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A closer look at Temple, which hosts USF on Saturday

The Owls fell to Navy, 31-29, in their season opener last weekend.
Temple quarterback Anthony Russo throws against Navy during the Owls' 31-29 loss last weekend in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Temple quarterback Anthony Russo throws against Navy during the Owls' 31-29 loss last weekend in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Gail Burton) [ GAIL BURTON | AP ]
Published Oct. 13, 2020

A look at Temple, which hosts USF on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia:

Nickname: Owls

2020 record: 0-1 (0-1 American Athletic Conference)

Opponents to date: lost Saturday at Navy, 31-29

Coach: Rod Carey (second season at Temple, 8-6; eighth season overall, 60-36)

The offensive breakdown: The sample size for the 2020 Owls is limited to four quarters. Due to coronavirus-related restrictions in Philadelphia, the Owls were cleared for full-team practices only about a month ago and didn’t kick off their season until Saturday’s narrow loss at Navy. They scored with 1:02 remaining, but Anthony Russo’s pass on the two-point try was batted away, preserving the Midshipmen’s victory. Russo, a 6-foot-4 senior who had some competition in the preseason, was solid in his 2020 debut (21-for-30, 206 yards, one TD, one INT), but suffered from some misreads and drops. His top targets from a year ago, seniors Jadan Blue (95 catches, 1,067 yards) and Branden Mack (56 catches, 886 yards), had a combined 12 receptions for 120 yards and a TD in Annapolis. Blue, who had 11 catches against the Bulls in last season’s 17-7 Owls triumph in Tampa, is 6-feet; Mack is 6-5. Tailback Re’Mahn Davis, a 210-pound sophomore who ran for nearly 1,000 yards last year, ran 23 times for 97 yards against Navy. The offensive line, which had to do some mild replenishing in the offseason, surrendered no sacks Saturday.

Related: USF's lack of defensive depth hit frightening low against East Carolina

The defensive breakdown: Just how effectively Carey re-loaded this unit, which lost its top six tacklers including grad-transfer defensive end Quincy Roche (Miami), probably won’t be determined for another few weeks. Temple surrendered 251 rushing yards to the Navy triple-option — but that’s the Navy triple-option. Perhaps more concerning is how it struggled mightily on third and fourth down, where the Midshipmen were a combined 12-for-18. Senior Isaiah Graham-Mobley, anchor of another potentially strong Owls linebacker corps, led the team with 14 tackles and a sack on Saturday.

Odds & ends: No fans will be allowed at Lincoln Financial Field, but crowd noise will be pumped in. ... Temple has won its last two against USF, both by 10 points. ... Carey said he overrode offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich on Temple’s foiled two-point try in Saturday’s waning moments. “I made the call,” Carey said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Mike had the call, and I should have gone with his.” ... Carey recruited USF graduate-transfer tight end Mitchell Brinkman to Northern Illinois. ... Mack (No. 1), Blue (5) and Graham-Mobley (8) are among those wearing single-digit jerseys this season. The jerseys are awarded to players deemed by teammates to be the Owls' toughest players.

Audible: “They remind me a lot of Boston College, the last few years that Clemson played Boston College. Tough, physical, well-coached, really good scheme. The only thing different is, I really believe that Temple has a better quarterback and better skill players than Boston College had the last couple of years.” — USF coach Jeff Scott