Temple (2-0) allowed just 340 yards to a Maryland (2-1) team whose offense looked electric coming into today’s matchup. It was an impressive feat for the Owls, but how head coach Rod Carey’s defense made regular stops both on third and fourth down might be just as large of a takeaway from Temple’s 20-17 win.
Three of their most crucial stops came in high-leverage situations, having to keep Maryland out of the end zone in three goal-line possessions, and two when up by five points late. Temple linebacker Chapelle Russell (Gr.) came through the hole and met Maryland running back Anthony McFarland Jr. (So.) at the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line.
Later, Temple senior linebacker Shaun Bradley came cruising up the gut to slam McFarland for a loss on fourth down during their second goal-line stand. Bradley was an important member of Temple’s second line with eight tackles and three tackles for loss. His explosion and size are a potent combination.
After Temple kicker Adam Barry (So.) botched a punt that went only seven yards from their own three-yard line, the Owls’ defense responded with a four-and-out that would ice Temple’s upset win.
The Owls allowed Maryland to pick up just one first down, holding the Terrapins to 1-6 on fourth-down plays. Maryland’s blend of playmakers and scheme makes for a difficult threat for defenses to contain, but Temple succeeded in taking the Terps off the field on fourth down.
Temple’s pass rush kept Maryland quarterback Josh Jackson (R-Jr.) uncomfortable throughout the game. Defensive tackle Ifeanyi Maijeh (R-So.) led Temple with two sacks while starting defensive ends Quincy Roche (R-Jr.) and Zack Mesday (Gr.) had one apiece. Maijeh has pieced together a strong two-game performance, as he was Temple’s standout defensive lineman in the Owls’ opener against Bucknell.
On the Owls’ final defensive play, Temple got good penetration prior to Jackson’s incompletion on fourth-and-goal at Temple’s 12-yard line. Jackson was just 9-for-25 passing during the first half and finished 16-for-38 for a mere 183 yards and one passing touchdown. He regularly threw errant passes, but Temple’s defense also factored into his underwhelming outing.
Baylor transfer cornerback Harrison Hand (Jr.) picked up Temple’s first interception of the season and led the Owls with 10 tackles.
No Maryland wide receiver or skill position player surpassed 42 receiving yards. McFarland broke a big gain for 33 yards on the ground on one occasion, and finished with 132 yards and a touchdown on 26 rushes. Temple didn’t allow McFarland to gash them on outside runs, which was a possibility heading into today’s matchup.
Temple quarterback Anthony Russo (R-Jr.) struggled with his accuracy, finishing just 20-for-37 passing, but seems to have established a deep threat connection with redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jadan Blue.
Temple answers Maryland's touchdown, as Anthony Russo hooks up with Jadan Blue on a fade route for a touchdown. Blue with the YAC after getting leverage. Temple leads 13-9 after an unsuccessful two-point conversion. pic.twitter.com/r36fpjajj3— Jake Hyman (@RealJakeHyman) September 14, 2019
Blue led Temple in receiving yards with 132 while tallying five receptions and one touchdown. Senior wide receiver Randle Jones complemented wide receivers Branden Mack (R-Jr.) and Isaiah Wright (Sr.) last season, but it appears that Blue is poised for breakout season alongside Mack and Wright. He has 249 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions through two games.
Russo also received a boost with tight end Kenny Yeboah returning from injury. The 6’5″, 240-pound tight end hauled in a tough touchdown reception and had 44 yards on four receptions.
Similar pass play to Russo's passing touchdown to his tight end last week against Bucknell. He rolls to his right and Kenny Yeboah snags the ball in the end zone for the touchdown. Russo has three touchdown passes to one interception. Temple leads 20-15 over Maryland. pic.twitter.com/ezHGMnZlUR— Jake Hyman (@RealJakeHyman) September 14, 2019
Russo’s 277-yard, three-touchdown performance helps Temple’s signal caller develop early offensive momentum. He’s thrown seven touchdowns to just two interceptions and 657 yards through Temple’s first two games. Russo displayed downfield touch, and he has a speedster in Blue to execute on fades.
Temple freshman running back Re’Mahn Davis followed up his standout debut with 92 yards on 15 carries. Jager Gardner’s 82 yards were the second-most in his career on the ground but he coughed up the ball, which Maryland recovered. Temple’s dual-back system at running back has been effective in both of their wins.
Horrible Special Teams
An area far from effective was Temple’s special teams. Kicker Will Mobley missed a 34-yard field goal, Temple botched a snap on a punt for a safety, Barry averaged just 32.0 yards on seven punts and DJ Turner nearly scored on a punt return. Temple recorded a stop after Turner’s return, as their defense was a collective standout today.
While Temple went just 3-for-14 on third downs, the Owls’ defense held Maryland to 5-for-21 (23.8 percent) on third down. Temple’s defense gave their offense numerous opportunities to deliver and Russo & co. eventually pulled through.