What to watch out for ahead of Temple football vs. SMU

The Owls will go for their third straight conference victory on Saturday on the road against Southern Methodist University.

Temple University football coach Rod Carey watches his team at Geasey Field on Aug. 13, 2019. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / FILE PHOTO

Temple University football (5-1, 2-0 The American Athletic Conference) plays Southern Methodist University (6-0, 2-0 The AAC) on the road at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. 

Here are three key matchups for Temple fans to watch. 

The Mustangs’ quarterback and the Owls’ secondary 

The Mustangs offense averages 291.83 passing yards per game, which is the second-highest in The American. The Owls’ passing defense is allowing 199.50 passing yards per game so far this season. 

The Mustangs passing offense is led by junior quarterback Shane Buechele, who transferred from the University of Texas to SMU this season. 

Buechele leads The American with 1,665 passing yards and has 12 touchdown passes this season. 

“There isn’t a throw [Buechele] can’t make,” Temple coach Rod Carey said. “He’s a better runner than you think. He’s a really good quarterback.” 

Buechele will be the best quarterback the Owls have played this season, graduate defensive lineman Zack Mesday said. 

“If [Buechele] has open receivers he’s going to hit them every time,” Mesday said. “You can’t really give him that much time in the pocket because if you do he’s gonna complete the pass.”

Temple junior cornerback Harrison Hand, who will be tasked with stopping Buchele, is tied for third in The American with two interceptions this season. Against Memphis, Hand recorded one interception and two forced fumbles. 

The Mustangs’ wide receivers and the Owls’ wide receivers 

Both Temple and the Mustangs have two receivers ranked inside the top six for total receiving yards in The American. 

Temple redshirt-sophomore receiver Jadan Blue ranks fourth with 479 yards and redshirt-junior receiver Branden Mack is ranked sixth with 460 yards. 

Mustangs junior receiver Reggie Robinson Jr. ranks second with 545 yards and senior receiver James Proche ranks third with 529 yards. 

“I have all the confidence in our receivers,” redshirt-junior quarterback Anthony Russo said. “They have shown week in and week out going up against some of the best defensive backs we’ve played that they can go up and get the ball.” 

The Owls have an advantage when it comes to each team’s third highest-rated receiver. 

Temple senior receiver Isaiah Wright is third on Temple with 361 total yards, while the Mustangs third highest-rated receiver, junior tight end Kylen Granson, only has 229 total yards this season. 

The Mustangs’ defensive line and the Owls’ offensive line 

The Mustangs have pressured opposing quarterbacks often this season. 

The Mustangs rank first in The American in sacks with 26. The next closest team is the University of South Florida with 19. 

Temple’s offensive line has done a good job preventing sacks so far this season, allowing seven total sacks.

The Owls believe they can take advantage of the Mustangs’ defensive line with the run game, Russo said. 

The Owls currently average 165.7 rushing yards per game while the Mustangs defense is currently allowing just 127.8 rushing yards per game. 

“[SMU has] a quarterback that’s been lights out and has a lot of skill around him,” Carey said. “[SMU] has a defensive line that is working hard, and a defense that is running around and pursuing the ball. [SMU] is certainly challenging you and making you earn every inch.”

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