Temple plagued by the deep ball in 45-21 loss to SMU

SMU (7-0, 3-0) quarterback Shane Buechele (Jr.) completed just 30 of 53 passes Saturday against the Owls (5-2, 2-1), but those completions made up his 457-yard passing performance. He averaged 15.2 yards per completion, and he threw three touchdowns from 33 yards or farther in the Mustangs’ 45-21 win over Temple, two being 75-yard and 60-yard touchdown passes.

Temple’s cornerbacks couldn’t keep up with SMU’s wide receiver unit, spearheaded by Reggie Roberson Jr. The junior hauled in eight receptions for a robust 250 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Buechele threw for six touchdowns, and Temple allowed 655 total yards. The Owls’ defense recorded zero sacks and allowed 34 first downs, compared to Temple’s offense only generating 15.

Temple Drops the Ball

Part of that small total was a product of dropped passes, reminiscent of their defeat against Buffalo earlier this season. Wide receivers Branden Mack (R-Jr.), Jadan Blue (R-So.), Isaiah Wright (Sr.), and Re’Mahn Davis (Fr.) all dropped at least one pass. Wright also muffed a punt and fumbled. They are major contributors who could’ve picked up big gains if not for letting the ball slip away.   

While Blue’s drop might not have arguably been significant, as Temple’s defense couldn’t contain the Mustangs’ offense, Temple couldn’t convert one play later on fourth down in a potential scoring drive down 17 points.

Improved QB Play Goes to Waste

Anthony Russo’s (R-Jr.) performance improved, compared to recent weeks, despite what his 18-for-32 day would indicate. He threw a spectacular fade route to Mack for a 25-yard touchdown and placed a deep route throw to Blue where he could catch and run with the ball. He finished with 171 passing yards and two total touchdowns.

Backup quarterback Todd Centeio (R-So.) entered for two drives, which amounted to zero points. He’s thrown the ball with efficiency, with his 3-for-4 passing performance factored in, but he hasn’t produced a drive that culminated in six points since being elevated to his current role.

Davis, Jager Gardner (R-Sr.), and Temple’s offensive line couldn’t generate the same rhythm or consistent push so frequent in their wins this season. Davis finished with 54 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries while Gardner didn’t fare as well, posting 17 yards on seven carries.

Over his past two games, Davis is averaging a mere 3.2 yards per carry.  

Temple punter Adam Barry was struggling prior to Saturday’s game, but his eight-punt performance could alter the tides of his season. The sophomore averaged 46.3 yards, and if he could complement kicker Will Mobley (R-So.), Temple’s special teams might experience a turnaround. 

The Owls were slashed by UCF’s skill position players last season, and Temple’s secondary needs to rebound next Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field if the Cherry and White hope to avoid two straight AAC losses.