.

• Temple needs to find a way to get Isaiah Wright the ball more. He’s dynamic. Wright put the game away with a beautiful one-handed TD grab in the corner of the end zone with 3:48 left. Wright’s touchdown gave Temple a 29-14 lead. It was gorgeous.

Wright had four catches for 69 yards and a TD.

• We got our first glimpse at freshman quarterback Todd Centeio on the first drive of the second quarter. Centeio completed his first two passes for 20 yards, picked up a first down and the offense appeared to have more life with him under center than Marchi. But then Collins put Marchi back in on a 3rd-and-3 on the UMass 24-yard line. Temple failed to convert, which led to an Aaron Boumerhi 43-yard blocked field goal attempt. But the decision to take Centeio out was questionable. The Owls’ offense finally had some flow, some positive plays, some momentum. Then the switch at QB.

It didn’t make much sense, and it potentially cost TU seven points. Collins is a rookie coach, and these type of decisions are something he’ll learn along the way. Temple rotated QBs from Marchi to Centeio in the second quarter. Marchi got the brunt of the workload Friday. It was a grisly start for the redshirt sophomore, but he settled down.

• Marchi made his third start and was underwhelming before heating up in the second half of the second quarter. He finished the half on a high note, with two TDs — the 30-yarder to Jennings and 11-yarder to Kirkwood. He was better in the second half. Final line: 22 of 37 for 248 yards, three TDs. He has yet to throw an INT.

• I think it’s time to throw the option play out of the playbook as long as Marchi is the quarterback. It’s not working and it’s a momentum-killer.

• Ryquell Armstead, who entered the game averaging just 2.8 yards per carry, finally gained some traction on the ground. While it was as a result of a few big runs — including a 56-yard scamper — Armstead, a junior, had 91 yards on 17 carries.

• It was a rough night to be a kicker. UMass kicker Michael Schreiner missed two field goals in the first half. For Temple, Austin Jones missed an extra point and Boumerhi had a field goal blocked. All of those came in the first half, which featured largely bad football.

• Just kidding. Boumerhi redeemed himself with a 52-yarder in the third quarter. It barely cleared the goal post. It was a career-long kick for Boumerhi, and the longest by a Temple kicker since Brandon McManus’ 53-yarder Sept. 3, 2010, against Villanova.

• Schreiner missed another FG in the second half. He is 0 for 4 so far in his career.

• Temple has a short week. The Owls move on and head to Tampa for a Thursday night game against conference favorite, No. 22 South Florida, easily their stiffest challenge of the season. Sure, Temple began the Collins era in South Bend, Indiana, against Notre Dame, a storied program with NFL talent but one that has lost 11 of its last 16 matches, including bowl games, under Brian Kelly’s guidance. USF offers a healthy challenge.

The Bulls, led by Charlie Strong, the former University of Texas head coach, feature dual-threat quarterback Quinton Flowers that should provide the Owls’ defense with nightmares. Collins came to Temple regarded as a defensive guru, and the defense is going through growing pains having to replace seven starters. The USF game will be the measuring stick to see where this Owls team is. I wouldn’t expect a pretty outcome.

But, hey, Temple won Friday night. The Owls are 2-1. There is no reason for Temple fans to come down to earth yet. The Owls can enjoy this one for a couple of days.

Fran Dunphy and Herb Magee to host an exhibition for charity

uspresswire-temple-fran-dunphy.jpg
US Presswire

Fran Dunphy and Herb Magee to host an exhibition for charity

Two legendary Philadelphia basketball coaches will square off for charity.

Temple’s Fran Dunphy and Jefferson’s (Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University) Herb Magee will have their teams face off at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

All ticket sales will be donated to One America Appeal to help those impacted by recent hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

“When the opportunity presented itself to play an exhibition game to raise money for the people suffering from the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, we knew right away that we needed to be a part of it,” Dunphy said in a statement. "I called my good friend, Herb Magee, one of the most respected men in the business, and he felt the same way. This gives our fans a rare opportunity to see our programs compete while also helping out those in need.”

“It is a tremendous opportunity for our team,” Magee said. “Coach Dunphy and I have been friends for a long time. We talked about playing one day and that time is now. We're looking forward to it, especially as we begin our new era as the Jefferson Rams. Being able to provide aid to those impacted by the recent natural disasters makes this game that much more special.”

Temple requested a waiver from the NCAA to play this exhibition for charity.

The Owls tip off their season against Old Dominion in the Charleston Classic on Nov. 16, while the Rams travel to Anaheim, California to open Concordia on Nov. 3.

