The Temple Owls return to work after a week off. The Cherry and White will take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes at the Linc on October 11, 2014 with kickoff at noon. This will be the second American Athletic Conference game for both squads, each sporting a 1 – 0 conference record. The Owls will be coming their second bye week. In their last outing Temple (3 – 1) won their conference opener on the road at Connecticut by a 36 – 10 score. The defense and special teams are scoring in addition to the offense. But the week off is being viewed by Temple Coach Matt Rhule as an opportunity to improve, not rest on laurels.
“We’re excited to get back on the field after our second bye week,” said Rhule. “It is a bit unusual to have two bye weeks after five weeks. It was good for us to work on things we were not doing well. I tried to bring along some of our young players. We were able to rest some guys and get them healthy. I think we will be ready.”
In the Homecoming game the Cherry and White meet a 1 – 4 Tulsa team that has a conference win against Tulane. The Golden Hurricanes feature a passing attack that Temple must contend with. Their average passing yardage is 287.6 yards per game. Quarterback Dane Evans has thrown 214 passes this season for 1,367 yards. Keevan Lucas has become the favorite target catching 44 passes for 540 yards and 6 touchdowns. Keyarris Garrett has been injured, but still has 314 yards on 21 receptions. Tulsa is expected to cause problems for the Temple defense.
“We haven’t proven that we can stop the pass,” Rhule said. “We haven’t shown that we can stop the fast, no huddle offense. Tulsa is one of the originators of that. They can throw the ball as well an anybody. They can throw the football, and we haven’t proven that we can stop that yet.”
Evans has been intercepted 10 times this season. The opportunistic Owls defense has picked off 8 opponent passes led by Tavon Young with 3. The defense has scored 5 touchdowns this season. Rhule feels this is the reason is simple.
“It’s just confidence,” Rhule said. “It’s going for the ball and making a play.”
On offense Temple is led by quarterback P.J. Walker who has completed 82 of 126 passes for 805 yards and 7 touchdowns. Three of his passes have fallen into opponents hands. Walker has gained 99 yards on the ground and has crossed the goal line twice. He has improved his game and is expected to get better.
“It is P.J.’s time to get started,” Rhule said of his sophomore quarterback. “He has eleven starts under his belt. It is time for him to go out and play like a sophomore and eliminate the freshman mistakes. Now it’s time for him to excel in every aspect of the game.”
Jalen Fitzpatrick is the leading receiver on the team with 19 catches for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns. Running back Kenneth Harper is second in receiving with 14 receptions for 92 yards while adding 100 yards on the ground. He has 2 touchdowns. Tulsa has given up an average of 42 points per game. Oklahoma scored 52 of those points and Florida Atlantic posted 50.
Should the Owls continue their forward progress it will only give the coach and team more motivation to get better. The team has been given the responsibility of improving each day. It is not the stats that matter, it is trying to be a quality program. That is what matters to Rhule.
“We’re not a good team yet,” said Rhule. “We’ve beaten three teams that have three wins between them. We have a stretch of six games where we will face some really good teams. Our goal is to be a good team. A good team goes to practice, a good team watches film, a good team goes to class, and that is what I want us to do.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian