Temple Owls: Running Backs shine in win over Tulsa

Temple Owls were ‘three deep’ at the running back position against Tulsa
NCAA Football: Tulsa at Temple

Oct 11, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls running back Jahad Thomas (34) stiff arms Tulsa Golden Hurricane safety Michael Mudoh (1) at Lincoln Financial Field. The Owls won 35-24. (Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

PHILADELPHIA – (C+P) On a cloudy, damp Homecoming Day for Temple, the team improved to 4-1 for the first time since 2010 and remained unbeaten in conference play after defeating the Tulsa Golden Hurricane 35-24. There were a few reasons why Temple was able to win the game. However, the main reason Temple was successful was the contribution of Temple running backs Jahad Thomas, Jamie Gilmore and Kenny Harper.

“They certainly took advantage of some of the injury situations at that weak side linebacker,” Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship said in his news conference.

Temple head coach Matt Rhule still saw potential in the running game even after averaging 3.59 yards a carry heading into the game. “I just felt like the offensive line in the past game needed to open a few more holes, and we were a step or two away,” he said.

“We had 200 rushing yards today, and we only had five guys on our line and they played the whole game. The offensive line is growing together and getting some cohesiveness, and I thought that it showed.”

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Temple
Temple Owls running back Jahad Thomas (34) runs the ball during a game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Lincoln Financial Field. (Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Jahad Thomas led the way against the Golden Hurricane with 152 yards on 14 carries while Jamie Gilmore rushed for 43 yards on 6 carries. The running backs not only contributed on the ground; they showed some versatility in the passing game. Gilmore had his first 100 yard receiving game of his Temple career. Kenny Harper had an early touchdown and Harper and Thomas each added some big catches.

The continuing competition is starting to make the running back position a major strength for the Owls offense. “We have a competition right now. I know Jamie Gilmore had a couple long rushes and two long receptions. And when David Hood’s time comes he is going to be really good. I feel good about the depth.”

During the bye week, Temple coaches met with the running backs to discuss what was going on with group.

“Last week we had a meeting. They told us we need to increase our level of play and playmaking,” stated Jahad Thomas. “Throughout this week, the level of intensity has increased tremendously. We just all pushing each other to be the best every day.”

Thomas was tabbed to be the starter after a good week of practice, running with the first team. “We know from practice that Jahad always has a chance to do something,” said Matt Rhule. “He has a great change of direction and great quickness and he is just kind of growing in the position. “

Thomas was a standout running back who played with quarterback PJ Walker at Elizabeth High School in New Jersey. Thomas was originally a defensive back which later converted back to his natural position of running back after he received some lobbying support from his longtime teammate. “I thought I would be playing running back when I first committed here. Once I got the opportunity to play offense, it was great that PJ had my back on that pushed the coach’s decision and once they made the decision to just run with it.”

Temple’s next game will be Friday night in Texas versus the Houston Cougars. It is not clear who the number one running back will be Friday. All of the running backs will look to do their best with the time that they are in the game. “We have not seen our best yet. We just continue to work hard and expand on our talents,” Jahad Thomas. Who knows?  Maybe Temple has found their version of Earth, Wind & Fire.

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