Army football

Matt Rhule wants Temple to feel 'hurt' after disappointing opening loss to Army

Matt Rhule wants Temple to feel 'hurt' after disappointing opening loss to Army

BOX SCORE

With all of the controversy currently surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem, it was easy to notice when Matt Rhule pulled his team over to Army’s side of the field after Friday’s game to join the Black Knights as they sang their alma mater.

While Rhule admitted the move was something he always does when playing service academies, there was another motive behind the Temple head coach’s decision.

“To be quite honest, I wanted our team to see it,” Rhule said. “I’m hurt right now and I want it to hurt tonight.”

Oh, the Owls are hurting all right. Temple was grinded for 329 yards rushing and quarterback Phillip Walker threw three interceptions in a 28-13 season-opening loss to Army at Lincoln Financial Field (see Instant Replay).

The Owls (0-1) have now lost three straight games dating back to last season and followed up the historic 2015 campaign by opening the new year with a major misstep against an Army team that managed just two wins a season ago.

“Being 0-1 is never good. Losing a football game is never good,” Temple linebacker Avery Williams said. “Losing is never an option around me. I hate losing. It kills me, it eats me up inside. I want everybody to feel like that. I want us to feel this loss, man. I don’t want nobody out partying tonight. I don’t want no social media. I just want people to feel this loss, understand what losing feels like.

“We’re 0-3 right now. We’ve lost a conference championship, a bowl game and today. We’re 0-3. It’s never good losing. It hurts and I want it to hurt. I want it to hurt for the rest of the season.”

The Owls could be in store for much more pain as the season goes on if they don’t get their once ferocious defense in order. The unit looked every bit like a group trying to replace the playmaking and leadership of three players — Tyler Matakevich, Matt Ioannidis and Tavon Young — who departed for the NFL.

Temple had no answers for Army’s signature triple option, which helped the Black Knights (1-0) win the time of possession battle 35:48 to 24:12 and run 18 more plays than the Owls. Army running back Andy Davidson had 121 yards and two touchdowns as the team used eight different ball carriers to outgain the Owls by 246 yards on the ground.

“I think in practice we did a pretty good job of executing. Our scout team gave a pretty good look,” defensive lineman Averee Robinson said. “It’s a lot different in a game, it’s a lot quicker in a game. We just didn’t go out there and execute, which we should have. I fully believe we were prepared to but we just didn’t come to play.”

“They just dominated us,” Rhule said. “It wasn’t like, hey, this guy has it and he doesn’t have it. They literally just knocked us off the ball. Credit to them, credit to coach [Jeff] Monken. They physically dominated the line of scrimmage. … It wasn’t really like assignment football. They weren’t even running the option half the time. They were just handing the ball on the dive and knocking us off the ball. We weren’t able to knock them back.”

Temple may have been prepared for some defensive struggles early after losing such production on that side of the ball. What the Owls weren’t ready to handle were the struggles of their senior quarterback.

With starting running back Jahad Thomas out for what Rhule said is probably the first of several weeks with a hand injury, Walker failed to carry the load offensively. Sure, he threw for 168 yards to pass Henry Burris as Temple’s all-time leader, but Walker completed just 12 of 26 passes and was sacked four times.

Even when Temple held a 10-7 lead at halftime and when Walker helped bring the Owls within a point at 14-13 with 1:29 remaining in the third quarter, he never seemed to get really comfortable in the pocket.

Trailing by eight points down the stretch, Walker threw two of his three interceptions in the final 3:41 to seal the loss.

“It was just limited on how much we had the ball. It was just kind of hard,” Walker said. “We had to take advantage of our opportunities and make the best of it but we failed to do that.”

Temple is now forced to regroup after dropping just its second season opener in the past seven years in humbling fashion. That shouldn’t be an issue with FCS Stony Brook coming to the Linc next week.

However, the Owls know these issues could linger if they don’t find some real leadership and a true identity.

“I think somewhere along the line we’ve gotten convinced that we’re some team that we’re not,” Rhule said.

“I think we have to just kind of understand who we are. We’re not this team that’s gonna be up by 45 every game at halftime. I have not gotten that across. I can tell you I’ve said it. But, you know what, who cares how many times I’ve said it? I’ve got to say it some more times. I think some other players said it today for the first time, and I hope that our team will regain that focus.”

Instant Replay: Army 28, Temple 13

Instant Replay: Army 28, Temple 13

BOX SCORE

Personal records are nice.

Team achievements matter a whole lot more, especially when they are not met against an opponent you’re expected to beat.

Temple quarterback Phillip Walker became the program’s all-time leader in passing yards, but he threw three interceptions and the Owls’ defense was gashed on the ground for 329 yards in a 28-13 season-opening loss to Army at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday night.

Coming off a historic 10-4 season, Temple (0-1) looked every bit of a team trying to replace playmaking and leadership on both sides of the ball (see story).

Army (1-0), who was 2-10 a season ago, used its signature triple option at will to control the time of possession to secure the victory.

Turning point
Temple kicked a field goal with 1:29 remaining in the third quarter to pull within a point at 14-13 and get the Linc crowd back into the game after being mostly silenced by the clock-chewing Army attack.

This was supposed to be the point when the Owls took over and turned things in their favor to pull ahead.

Well, that might have been the thought to everyone except the Black Knights and their fans. Army proceeded to rip off a 14-play, 81-yard drive that was capped off by a 12-yard touchdown run by Tyler Campbell.

