Owls’ quarterbacks struggle in season opener

Temple University football’s offense will look to remedy unforced errors after Rutgers University tallied 21 points off of the Owls’ five turnovers.

Temple's football team lines up for a play during an Owl's game against Southern Methodist University on Nov. 7, 2020. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / FILE

Saturday afternoon’s game ended with a tough 61-14 loss for Temple University football against Rutgers University (1-0, 0-0 The Big Ten Conference). With the 47-point deficit, the largest since 2006, it’s clear the offense struggled to find the endzone.

The Owls(0-1, 0-0 The American Athletic Conference) turned the ball over five times throughout the game and finished with just 261 total yards, compared to Rutgers’ 365 total yards.

“There’s just not anything positive out of that, in all three phases, that was bad so we have to get back to work and fix it,” said head coach Rod Carey. “We have a young team. We have to know that that’s not okay. Getting beat that much to that little is not okay.”

In light of the defeat, Temple’s quarterbacks, including redshirt-freshman D’Wan Mathis and freshman Justin Lynch, should prepare to read the field quicker and spend less time sitting in the pocket before hitting the road to take on the University of Akron (0-1, 0-0 Mid-American Conference) on Sept. 11.  

Mathis, who suffered a leg injury early in the third quarter on Saturday after scoring a rushing touchdown, and Lynch each threw an interception and the offense had three fumbles, which cost the team 21 points.

Carey does not know the extent of Mathis’ injury after the game, he said.

On the Owls’ first drive, Rutgers’ senior linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi sacked Mathis in the endzone for a safety, giving the Scarlet Knights a 2-0 lead — not a strong start for the Owls’ offense. 

Mathis, who recorded 148 passing yards, continued to struggle well into the third drive and had no time to get the ball out before being met by Rutgers’ defenders. He was sacked three times, fumbled once and recorded 17 incomplete passes.

“I thought [Mathis] played well,” said junior offensive lineman Adam Klein. “I thought he came in there with good leadership, head on high, and he played well. It comes down to all of us, it’s not just one guy getting started or anything like that.”

Lynch, who recorded no passing yards, replaced Mathis during the Owls’ third drive of the third quarter. On his first pass attempt, Lynch missed his intended target and Rutgers’ freshman defensive back Max Melton got a pick-six for a 46-yard touchdown.

Lynch also fumbled with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter after being hit hard on a 22-yard run.

Moving forward, it’s unclear if Lynch will continue as starting quarterback with Mathis’ injury. If so, the offense must work closely with Lynch to develop chemistry and adjust to his playing style.

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