Temple University football (1-3, 1-3 The American Athletic Conference) returns home after two straight losses on the road to play against Southern Methodist (6-1, 3-1 The American) at noon on Saturday.
Here are three key matchups for fans to watch.
Temple’s quarterbacks vs Southern Methodist’s quarterbacks
The Owls’ will be without starting quarterback graduate student Anthony Russo for a second straight week due to a shoulder injury, meaning redshirt-sophomore quarterbacks Trad Beatty and Re-al Mitchell will both play against the Mustangs.
Both Beatty and Mitchell struggled in their first game action of the season last week against Tulane (3-4, 1-4 The American).
Against the Green Wave, Beatty completed 11-of-18 passes for 122 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. Mitchell completed five-of-eight passes for 23 yards, zero touchdowns and no interceptions. He also recorded a team-leading 37 rushing yards.
“[I’m] coming into this week having a little more experience than I did the week prior, so I’m just trying to build off the film from last week, move forward, and do what I can for the team,” Beatty said.
Beatty will start against the Mustangs, but the team will rotate Mitchell into the game every other drive, head coach Rod Carey said.
Mustangs’ junior quarterback Shane Buechele has recorded 2,226 yards, 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions through seven games.
Buechele ranks second in The American with a passer efficiency rating of 160.2 and third in passing yards per game with a total of 318.0.
Carey believes SMU is one of the better teams Temple will play this season, he said.
“Shane Buechele, the quarterback, makes the entire thing go,” Carey said.
When Temple played the Mustangs last season, Buechele recorded 457 passing yards and six passing touchdowns with just one interception, helping the Mustangs to a 45-21 win.
Temple’s running backs vs Southern Methodist’s linebackers
The Owls’ starting running back and leading rusher this season, sophomore Re’Mahn Davis, announced he was opting out of the 2020 season and entering the transfer portal on Wednesday, The Temple News reported.
Temple will likely start redshirt-senior running back Tayvon Ruley in Davis’ place against the Mustangs. Ruley has recorded 21 carries, 102 yards and no touchdowns while averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
“Our problem in the running back room right now is that we second guess a lot,” Ruley said.
Ruley believes the running backs will improve their decisiveness because they emphasized it a lot in practice this week, he said.
Redshirt-freshman running back Edward Saydee could see playing time on Saturday. He’s carried the ball four times for 15 yards this season.
The Mustangs’ use a three linebacker defensive scheme similar to Temple’s. Both teams have two linebackers in the middle of the field and one linebacker who plays over the slot.
Temple calls the slot position “BUBO,” while the Mustangs call it “FOX.”
The Mustangs’ leading tacklers are linebackers junior Delano Robinson and senior Richard McBryde with 53 and 38 tackles, respectively. Robinson and McBryde are tied for the team lead in sacks with three.
Temple’s cornerbacks vs Southern Methodist’s wide receivers
The Owls’ pass defense is only allowing teams to throw for 190.5 yards per game, which ranks second in The American this season.
Redshirt-junior cornerback Christian Braswell and graduate student Freddie Johnson started against Tulane last week.
Braswell has recorded 14 total tackles, one interception and pass breakup this season while Johnson has recorded 13 total tackles and one pass breakup this season.
The Owls’ will rely on redshirt-sophomore safety Chauncey Moore to play the slot cornerback position against the Mustangs, Moore said.
“It wasn’t really a big change,” Moore added. “Safety or corner, you are really doing the same things. You are guarding a man or you are playing a zone.”
Moore recorded three tackles in his first game of the season against Tulane.
The Mustangs’ leading receiver is freshman Rashee Rice, who has 521 yards and four touchdowns this season.
The Mustangs will be without junior wide receiver Reggie Roberson Jr., who suffered a knee injury on Oct. 3, ESPN reported.
In last year’s game, Roberson recorded eight catches, 250 yards and three touchdowns. Before his injury, Roberson recorded 22 catches, 474 yards and five touchdowns.
Junior wide receiver Danny Gray is getting a lot of Roberson’s targets on offense. He’s recorded 23 catches, 342 yards and four touchdowns this season.