Compared to Syracuse on paper, coach Bobby Wallace thinks the Temple football team matches up pretty well. The Owls and Orange are ranked side-by-side in the Big East in 17 statistical categories, including pass offense and total defense.
The Orange have five wins, while the Owls have only one.
“If you look at all the stats, it seems we’re right with them, whether it’s at the bottom or the top [of the conference],” Wallace said.
“The one statistic that stands out to me, that they’re way ahead of us in, is redzone defense,” he added. “They lead the conference by far in redzone defense, and obviously we’ve struggled lately with redzone offense.”
That does not bode well for the Owls’ quest to end their six-game losing streak tomorrow at Lincoln Financial Field. A victory by visiting Syracuse will make the Orange bowl eligible.
The Owls (1-8,0-4) have out-gained their opponents in three of four Big East games, all of which resulted in losses. It’s still uncertain whether the scoreboard will ever reflect the statistics this season.
“We’re moving the ball extremely well,” Wallace said. “We’ve just got to score the points.”
Syracuse (5-4, 3-1) will be without the services of running back Walter Reyes, the second-leading rusher in the Big East. The senior was seeking his third consecutive 1,000 yard season, but will now likely fall short. Reyes, who injured his shoulder last week against Pitt, has 800 yards this season.
Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni was honest about the hole that will be left in the offensive backfield.
“Walter being out really hurts us,” Pasqualoni said. “When you lose a guy like that, you’re not just losing a runner, you’re losing one of your leaders as well.”
Syracuse still boasts a solid back in junior Damien Rhodes, who has 617 yards this season. Wallace does not expect Reyes’ absence to affect the Orange’s gameplan.
“With Reyes out, I still think they’ll be a running football team,” he said.
“We’re both running teams, primarily, that have trouble stopping teams from scoring,” he added. “If you look at the stats, it should be a close game. The big difference is, they’ve found ways to win games.”
Quarterback Walter Washington will chase a number of milestones in the final two weeks of the season. With 323 yards of total offense last week, Washington moved within 152 yards of Henry Burris’ school record for total yardage in a single season.
Despite Washington’s accomplishments, the offense has struggled to score this year due to inconsistency in the kicking game. The Owls will start redshirt freshman Danny Murphy tomorrow in place of regular kicker Ryan Lux.
Lux is just 6-for-13 in field goal attempts this year. Murphy attempted a 34-yard field goal last week against West Virginia, but missed wide right.
“If we were talking 40-yard or more field goals, it’d be a different story,” Wallace said. “But we’re talking kicks from the 12-yard line.”
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.