Temple still had a chance in the final minutes, but Walker tossed his second interception on a throw into traffic. Army’s Andy Davidson put the exclamation point on the game with a 17-yard TD run two plays later.

Big men on campus
How about the entire Army backfield? The Black Knights had eight different players carry the ball to the tune of 329 yards. Davidson led the team with 121 yards and added two touchdowns. 

Black Knights cornerback Marcus Hyatt snared a deflected pass on the first drive of the game for an interception to put an end to a Temple scoring opportunity. He also added five tackles.

Temple’s Walker was held in check the entire game. The senior finished the night 12 of 26 for 168 yards and three interceptions.

With senior running back Jahad Thomas out with a hand injury, Ryquell Armstead got the start. Armstead had 16 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown in the loss.

Inside the box score
• Army won the time of possession battle 35:48 to 24:12.

• Temple defensive lineman Sharif Finch blocked a punt in the first half. The Owls led the nation last season with five blocked punts.

• Army well surpassed its season average in rushing from a year ago. The Black Knights, who had 329 yards on the ground Friday, ranked 12th in the nation in 2015 with 244.3 yards per game.

• Stephaun Marshall, Tyler Matakevich’s replacement at WILL linebacker, had nine tackles.

• Army had posted a 1-12 mark under head coach Jeff Monken in games the Black Knights trailed at halftime. The Owls led 10-7 at intermission on Friday.

History
Friday’s clash marked the first meeting between the two schools since Temple earned a 33-14 win over Army in 2013. That game was Matt Rhule’s first win as a head coach and Walker’s first win as a starting quarterback.

After Friday’s loss, the Owls now hold a 7-5 mark in the all-time series. They are 12-11 all time against service academies.

Scout’s honor
There were representatives for 10 NFL teams in attendance at Friday’s game. The teams were: Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills.

What’s next?
Temple will try to regroup when it returns to the Linc to host FCS Stony Brook at 1 p.m. next Saturday.

Army faces Rice in its home opener next Saturday at noon.

Temple vs. Army: A tough Week 1 challenge against the triple option

Temple vs. Army: A tough Week 1 challenge against the triple option

Temple (0-0) vs. Army (0-0)
Lincoln Financial Field
Friday, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Temple football is now on the map. Let’s see if it can continue its trend upward.

The Owls kick off another season in South Philadelphia tonight against Army with the hopes of winning their second straight American Athletic Conference East Division title.

Let's take a closer look at the season opener.

Scouting Temple
Senior quarterback Phillip Walker’s quest to become the first Owls signal caller to lead his team to back-to-back bowl games begins Friday night in front of the Temple faithful.

Walker, who should surpass Henry Burris for most passing yards and attempts in program history this season, saw vast improvements in his junior campaign. He cut his interceptions from 15 in his sophomore year to eight, while throwing for 2,972 yards and 19 touchdowns to lead Temple to its second-ever 10-win season.

The one blemish Walker specifically said he wants to improve in his final season on North Broad Street is his completion percentage. Last year, he completed 56.7 percent of his throws. His goal for this season is 65, which would be an enormous jump in one season.

At running back, Jahad Thomas remains the featured back, but the Owls will deploy a rotation involving Ryquell Armstead, Jager Gardner and David Hood. Top wideout Robby Anderson graduated, so Ventell Bryant and Adonis Jennings will fill those shoes.

Defensively, Temple will look much different this season with Tyler Matakevich, Matt Ioannidis and Tavon Young moving on to the NFL. Sean Chandler moves from corner to safety, while Artrel Foster and Nate Hairston start at corner. Freddie Booth-Lloyd and Averee Robinson move into starting roles on the defensive line, while Jarred Alwan starts at MIKE linebacker.

Scouting Army
After nearly leaving West Point, quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw decided to stay and will start against Temple on tonight in the opener.

Bradshaw ran for 468 yards on 130 attempts and five touchdowns in eight games last season, which is of note because of the triple-option offense Army utilizes. The junior quarterback threw the ball just 48 times last season, completing 48 percent of his throws for five touchdowns and two interceptions.

In the running game, Army will rely on sophomores Jordan Ashberry at A-Back and Tyler Campbell at T-Back as well as Andrew Davidson at fullback. In the passing game, there’s not much of a threat outside of Edgar Allen Poe — not the poet.

History
Temple leads the series, 7-4, and enters on a six-game win streak over Army. The Owls’ last victory over Army was also Matt Rhule’s first win as Temple’s head coach, a 33-19 victory over the Black Knights on Oct. 19, 2013, at the Linc.

Storyline to watch: Temple’s starting linebackers
It’s the first time we’ll see Temple’s defense without Matakevich in four years, and it comes against a triple-option offense, a challenge in itself to any traditional defense.

With Stephaun Marshall moving to WILL, the starting linebackers have a bit of a different feel this season. So how will Alwan, Marshall and Avery Williams communicate with each other in their first game of the post-Matakevich era? Can they help TU shut down Army’s option? It’ll be interesting to see what this defense will look like.

What's at stake?
With higher expectations — another 10-win season, for example — losing the season opener to a service academy would put a huge damper on those expectations. Temple welcomes FCS Stony Brook next week, so considering the Owls' first real challenge doesn’t come until Sept. 17 at Penn State, losing either of the first two games would set a bad tone for the rest of the season.

Prediction
Temple 23, Army 14