Preview: Keys to Temple vs. North Texas

Temple Football has now lost three straight games, but can this be the weekend the team bounces back?

Temple's offense has had a tough time coming together to start the season, but against UTSA they showed some flashes of potential. | JARED TATZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Despite the score, Temple Football (2-4, 0-2 American Athletic Conference) showed its first signs of life on the offensive end in nearly a month last weekend against UTSA.

The Owls had more creative play calling from offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf. Rather than trying to force the running game, quarterback E.J. Warner threw the ball 65 times and earned the record for the most 400-yard and five-touchdown games in program history. Tight end David Martin-Robinson and walk-on receiver John Adams also added big games as well.

However, the defense could not stop UTSA, and two costly turnovers kept the Roadrunners ahead long enough to steal the 49-34 victory.

“We’re encouraged on this spot over here,” said Temple head coach Stan Drayton. “I know there’s more to pull out of this football team, both coaches and players. We’re on a journey to get that done.”

The Owls now face their next challenge: North Texas (2-3, 0-1 AAC). With each passing week, Temple’s chances at six wins and a bowl appearance further slip, but this can be its opportunity to get back in the win column.

Can the Owls pull it off? Here is everything you need to know ahead of Temple’s road matchup with North Texas, set to kick off at 12 p.m. Saturday.


Temple Football has struggled to run the ball all season. Initially, this presented a problem. The Owls could not stay on schedule, forcing long third downs and making it hard to possess the football for long stretches. 

Saturday, Temple showed it could compete with opponents despite its ground game. Only 70 of the Owls’ 542 yards of total offense were rushing, yet they went 12-20 on third down conversions and 2-4 on fourth downs. They also controlled the time of possession, registering nearly 10 more minutes than the Roadrunners.

Even though he didn’t run the ball well, running back Darvon Hubbard was involved in the passing game. He caught eight receptions for 95 yards, with most catches coming out of the backfield. 

“[Hubbard is] kind of a natural guy that way,” Drayton said. “He understands coverage, can find open gaps for a quarterback to see him. It’s something that we’ve been building since fall camp, and he’s been doing a really good job.”

North Texas has not played well against the rush, but Temple could stray away from the running game after its success through the air last week.


It’s no secret Temple’s defense has dropped off in production. The Owls are toward the bottom of the AAC in total and scoring defense, and rank fifth-to-last in the country in defensive efficiency, referring to how many points opponents score per possession.

A big part of the defense’s struggles has been the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Temple only has seven sacks this season, just one more than North Texas.

“We’re not getting a whole lot of pass rush out of [the defensive line],” Drayton said. “That’s what we’re not seeing that we’d like to see a whole lot more. We have to find ways to create that pass rush in other ways.”

Last year, the Owls had success on defense because they could get to the quarterback. They finished with the most sacks in the AAC, and their total defense, in turn, was middle of the conference. Temple also forced turnovers, which got the offense back on the field quicker.

That has seemed to be the difference, as the Owls have just two turnovers this season. It’s the first four-game stretch where Temple hasn’t had a turnover in program history.

A quick, aggressive start on defense could push the Owls over the top.


North Texas and Temple have faced similar problems this season.

The Mean Green are coming off a three-point loss to Navy last weekend where they gave up 406 yards of total offense. Though Navy historically is a run-heavy team, its 331 yards on the ground is a product of North Texas’ struggles to stop the run. Opponents average nearly 260 yards per game on the ground, on top of almost 225 yards in the air.

This could help a Temple offense that needs to maintain its rhythm. North Texas is a quick team but isn’t as physical as previous opponents, Drayton said. Temple could use its size over the middle of the field to move the ball.

“North Texas is going to bring great team speed,” Drayton said. “We’re going to see some similarities from what they bring to the table systematically on defense. It’s tough to get the ball behind them in that system, and they force you to do some things underneath and run the football.”

On the other side, North Texas is first in the AAC in total offense and second in scoring. Running back Ayo Adeyi is fourth in the AAC with 83.4 rushing yards per game, and receivers Ja’Mori Maclin and Roderic Burns are both in the top 20 in receiving yards per game.

Quarterback Chandler Rogers leads the team in passing yards with 1,112, and his 8-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio does not look promising for Temple’s hopes at recording its first turnover in four games.


Declan Landis, Sports Editor: “Temple needs to take this win on the road. North Texas is one of its better matchups left, and chasing a bowl game at 3-4 is much easier than chasing one at 2-5.”

“I think the Owls match up well enough to slow the Mean Green offense. This will be a shoot out, but if Temple can get to the quarterback and cause some disruption, they will win this game.”

Temple wins 45-42.

Johnny Zawislak, Assistant Sports Editor: “Temple’s defense needs to step up this week in both the pass rush and run defense. If the Owls are able to get to the quarterback, this matchup will be in their favor.”

“I think the Owls will be able to get to the quarterback and come out on top of a high-scoring matchup.”

Temple wins 42-38

Ryan Mack, Assistant Sports Editor: “Temple’s offense showed flashes last week and put up a productive game. If they are able to find the same success against UTSA and the defense plays closer to how they did the first few weeks of the season, I think the Owls come away with a much needed victory.”

Temple wins 49-45.

Jaison Nieves, Sports Social Media Manager: “Temple’s offense looked much better last week and I think they are able to carry that momentum into this matchup against North Texas. I’m expecting a shootout between the two teams, with the Owls able to come out on top.”

Temple wins 35-32.

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