With the Temple Owls gearing up for their Week 2 match up against the Cincinnati Bearcats, Chris Franklin takes a look at how the teams stack up.
2015 Record: 1-0 (Defeated Alabama A&M 52-10)
The Temple Owls, fresh off their historic 27-10 victory over Penn State, have to turn their focus on to Cincinnati. The Bearcats were the preseason favorite to win the American Athletic Conference. This game will have an even bigger significance. With the new conference structure splitting the divisions, the winner of this game will have an early inside track on winning the East Division.
From the Top
During the weekly American Athletic Conference Weekly Teleconference, Cincinnati Head Coach Tommy Tuberville was complimentary to the Owls after seeing last week’s performance. “It’s a formidable team at this point. They are well coached on both sides of the ball” stated Tuberville. “They don’t do a whole lot. They play a lot of technique. They pressure you when they need to on defense. They have a lot of seniors. They have a lot of guys that have been around, a lot of guys who have played a lot of good football. Unfortunately last year, they were left out of the bowl situation which they should not have been. It was really unfair.”
“Their offense is ran by their quarterback. He is very mobile. They are doing some things with him to get him out of the pocket. He runs the ball. He’s gotten much better. His first start was against us two years ago. You can just tell how much better he has gotten. They have a good offensive line, a lot of speedy receivers and some very quick running backs. This is a better team than they had last year. We’re going to have to play a better games to have an opportunity to win the game.”
He also talked in-depth about the Temple defense. “They play hard, and they do not make a lot of mistakes. They tackle pretty well, and they are well-coached. They have been since I have been in this league. This year they are fortunate to have a lot of experienced guys back. It lets them play faster on defense. They play really fast. When you get that many sacks, you’re giving people problems. You’re whipping people at the point of attack, and you’re getting a lot of people around the football.
The offensive line held the highly touted Penn State line in check. The difference between this week and last week will be the Bearcats strength on the line will be on the edge instead of the inside. Defensive end Silverberry Mouhon can be very disruptive and put pressure on the quarterback. Temple’s starting right tackle last week, Leon Johnson, left the game Saturday and did not return. He is currently listed as day-to-day. If Johnson is not able to go, it will be interesting to see how his replacement will do. It will also be interesting to see if the Owls leave a tight end in to block or chip Mouhon before entering their pass routes. The Bearcat secondary was tested early in the game. Alabama A&M seemed to target Adrian Witty. Witty, who was playing in his first game since the 2013 season, had trouble early on but settled down and played better as the game went on. If Walker gets time to throw, do not be surprised to see Robbie Anderson or Adonis Jennings challenge Witty deep down the field.
Gunner Kiel is good. He is really good and in the author’s opinion, a better quarterback than Christian Hackenberg. He is a little more mobile than Hackenberg and also a more accurate passer. They like to run crossing routes and quick screens. Shaq Washington is an elusive receiver. Against Alabama A&M, Washington was Kiel’s favorite target. He lined up on the outside and in the slot. Whichever cornerback is lined up against him will have to make sure he does not get behind them. They will also have to make sure that if he does make a catch, tackle him immediately.
This is an area where both coaches said Monday that the needed to make adjustments to a couple of their units on special teams. For Temple, the kickoff coverage and kickoff return teams did not perform at the level that Coach Rhule would have liked. For Cincinnati, they allowed a punt to be blocked and had a few special teams penalties. Alex Starzyk helped with field position Saturday and Austin Jones made two big field goals.
This game is going to be close and decided in the fourth quarter. In the last few years with Temple, whenever they had a big win, they had a setback the next week. Matt Rhule and his staff look like they will have the team locked in for this road game. Look for one of the special teams units; probably the punt return unit will make a big play. This game will be extremely close.
Temple 24, Cincinnati 23.