Temple (1-5, 0-1) vs. Miami (6-0, 2-0) at Orange Bowl Stadium, 12:05 p.m.
Temple is hurting all over. Poor performances by the linebackers, not enough discipline in the secondary and a lack of chemistry on the offensive unit has the Owls in a rut. The No. 2 Hurricanes are exactly what Temple does not need this week. Granted, it has kept recent games against Miami somewhat competitive, but that was when the Owls had defensive stoppers Raheem Brock and Dan Klecko. Now they have inexperience. Sure, the Hurricanes have had some injuries to key players, but they don’t fret. Nor do they take a step backwards. All they do is plug in another former high school All-American and keep inching closer to the Bowl Championship Series, a place the Owls can only dream about.
3 Keys to the game for Temple:
Keep up the solid kick/punt returns. This is one area where the Owls continue to thrive. Last week against Boston College, the Owls racked up 174 return yards. Running backs Jamil Porter and Makonnen Fenton continue to give the offense good field position, but this week could be a different story. Miami has scored eight non-offensive touchdowns this season.
Convert third downs. Throwing the long ball in these situations won’t get the Owls anywhere. Miami has allowed only 15 plays of 40 yards or more this season and have been relying on a zone defense in these situations and opponents have moved the chains only twice in 22 chances when facing third-and-long. Temple is 26-of-95 on third-down.
Spread the wealth. Temple’s offense went to Fenton on 24 of its 74 plays, but that was because its receivers were dropping too many balls. That must change. The Owls have three durable backs and an array of pass-catchers. If everyone is on the same page this week, coach Bobby Wallace will be able to switch up his play-calling.
3 Match-ups to watch
Temple’s pass game vs. Miami’s passing defense. Regardless of the predictable outcome, this is what we’ve all been waiting for: The Big East’s best passing attack against the conference’s top pass defense. Quarterbacks Mike McGann and Walter Washington have aided the offense to 274.2 passing yards per game, while the Hurricanes have given up a mere 186.67 yards per game in the air. Miami free safety Sean Taylor has been a force in the secondary, snagging six interceptions and making 35 tackles. Owls’ wide receiver Zamir Cobb is 17th in the nation in receiving yards per game with 96.7.
Temple’s offensive line vs. Miami’s defensive line. If the Owls are to have any luck with the passing game, or the running game for that matter, they need their o-line to step up big. Temple quarterbacks have been sacked 17 times for 107 yards. Miami loves to rush the passer. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and defensive end Baraka Atkins have been plowing through offensive lines. Wilfork has made four tackles for a loss and has four sacks. Atkins, a redshirt freshman, also has four sacks along with 20 tackles, eight quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.
Miami QB Brock Berlin vs. Temple’s secondary. Berlin can be a bit erratic. He’s thrown ten interceptions this season and Temple’s 4-2-5 defensive alignment could fluster the transfer quarterback. Temple’s defensive backs have five picks, but have yet to line up against upper echelon receivers like tight end Kellen Winslow, receivers Kevin Beard, Ryan Moore and Roscoe Parrish, whom have combined for 81 catches. Temple must stay on its toes and recognize routes after getting beat by the speedy Boston College receivers last week.
Chris Silva can be reached at email@example.com.