Temple Owls

Temple vs. UMass: Owls' chance for momentum under the lights

college-football-temple-umass.jpg
CSN

Temple vs. UMass: Owls' chance for momentum under the lights

Temple (1-1, 0-0 AAC) vs. Massachusetts (0-3, Independent)
Lincoln Financial Field
Friday, 7 p.m., ESPNU

 
It was far from easy and there were many bruises to heal this week, but Temple secured its first win of the Geoff Collins era last week when the Owls held on for dear life against a scrappy Villanova squad for a 16-13 victory.
 
Now, less than a week later, the Owls return to the Linc under the bright Friday night lights to face off against a struggling UMass squad.
 
Head coach Mark Whipple’s Minutemen have stumbled out of the gate to an 0-3 record that includes losses to Hawaii, Coastal Carolina and Old Dominion. In those three games, the Minutemen have given up a total of 93 points.
 
This is clearly a prime opportunity for the Owls to get some needed momentum in all phases.
 
Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:
 
Scouting Temple
While it certainly wasn’t the most polished performance, redshirt sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi looked more comfortable in the pocket last week against Villanova. Sure, the FCS Wildcats aren’t the Notre Dame team Marchi went up against in Week 1. But he was still making better decisions and reads. Last week, he went 20 of 34 for 274 yards and also executed a near flawless two-minute drive at the end of the first half that gave Temple its only TD of the day. He still needs to get rid of the ball more frequently when he’s in trouble and not take a sack or force a throw, but that will come in time for a young QB.
 
Marchi was aided by the return of junior wideout Ventell Bryant, last season’s leading receiver, who missed the Nore Dame game with a hamstring injury. In his season debut, Bryant reeled in seven catches for 79 yards on the day, including a spectacular one-handed snag as the Owls drove and kicked a field goal to take the 16-13 lead that held. Senior Keith Kirkwood leads the Owls with eight grabs for 121 yards and a TD this season.
 
Collins admitted the workload of running back Ryquell Armstead was limited last week as the junior suffered an undisclosed injury the prior week at Notre Dame. With that, the Owls’ rushing attack was stifled for the second consecutive game. Temple had just 79 yards on 22 carries last week. Thought to be a strength coming into the season, Temple rushers have just 164 yards on 64 carries on the season.
 
The Temple defense has been a Jekyll and Hyde show the first two weeks of the season. After getting scorched by the Notre Dame ground game for 422 yards and five touchdowns out in South Bend, the Owls smothered the Wildcats for just 20 yards on 30 carries last week. But after holding the Irish in check through the air with just 184 yards, the Owls had no answer for Villanova QB Zach Bednarczyk and his 382 passing yards on 27 attempts last week. So, what exactly is the problem with Temple’s defense? Or, even worse, is there more than one problem?

Scouting Massachusetts
Offense hasn’t been the issue for the Minutemen, who are averaging 23.3 points over their first three contests. Junior QB Andrew Ford has been efficient, throwing for 827 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception so far this season. Last week vs. Old Dominion, he went 21 of 32, for 236 yards and a score. He did go over 300 yards in the loss to Coastal Carolina two weeks ago.
 
Junior tight end Adam Breneman has been Ford’s favorite target on the season. The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder has recorded two games of over 100 yards receiving on the season already — 179 yards on nine grabs vs. Hawaii and 126 yards on nine more catches vs. Coastal Carolina. His 323 yards on the season are already almost halfway to his total from last season.
 
Junior Marquis Young has been the lead horse at running back for the Minutemen. He’s rushed for 149 yards and four TDs this season. Those four TDs already match his total from all of last season. The guy knows how to find the end zone as he’s got 15 TDs over his first two seasons and change at the collegiate level.
 
The UMass defense … well, let’s just say it’s not great. The unit gave up 38 points and 513 yards of total offense, including 391 through the air to Hawaii three weeks ago. That included a seven-yard TD pass with 48 seconds left that sealed the win for the Rainbow Warriors. Hawaii WR John Ursa had 272 receiving yards that day. But much like Temple, UMass followed it up the next week by getting torched in a different way — on the ground by Coastal Carolina, to the tune of 321 rushing yards. While the Minutemen were better against ODU last week, they still present a chance for Marchi and the rest of the Temple offense to get rolling. That said, senior linebacker and Towson transfer Bryton Barr is a player to keep an eye on. He leads UMass with 44 tackles on the season and can disrupt plays.
 
