After their first win of the season last week at home against South Florida, Temple University football looked to notch a second straight victory on the road Saturday against Memphis.
But the Tigers (3-1, 2-1 The American Athletic Conference) and their high-octane offense were too much to handle for the Owls (1-2, 1-2 The American), who made too many game-changing errors on offense to keep up, resulting in them losing 41-29.
“Just too many mistakes, it’s that plain and simple,” said Temple head football coach Rod Carey. “We’ve got to get back to work and clean that up.”
The ultimate cause of the Owls’ failures on offense was turnovers, of which they had four throughout the game.
Protecting the ball and avoiding turnovers has been a focus for Temple graduate student quarterback Anthony Russo and the Owls’ offense, The Temple News reported. But Russo threw three interceptions and sophomore running back Re’Mahn Davis fumbled the ball once in the third quarter.
Davis believed the officials were mistaken when they ruled he fumbled the ball before he went down.
“I thought that was bogus, honestly,” Davis said.
While Russo’s three interceptions were a season-high, his performance was better than the numbers would indicate, Carey said.
The Owls offense totaled 500 yards including 387 passing yards and 113 rushing yards.
On his second interception early in the third quarter, Russo threw a pass intended for redshirt-junior wide receiver Jadan Blue that Blue wasn’t able to catch up to after he stopped running his route.
“That’s not [Russo’s] fault,” Blue said. “I should have kept running on that.”
Despite Russo’s interceptions, there is no doubt in the locker room that he can be the leader the Owls need him to be, Davis said.
“We’ve got great receivers and we’ve got to get them the ball in the red zone,” Davis added. “Anthony Russo can do that and he has done it in the past.”
Russo’s fault or not, the turnovers presented too significant an obstacle for the Owls to overcome.
“We’ve got to take care of the ball better,” Carey said. “You can’t win if you turn the ball over four times.”
Russo is frustrated about the avoidable mistakes he’s made so far this season, he said.
“We’re ticked off that we keep hurting ourselves,” Russo said. “As good as we have been playing, we would be 3-0 right now if not for those mistakes. We’re beating ourselves with turnovers and penalties.”
Despite the Owls having a productive offense, they feel as if they continued to miss opportunities to take “the next step” as a unit, Blue said.
“It really sucks when you know you’re leaving points off the field,” Blue added.
Carey’s players are frustrated, and he is aware of it, he said.
“It’s very disappointing, and I think the kids are feeling that too,” Carey added.
Temple’s next contest is on the road against the Tulane Green Wave (2-3, 0-3 The American) on Oct. 31.