Temple University football’s season is a disaster.
With their 25-point loss to Central Florida (5-2, 4-2 The American Athletic Conference) on Saturday night, the Owls (1-5, 1-5 The American) secured their first losing season since 2013 when they finished 2-10.
“We dug ourselves a hole we didn’t have the firepower to get ourselves out of,” said head coach Rod Carey after the game against the Knights.
Temple has valid excuses for their poor play. They’ve missed a number of key offensive players to both COVID-19 protocols and injury, but at the end of the day the only thing that will be remembered is the Owls’ disappointing record caused by factors both outside and inside of their control.
Graduate student quarterback Anthony Russo missed Saturday’s game due to COVID-19 protocols and missed two games due to a shoulder injury this season. Before he got hurt, Russo had recorded 868 passing yards and nine touchdowns.
Russo also threw six interceptions, which cost the Owls games early in the season, but at least he gave them a chance to win. With Russo starting, Temple’s offense averaged 32.33 points per game.
Since redshirt-sophomores Re-al Mitchell and Trad Beatty took over starting with the Tulane game, the offense is only averaging 13 points per game.
Beatty missed Saturday’s game with an injury, but Mitchell struggled mightily. He threw for 107 yards while also throwing two interceptions.
After some positive signs in their game against Southern Methodist, Mitchell never looked comfortable against the Knights.
The game looked like it was moving too fast for him. He wasn’t feeling and reacting to pressure well enough, and he missed easy throws to open receivers at times.
There’s a reason Mitchell isn’t the starter in the first place, but injuries happen in a normal season and players need to be prepared to step up. Right now, it doesn’t look like he’s been prepared.
Mitchell is in a tough spot because of the injuries to players charged with protecting him.
Backup redshirt-freshman offensive lineman David Nwaogwugwu started at right tackle on Saturday and redshirt-freshman Wisdom Quarshie had to come into the game after an injury to senior offensive lineman Joseph Hooper.
Predictably, the offensive line struggled with the new players. They were unable to generate movement in the running game and struggled to keep Mitchell clean in the pocket leading to him taking some big hits.
“They are out there giving their best effort and that’s all you can really ask for,” Mitchell said. “We are all on the same page as far as trying to put points on the board and that’s what we tried to do.”
The Owls were dealt another injury blow on Monday when Carey announced Mitchell is out for the season with an undisclosed injury and Russo would not be available to play until at least Nov. 23 due to COVID-19 protocols.
Freshman quarterback Matt Duncan will start his first game ever this week at home against East Carolina (1-6, 1-5 The American).
Despite the injuries, poor quarterback play and shuffling of the offensive line, the Owls’ best chance to end their losing streak is against the Pirates.
The Pirates’ scoring defense ranks last in The American, as they are allowing teams to score 39.7 points per game this season, and they rank 10th in total defense while giving up 486.7 yards per game.
However, even if Duncan plays well and the Owls beat the Pirates, it won’t save Temple from their disappointing season.
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