It took three games for Temple University’s defensive line to dominate, but in Saturday’s 35-14 win against the University of Maryland, they played their best game.
After two tough losses to start the season, Temple’s front seven responded with a performance that included seven sacks and nine tackles, both season highs. They also held Maryland to 132 yards rushing and 63 yards passing, again, season bests.
Graduate student Michael Dogbe had seven tackles on the day, 3.5 of them being for a loss, while also sacking Maryland’s quarterbacks 2.5 times and forcing two fumbles. He was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his performance at Maryland.
“[The award is] a pretty nice accomplishment,” Dogbe said. “I’m just happy they were able to recognize what I did on the field, but like I said, it really was a group performance. We were all able to dominate.”
The Owls only managed two sacks and eight tackles total between their losses to Villanova and the University at Buffalo.
“Michael Dogbe and [redshirt-sophomore] Dan Archibong are the two starting defensive tackles inside all day, they set the tone,” Defensive Coordinator Andrew Thacker said. “I thought they were dominant, talk about them winning their one-on-one battles because they were covered up by guards all day.”
Dogbe says the reason Temple was able to sack the quarterback so many times on Saturday was a result of their “want to” attitude.
“Guys were determined to get to the quarterback, just the relentless effort,” Dogbe said. “The coaches put it upon the D-Line that if you guys get penetration, that if you guys are disruptive, you guys are gonna take over the game.”
Questions regarding injuries on the defensive line surrounded the Owls going into their third game.
Temple redshirt junior defensive end Dana Levine went down with an unknown injury during the game against Villanova that will cost him 4-6 weeks. Redshirt sophomore defensive end Quincy Roche was injured during the Buffalo game, but battled back to play on Saturday. And the Owls had to play senior running back Ryquell Armstead at defensive end in their game versus Buffalo because of injuries at the position.
Thacker said the team was unsure if Roche would play Saturday.
“The kid was unbelievable in warm-ups with his mentality and his willingness to go out there and play through injury,” Thacker said. “He gave us more [plays] than we expected. We expected him just to go in on third-down packages and he ended up playing more snaps than we thought.”
To build on Dogbe’s performance, juniors William Kwenkeu and Karamo Dioubate both recorded one sack, while junior Shaun Bradley had one sack and an interception return for a touchdown. Graduate students Zack Mesday and Jimmy Hogan combined for 1.5 sacks.
Hogan, a former Rutgers University player, found himself in a familiar territory playing a Big-10 opponent down in College Park, Maryland.
“As an overall team, I feel that we all stepped up to what we could do today and we didn’t do anything special,” Hogan said. “We just played Temple Football.”
To take on that momentum going to a conference showdown with Tulsa, redshirt junior linebacker Chapelle Russell said the team will hold itself to a higher standard.
“Just keep going, never settle,” Russell said. “That’s what I always preach, that’s what I always tell the defense, never settle, keep going because this isn’t the best we can be, we could still get better.”