Temple opened up its 2019 season against FCS Bucknell yesterday with a resounding 56-12 victory. This is the first opening day victory since 2015 and starts the Rod Carey era with some confidence. A few game notes below
One of the more intriguing storylines heading into the season is what a Coach U offense would look like. The Owls mixed in heavy packages with the spread and went uptempo as well. The offense looked good and it’s hard to criticize a 56 point and 695 yard effort. Temple racked up yards as the Bucknell punter was able to flip the field and pin the Owls back. He may have legitimately been the best player on the field for both teams. Back to the offense….
Having been injured the last few weeks, Russo was only pronounced as starter earlier in the week with Centeio taking much of the 1st team reps throughout camp.
Russo looked smooth in the offense and it’s hard to criticize a 400 yard amd 4 TD performance. He made a bad throw that lead to a pick six, but otherwise played to the teams strengths and hit his throws. Needs to work on the medium-long passes as he missed a few of those too, but overall an encouraging day.
Centeio looked ok to me. Obviously not the same when you have the 2nd team O-line and WRs, but he missed a pass and seemed to rush his decision-making with the read options.
Offensive line looked sharp opening up for 188 yards rushing. To me they looked better pass-blocking, but it’s hard to gauge in this type of game.
Gardner and Davis looked impressive, but it was the true freshman that stole the show. A great game from Davis. Seems like a RB by committee is best right now. Shaun Bradley and Wright got some carriers well. Dobbins was running with the 2nd team unit and clearly runs hard but doesn’t quite seem to have that same vision as Davis.
We knew coming into the season that a Coach Stewart and Coach Knowles defensive line would be active. The first two teams looked really good, Maijeh may have been the defensive player of the game for the Owls. A 2017 commit as Collins attempted to salvage whatever remained of the class that was decimated after Rhule’s departure, Maijeh looks like a gem. Khris Banks also played well. I do have reservations with the DE. Roche and Mesday looked solid. but the Bucknell offensive line won’t be the same as Maryland or UCF. I was hoping to see a bit more from those two. Nickolos Madourie and Arnold Ebiketie looked good as deeper roster players. The premier of Travon King at DE was inspiring, but he still needs to add weight.
Layton Jordan at OLB looked good rushing the passer and making plays downfield, as did Audley Isaacs.
LaFree was able to boot some touchbacks, a good sign heading into the main stretch of the season. Mobley looked a little shakey at times on PAT and I think the staff was hoping to see a FG or two attempt from him as well. Wright looks dangerous as always as a returner but he seems to want to do a little much sometimes. It’s okay to take what the punt coverage gives you.
When you limit the opposing QBs to 190 yards passing, it was a good day. So from that perspective the DBs played well. If the pass rush gets nullified like it will against Maryland, the story will likely be different. There is definitely some concern back there. DaeSean Winston was out of position a few times, as was Freddie Johnson. Sanders was running free at times and doing what he wanted. I am not sure why the spread-option RB dive with the fake handoff and quick slants was such a success with the intermediate passes when Bucknell could not run against the DL. The Downingtown product made some real nice catches, something Temple will have to clean up.
A Win is a win
As is always the case with Temple playing FCS or lower tier opponents, a win is a good thing. Temple has struggled recently including absolute gaffes against Fordham and Villanova. The team came out inspired and well prepared, a breath of fresh air compared to Collins’ and Rhule’s first games.
And with that, Temple will go into an usual early season bye week and the staff will more than likely hit the recruiting trail as well.