After losing their second game of the season last week, Temple University football (1-2, 1-2 The American Athletic Conference) will try to get back on track against Tulane (2-4, 0-4 The American) on the road Saturday.
Here are three key matchups for fans to watch.
Temple’s offensive line vs Tulane’s defensive line
The Owls’ offensive line is keeping pressure away from graduate student quarterback Anthony Russo. Opponents have only recorded four sacks against Temple this season totaling just 23 lost yards.
Temple’s offensive line is playing well despite the absence of junior offensive guard Adam Klein. Klein opened the season as a starter but did not play in the Owls’ last two games against South Florida and Memphis.
The Green Wave’s defensive line will be Temple’s biggest challenge yet. Senior defensive end Patrick Johnson leads the team and The American with six sacks and has 7.5 tackles for loss after six games.
Temple redshirt-sophomore tight end Aaron Jarman will serve as an extra blocker against Johnson, he said.
“They have a really strong defensive line,” Jarman added. “They are a good defense. Their two defensive ends, who I’ll be blocking mostly, are very good players. It’ll be a good challenge for us offensively.”
Senior defensive end Cameron Sample is second on the team with four sacks and third in tackles for loss with 6.5. As a team, the Green Wave have recorded 19 total sacks this season, which ranks first in The American.
Temple’s Receivers vs Tulane’s Secondary
Redshirt-junior receiver Jadan Blue and graduate student receiver Randle Jones rank second and third in The American with nine and eight receptions per game, respectively.
In total, Blue has recorded 27 catches, 220 yards and five touchdowns this season while Jones has 24 catches, 247 yards and one touchdown. Graduate student Branden Mack is third on the team with 16 catches but second on the team in touchdowns with three.
The Green Wave’s pass defense ranks tenth in The American and are allowing a total of 326.8 passing yards per game. They rank last in passing defense efficiency.
Tulane has allowed teams to score 14 passing touchdowns while giving up 9.8 yards per passing attempt.
Junior safety Clark Macon leads the team with two interceptions, but senior cornerback Jaylen Monroe leads the team with four pass breakups.
Temple’s defensive line vs Tulane’s quarterback
The Owls’ defensive line is off to a slow start this season, recording just five total sacks for a total of 32 lost yards in three games. Redshirt-junior defensive end Arnold Ebikete leads the team with four tackles for loss and is tied for first in sacks with one.
Temple came into the season expecting to rely on redshirt-junior defensive tackle Ifeanyi Maijeh, but he’s only recorded eight total tackles, one forced fumble and no other stats this season.
Maijeh feels he’s improved his play in each of Temple’s games this season, he said.
“Slow start, just came to like, getting in the groove of things,” Maijeh added. “The first game we played against Navy, that isn’t really a game for stats it’s more of a game for doing your job. I feel like as I’m getting more comfortable playing the defense things click back together.”
Tulane freshman quarterback Michael Pratt is playing at a high level this season despite his inexperience, and he took the starting job from redshirt senior quarterback Keon Howard after their game against Navy on Sept. 19.
In just four games, Pratt has recorded 670 yards, seven touchdown passes and just two interceptions. His passer rating is 126.87 compared to Howard’s 82.66 passer rating.
“Pratt] is really good,” Carey said. “It seems like with every game rep the ball is getting delivered on time and accurately. I think he’s made a difference for them.”
Temple Injury Report:
Graduate student quarterback Anthony Russo received an MRI on his right shoulder on Monday, did not practice this week, and his playing will be a game time decision on Saturday, a team spokesperson said.
Redshirt-sophomore tight end David Martin Robinson will not play against Tulane due to COVID-19 contact tracing protocols, Carey said.
The coaching staff is “hopeful” redshirt-freshman BUBO Yvondy Rigby will play against Tulane after missing the game against Memphis, Carey said.
The coaching staff does not expect graduate linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley to play in the game, Carey said.