The UConn football has to travel to Philadelphia this weekend to take on Temple, the reigning American Athletic Conference champions. This game also represents one of the more winnable games on the schedule for the Huskies. So, what happened to Temple?
Almost all of the talent from last year’s formidable Temple team hit the road. Even Matt Rhule, the coach that turned Temple from one of the worst jobs in college football to making three straight bowl games, left to go coach at Baylor.
Temple’s leading rusher (Jahad Thomas), leading passer (PJ Walker), and all-conference defensive end (Haason Reddick) graduated, as well as two other starting linemen and all three linebackers. That’s a lot of production to replace, and Temple is clearly still trying to figure out how.
Temple started off the season getting blown out by Notre Dame, then eked out wins against Villanova (an FCS school) and UMass, a bottom-of-the-barrell FBS team. Temple was outgained all three times, and required excellent turnover luck to win against Villanova and Temple.
Temple then got blown out by South Florida, a trendy thing for American teams to do nowadays, played a good Houston team close, and finally got their first win against a conference opponent against ECU. The Owls are definitely on the upswing, but the question is how far their limited talent will get them.
Sophomore Logan Marchi has gotten the start at quarterback for most of the year, and hasn’t looked too hot so far. Marchi has completed only 53 percent of his passes and has already thrown for seven interceptions so far, but he is coming off of the best game of his career against ECU, where he threw for two touchdowns and a career-high 321 yards.
Temple did return their top two receivers from last year in Keith Kirkwood and Adonis Jennings, but Marchi’s favorite target so far has been sophomore Isaiah Wright, who has had a breakout season so far. Wright has caught 21 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.
Temple’s rushing attack has been disappointing so far this year. Junior Ryquell Armstead was expected to spearhead the Owls’ ground game to give their young quarterback time to develop, but has only averaged 3.2 yards per carry so far in 2017.
In pretty much every season under Matt Rhule, Temple relied on their defense to anchor their team, but even that side of the ball has gone downhill for the Owls this year. Temple gives up 5.8 yards per play, 79th in the nation in that category.
However, junior defensive back Delvon Randall has really come into his own in 2017, racking up 40 tackles on the year, four tackles for loss, and two interceptions already on the year.
Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.