History
Friday evening will mark just the second meeting between Temple and UMass, which joined the FBS level in 2011.
 
The Owls took the first meeting, a wild 25-23 victory at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, home of the New England Patriots. On that September day in 2015, the heavily-favored Owls were as flat as could be all afternoon long and were on the verge of getting upset by the Minutemen. That was until a late UMass extra-point attempt was blocked and the Owls returned it for a two-point conversion that cut the Minutemen’s lead to 23-22 with 1:20 left. QB Phillip Walker led the Owls down the field on the ensuing drive and Austin Jones nailed a 32-yard field goal with seven seconds left to give Temple the win.
 
If that late comeback doesn’t take place, who knows what road Temple’s 2015 dream season that included the nationally televised primetime showdown with Notre Dame at the Linc and College Gameday at Independence Mall takes?
 
Storyline to watch: Where’s the improvement in Week 3?
The first two weeks have clearly been a feeling-out process for Collins, a first-year head coach, and his Owls, who are in the midst of replacing a four-year starter at QB and seven starters from a ferocious 2016 defense.
 
As expected, there have been some lumps over the first few weeks. But Friday marks the third game of the new era and, with all due respect to these Minutemen, this UMass team offers a chance for the Owls to take steps in the right direction in many areas. Can Marchi get more comfortable in his new role? Can the rushing game finally get on track? Can the defense begin to form some type of identity?
 
Temple better hope a few questions are answered Friday because there will be no room for error next week …
 
What’s at stake: Momentum before next week’s huge test at South Florida.
Temple needs to get the momentum rolling this week because the sternest test of the season looms ahead — next week at conference favorite No. 22 South Florida.
 
The young Owls can ill-afford to fall flat on their faces Friday against an underwhelming UMass team and then head to Tampa on yet another short week Thursday with the confidence waning.
 
That’s like losing half the battle right there. And facing the Bulls, especially in Tampa, is already hard enough.
 
Prediction
Though the Owls have yet to find their groove in many areas this season, they still have way too much talent for this UMass team to deal with. The Owls should win this one pretty handily.
 
Temple 34, Massachusetts 13

Shizz Alston Jr., Quinton Rose lead Temple over St. Joe's in Big 5 battle

usa-shizz-alston-temple.jpg
USA Today Images

Shizz Alston Jr., Quinton Rose lead Temple over St. Joe's in Big 5 battle

BOX SCORE

With five minutes and 22 seconds left in the first half and Temple trailing St. Joe’s, 26-24, De’Vondre Perry took a three-pointer that hit the back iron and missed long.

Out of nowhere, Quinton Rose streaked down the center of the free throw lane, leaped above everyone on the floor, corralled the offensive rebound and completed the two-handed slam to tie the game, prompting an eruption from the Liacouras Center crowd.

“That’s just how [Quinton] plays,” Shizz Alston Jr. said. “When guys start jawing at him he just turns it up a notch. I think some of their players were talking to him and he just got juiced up off of that.”

The play energized the Owls after a slow start, highlighting a 17-3 run to end the half and leading to an 81-78 Temple victory (see observations). Alston Jr. led all scorers with 20 points, including five three-pointers, and Rose added a 15 point, 11 rebound double-double for the squad.

At the start of the game, St. Joe’s came out hot, hitting on three of their first five three-point attempts and jumping out to a 17-8 lead early in the game. After a Fran Dunphy timeout with just less than 13 minutes left in the half, the Owls seemed to tighten up defensively.

“He just told us we had to pick it up,” Rose said. “It’s simple as that.

"I think we had a lack of communication and the biggest thing is we don’t finish our possessions with rebounds. We give up a lot of second-chance points. We just have to straighten that up and I think we’ll be good.”

Obi Enechionyia and Rose came up with big blocks and Temple started forcing turnovers. This helped the offense get going, in particular, Alston, whose 15 first-half points kept Temple in the ball game despite the hot shooting start by St. Joe's.

Perry, a true freshman, provided a spark off the bench for the Owls, contributing nine points in the first half, including two threes and a tough finish at the rim.

“He showed a lot of toughness,” Rose said. “I mean he’s young, but he showed a lot of toughness on the defensive end and rebounding. He made some big shots for us too.”

Perry attributed a lot of the open looks he got to his teammates.

“My teammates opened it up for me,” Perry said. “Either driving or kicking or just doing what they do best by penetrating and giving me the ball.”

