What you need to know about Temple’s week 5 matchup against Tulsa

Temple begins conference play on the road, but can they get back into the win column?

The Owls looks to prove themselves in conference play after going an even 2-2 in non-conference games. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

On Monday morning, Temple Football head coach Stan Drayton sat down at his normal table at Edberg-Olson Hall to begin his weekly press conference. Instead of preparing remarks, Drayton briefly fielded questions about last week’s 41-7 loss to now-No. 18 Miami before focusing on the upcoming week.

“I’m not really thinking about Miami anymore,” Drayton said. “It’s the same thing I keep telling you about our fundamentals and techniques. If we continue to play with that level of execution that we did against Miami, we won’t meet the goals that we’re trying to obtain.”

That is exactly how Temple (2-2, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) needs to respond heading into its matchup with Tulsa (2-2, 0-0 AAC) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

The Owls split their four games in non-conference play, and they’ll need to do the same in conference play to finish 6-6 and qualify for their first bowl game since 2019. The Hurricanes shut down the Owls’ offense for most of the game last week, and quarterback Tyler Van Dyke also found holes in the defense.

Can the Owls play their best football to begin AAC play Thursday in Tulsa, Oklahoma? Here is everything that you need to know ahead of Temple’s week five matchup against the Golden Hurricane.


Last week, Temple’s defensive line went up against the 11th-ranked rushing offense in the country, which averages almost 223 yards on the ground. Miami averages just one sack allowed per game, good for 20th in the country. The Miami offense is the eighth-best in total offense, which was on full display in its 543 yard performance on Saturday.

On the other side of the ball, Miami has the second-best rushing defense, allowing just 48 yards per game to opponents. Temple only had 11 rushing yards Saturday, the fewest in a game since Drayton was hired.

Needless to say, Temple’s lines had its hands full against Miami.

Despite the strength of their opponents, the Owls have not found consistency on the lines this season. The veteran players on the right side of the offensive line, tackle Victor Stoffel and guard Wisdom Quarshie, have not played up to their standard, Drayton said. 

The defensive line has also struggled due to a lack of depth. The Owls are still trying to replace Demerick Morris, and they will be in for a challenge against Tulsa’s offensive line Thursday.

“The left side of the offensive line is as good as any,” Drayton said. “They’ve got a right tackle that’s 345 pounds, [6-foot-5-inches]. They’re pretty big, and they were transfers from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. We’ve got a challenge in the trenches again, and our guys got to step up and meet that challenge.”

When the Owls successfully ran the ball against Norfolk State, they stayed on schedule and sustained drives. Temple averaged about five more yards per rush against Norfolk State than against Miami when adjusted for sacks. Temple needs to establish the run early against Tulsa to make life easier for quarterback E.J. Warner.

On the other side of the ball, the linebackers will need to improve. Single-digit linebacker Yvandy Rigby did not dress last week, which was a big part of the defense’s struggles. Despite playing just two games, Rigby is fifth on the team in tackles with 19. Rigby gets to the ball and solidifies the inside for Temple.

Controlling the line of scrimmage will be key for Temple on Thursday. If the Owls win up front, they could start AAC play at 1-0.


The offense’s struggles stem from a combination of issues. When the running game doesn’t get going, the passing game struggles as well.

However, Warner has struggled with being consistent this season. Out of his 157 attempts, he’s completed 84 passes for 1,000 yards. His nearly 54 completion percentage is 109th out of 124 eligible FBS quarterbacks.

Last week, Warner completed 56 percent of his passes in the loss, but even against Norfolk State, in a 41-9 blowout victory, Warner completed just 64 percent

Despite the inconsistency, Warner has still played well, as he is fifth in the AAC in passing yards and tied for sixth in passing touchdowns. 

The absence of a number-one running back has hurt Warner, but when Joquez Smith had his breakout game against Norfolk State, Warner looked more comfortable in the pocket. Temple needs to find a balance between the rushing and passing offense this week to contend for the AAC title.

“Of course, you want the run game,” Warner said. “It takes the pressure off, it helps bring some more guys into the box so you can throw a little easier.”


The Golden Hurricane, like the Owls, have had an up-and-down season, alternating wins and losses through the first four weeks. They are coming off of a 22-14 win against Northern Illinois last week. Their two losses this year, against No. 7 Washington and No. 14 Oklahoma, were by a combined 82 points.  

Tulsa has had success running the ball this season, registering the fourth-best rushing average in the AAC at 170 yards per game. The Golden Hurricane have two running backs that have gained more than two hundred yards in four games — Anthony Watkins has 243 and Jordan Ford has 215.

Quarterback Cardell Williams leads the Tulsa offense, but he’s had his fair share of struggles this year. Williams has thrown for 596 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions with a 58 percent completion percentage. In last week’s win, Williams finished with 102 yards and two interceptions.

“He’s a dual threat, a real dual threat,” Drayton said. “He can run. He’s very athletic, shifty, can change direction. They do a lot of quarterback runs with him.”

Defensively, Tulsa has struggled mightily against the pass, allowing more than 300 yards through the air per game. Opponents are averaging more than nine yards per passing attempt against Tulsa, and they’ve allowed 10 passing touchdowns through the first four weeks of the season. 

The Owls will need to stop the run game and take advantage of the Golden Hurricanes’ struggles to stop the passing attack to get back on track with a win.


Declan Landis, Sports Editor: “I don’t think this game is a simple one to pick. I can see us talking about a win or loss Friday morning. However, I don’t think the Owls will be able to stop the run. Tulsa will pound the rock and control the clock on the way to a win.”

Tulsa wins 24-17.

Johnny Zawislak, Assistant Sports Editor: “I believe the Owls will be able to kick off their conference schedule by getting back in the win column against the Golden Hurricane.”

Temple wins 31-24.

Ryan Mack, Assistant Sports Editor: “I believe Temple is going to have a bounce-back game after the blowout last week. While it may not look pretty, they’ll find their groove and start conference play with a win”

Temple wins 24-14.

Jaison Nieves, Sports Social Media Manager: “I believe the Owls will have trouble as they have all season when it comes to stopping the run and controlling the tempo of the game. I think it will be a close one but I dont think Temple will pull this one out.”

Tulsa wins 27-24.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.