Despite loss, shorthanded Temple offense improves in SMU match

The Owls scored 23 points despite missing their starting quarterback and running back on Saturday.

Redshirt-senior running back Tayvon Ruley carries the ball during the Owls' game against Southern Methodist University at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 7. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

In the first half, Rod Carey’s depleted offensive core looked better than it had in previous weeks against tough American Athletic Conference teams, the Owls built solid drives down the field and scored 13 points in three possessions.

But the offense struggled in the second half, answering SMU’s 37 point half with only 10 points of their own.

The Owls (1-4, 1-4 American Athletic Conference) lost 47-23 to the Mustangs (7-1, 4-1 The American). SMU outscored Temple’s offense by 20 points in the fourth quarter and recorded 549 total yards in the game. 

“I thought we had a good plan, but we didn’t execute and it wasn’t enough,” head coach Rod Carey said.

Graduate student starting quarterback Anthony Russo did not play due to a shoulder injury and it is unclear if he will return next week. The Owls were also playing without former starting running back Re’Mahn Davis, who announced on Nov. 4 he will opt-out of the remainder of the 2020 season and enter the transfer portal, The Temple News reported. 

With two key starters out, Carey knew he would have to use different play calls to throw off SMU’s defense while using a two quarterback system, he said. 

Temple’s redshirt-sophomore quarterback Trad Beatty, who threw for 129 passing yards and his first touchdown of the season, started for the majority of the game until he got hurt in the first half. Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Re-al Mitchell played out the remainder of the game.

Mitchell finished the game with 103 passing yards, one passing touchdown and 66 rushing yards. Neither Mitchell or Beatty threw an interception in the game. 

Down by 10 in the fourth quarter, the Owls attempted to convert on fourth and one with a quarterback run to the left by Mitchell, but he got stuffed at the line and didn’t gain any yards, giving SMU the ball at the Temple 34-yard line. 

“We had some opportunities where we were able to convert on third down, but we couldn’t capitalize on the touchdown,” Mitchell said. “As an offense, we have to do better and be more consistent when it comes to stuff like that.” 

SMU’s defense kept tight coverage on the receivers and the Mustangs were able to block out opportunities for the Owls to score. Graduate student receiver Randle Jones caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Beatty and was the only receiver to score a touchdown against the Mustangs defense. 

Jones got hurt in the first quarter and was sidelined for the remainder of the game after he took a big hit on a potential bubble screen. 

It is not confirmed if Beatty or Jones will play in the game against the Knights, but as of now they are out due to injuries from the SMU game, Carey said. 

With multiple injuries and changes made to the line up, redshirt-senior running back Tayvon Ruley, who had 66 rushing yards, scored his first touchdown of the season on a three-yard run into the endzone.

“I knew I was ready, it was just getting that chance, and I think I had a solid game, but I could always do better,” Ruley said. 

As Temple’s offense prepares for their next game on the road against the University of Central Florida (4-2, 3-2 The American), they’ll have to possess the ball longer and continue to improve red zone scoring to have a shot at winning.

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