Jousting the Black Knights

The football team may be seeing double vision this weekend as it travels to West Point, N.Y., to take on Army. Temple and Army have similar aspects of one another’s teams, and on Saturday, both will match up for the Black Knights’ homecoming game.

Army is coming off a solid 35-21 road victory over Duke that had its defense total five turnovers. Three interceptions and two forced fumbles have people talking about Army’s possible future in the bowl season. Army’s defense preys on opposing teams’ mistakes. That’s one thing Temple’s offense will have to deal with.

Coach Al Golden will most likely be without sophomore running back Bernard Pierce, which would leave the majority of the heavy workload to sophomore running back Matt Brown. Redshirt-junior quarterback Chester Stewart threw his first three interceptions of the year against No. 23 Penn State and still has not figured out how to deal with pressure in the pocket. He was sacked again twice on Saturday, which also leads to questions about the offensive line.

Stewart is still learning on the fly, but he has shown improvements throughout his first full season as the true starter.

The real question now is whether Golden will open up the playbook and start throwing the ball more. Temple wideouts senior Mike Campbell and junior Rod Streater were non-existent on the score sheet against the Nittany Lions, while junior Joe Jones had three receptions for 27 yards. Redshirt-junior tight end Evan Rodriguez had two catches as well on swing passes, which are a majority of the passes Temple uses. If Temple could figure out how to get these four open, the team would have a shot at breaking Army’s win streak.

In addition, the Owls will need to figure out how to get Stewart to throw down the field. Stewart has had trouble with the long ball, and he tends to overthrow his targets.

Much like Temple, Army is predominantly a run-heavy team. In Army’s latest win, sophomore quarterback Trent Steelman threw the ball only six times. Of his four completed passes, two of them were for long touchdowns. Steelman also led the team in rushing with 18 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown. Army sophomore slot back Malcolm Brown had nine carries for 46 yards, while sophomore slot receiver Brian Cobbs also had two short rushing touchdowns, so there is no doubt Army can score.

This makes for a great matchup against Temple’s red-zone defense, which held the Nittany Lions to five field goals and kept them out of the end zone until the fourth quarter.

The Owls’ defense showed improvement from its last few outings, but the run defense is still a work in progress. Army had eight different people rush for yardage, including six of them for more than 20 yards. If Temple wants to keep up its bowl-pace play, the team will need to turn to senior linebacker Elijah “Peanut” Joseph and junior linebacker Tahir Whitehead to stuff the run. Whitehead finished the game against PSU with nine tackles and “Peanut’s” twin brother, senior defensive lineman Elisha Joseph, doubled his career-high game total with 10 takedowns.

Kickoff in West Point is at noon. The game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports.

-Christian Audesirk

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