Temple’s star big man, Enechionyia, struggled throughout the game, going 1 for 8 from the field and finishing with four points while being limited to 23 minutes because of foul trouble. Center Ernest Aflakpui came up big in his absence, putting up 12 points on 5 for 6 from the field and adding six rebounds.

“If we can count on a dozen points from Ern every game, that would be spectacular,” Dunphy said. “It’s obviously not his forte, but he did a terrific job. I thought he was poised at the rim and didn’t rush himself.”

In the last five minutes, the Hawks rallied from 16 down and cut the lead to four, but five clutch free throws from fifth-year senior guard Josh Brown sealed Temple’s first Big 5 and Atlantic-10 win of the year.

“I thought Josh Brown saved us at the foul line,” head coach Fran Dunphy said. “I thought he played great again. He played great against Wisconsin and played great again. I’m very, very proud of him.”

The Owls, now 6-2 on the season, will host the No. 4-ranked Villanova Wildcats, who could jump to No. 1 in the country after Duke’s loss Saturday, in another Big 5 showdown this Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.

“It’s a really big opportunity,” Rose said. “I hope they are No. 1 so we can knock them off.”

Temple-St. Joe's observations: Owls hold off late rally

uspresswire-temple-fran-dunphy.jpg
USA Today Images

Temple-St. Joe's observations: Owls hold off late rally

BOX SCORE

Temple on Saturday afternoon nabbed its first win against a Big 5 team and an Atlantic 10 team with an 81-78 victory over St. Joe’s at the Liacouras Center.

With five clutch free throws from fifth-year senior guard Josh Brown, the Owls held off a late rally by the Hawks. Shizz Alston Jr. led the Owls with 20 points and four rebounds, while Quinton Rose added a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.

Temple moves to 6-2 on the season with the victory.

• St. Joe’s was on fire early on, making three of its first five three-point attempts, en route to a 17-8 lead just over seven minutes into the game.

• After a Fran Dunphy timeout with 12:44 left in the first half, Temple turned up its effort on defense. Big blocks by Rose and Obi Enechionyia allowed Temple to take the lead, 18-17, with 9:30 left in the half. The Owls forced a total of eight turnovers in the first half.

• Alston, Jr. dominated the first half and really kept the Owls in the game during St. Joe’s early run. He went 5 for 8 from the field in the first half, including 4 of 5 from three-point range, for 15 points. The junior guard has developed tremendously since last season, coming into this contest averaging 16.9 points, which is up from 13.9 points per game last year in his sophomore campaign.

• Enechionyia struggled in the first half, going 1 for 6 from the field in 17 minutes of action. He missed multiple fadeaway jumpers on the baseline and didn’t make an impact in the post. He also picked up his third foul less than a minute into the second half and had to go to the bench. The senior power forward finished the afternoon with just four points and six rebounds.

• Junior center Ernest Aflakpui filled in tremendously with Enechionyia on the bench. He scored 12 points while shooting 83 percent from the field, added six rebounds and disrupted shots around the rim.

• De’Vondre Perry also played a big role for Temple, putting up nine points, 6.9 points more than his season average, in 21 minutes of action, which is up from his season average of 12.3 minutes per game. The true freshman did it in a variety of ways as well, driving and finishing at the basket, drawing fouls and adding two three-pointers. Perry was the only freshman to play in the game.

• Rose displayed his incredible athleticism with multiple big plays in the first half. The sophomore guard slashed through the lane and made a contested layup to put Temple up 18-17, and then followed a Perry missed three-pointer with a put-back dunk that caused the crowd to erupt. He also missed a few layups during the game, showing he still can refine his touch around the basket, but finished the game with 15 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

• The student section was involved throughout the game, bringing out big-head posters during opponents’ free throws, making noise after airballs and erupting after multiple big Rose dunks. In Temple’s second Big 5 game of the year, the Owls fans needed to out-do the St. Joe’s fans who traveled to North Philly, and they certainly did.

• The win marks Temple’s first Big 5 victory of the year, almost two weeks after its 87-83 road loss to La Salle. It was a physical matchup that seemed like it would get chippy. Rose got into a St. Joe’s player’s face after a layup in the first half. Enechionyia was elbowed in the face while going up for a rebound at the end of the first half. Temple was the more physical, scrappy team Saturday, but will need to be better this Wednesday against another Big 5 team, No. 4 Villanova.

The Hawks return to action next Sunday when they host Maine.