Temple abandons identity against UConn, now searching for how to become bowl eligible

Temple abandons identity against UConn, now searching for how to become bowl eligible

BOX SCORE

This was personal for Logan Marchi.

After all, Temple’s starting quarterback wouldn’t even be sporting cherry and white Saturday afternoons if his original plan went as scheduled.

Marchi, a Bristol, Connecticut, native, was set to attend UConn after high school. That is, until his scholarship offer was pulled by the Huskies shortly before national signing day.

Temple ultimately came back around and reoffered to Marchi, who signed on the spot.

All of that added a little spice to Saturday’s matchup between Temple and Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field. Certainly, Marchi would want to put on a show. He just didn’t realize it would be a personal show.

Marchi dropped back for a career-high 54 pass attempts as Temple’s lopsided offense couldn’t help pull off a comeback in a 28-24 homecoming loss to UConn (see observations).

“I think any time you go into any game you want to try and be as balanced as you possibly can,” Temple offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said. “They did a good job early on in the first half of blitzing us and being aggressive in the run game. They also came in with a fairly porous pass defense, so we knew going in we felt like we would be able to throw it.”

Oh, they threw it all right. The Owls (3-4, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) threw when they were ahead early. They went to the air when things were tight during the middle of the game. And they tossed the ball around, even more, when they were trailing late.

It made for a nice day in the stat books for Marchi (career-best 356 yards, one touchdown and one interception). But, more importantly, it threw Temple’s offense out of whack as the team attempted 55 total passes (one spike to stop the clock not charged to Marchi) compared to 29 runs in the program’s first homecoming defeat since 2008.

“I would never imagine wanting to throw it 55 times,” Patenaude said. “We’re not like a Texas Tech type of group that wants to do that over and over again. You always want to be more balanced.”

Patenaude is exactly right. No one will ever mistake Temple’s offense for the Air Raid attack used by the Red Raiders. And that’s a good thing. TU has moved its way up the college football ranks the old-fashioned way: dominating the run game and playing stingy defense.

That commitment to the run is what allowed Bernard Pierce, Montel Harris and Jahad Thomas to all eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark in recent Temple history.

Despite being banged up, Ryquell Armstead, David Hood and the rest of the team’s running backs are waiting for their chance to be able to join that list. They showed flashes against the Huskies as the rushing attack went over the century mark for a third straight game (117 yards) and produced just the second and third scores on the ground from tailbacks this season.

But that quest to have a run-first mentality wasn’t going to get started on this Saturday. The Owls were focused on putting on an aerial show right from the start vs. UConn (2-4, 1-3 AAC), which worked for a while against the AAC’s worst pass defense.

Marchi was on target early. He connected with his receivers downfield when those opportunities presented themselves. However, with the Huskies playing deep coverage, a lot of Marchi’s work came underneath. He found his backs time and again for checkdowns (Hood finished with a team-high eight catches for 91 yards).

That was fine until the Owls’ defense stumbled a bit and the team began trying to play catch-up. Then the wideouts endured a case of the drops and the redshirt sophomore QB threw a critical pick-six near the end of the third quarter to put Temple back down by 14 points.

“We’ve got to execute. We didn’t execute out there today,” Marchi said. “We’ve got to catch passes. We’ve got to make the throws that are there and move the ball better. I thought we did that well coming out in the second half, moving down the field. We’ve just got to make the plays that are there.”

“I thought Logan had some nice balls. We’ve challenged them for the last couple weeks. We’ve got to make those catches,” Temple head coach Geoff Collins said of the dropped passes. “I thought vs. ECU, we were making those catches. We were making the hard catches and we were making the routine catches. There were sometimes out there today, even some of the routine catches, we weren’t pulling down. We’ve got to make sure we do that. 

“It’s been a point of emphasis and we’ll just keep stressing it because in games like this every single time that you drop a pass or there’s an incompletion on a makeable catch, that sets you back. It hurts the momentum, it hurts the tempo. When we were clicking, we were hitting on all cylinders. We were moving the ball up and down the field. Then one drop or one missed target is going to not be good for us.”

True, Temple’s offense was clicking on all cylinders most of the day against UConn. TU won a majority of the battles on the stat sheet, particularly in total yardage (473-244).

Still, the Owls were the ones that walked away back under the .500 mark and searching for answers to how they can make it to bowl eligibility.

“There are obviously some hurt kids in there,” Collins said of the mood in the locker room.

Temple is better off when it's the one hurting opponents on the field, primarily on the ground.