Temple (2-1) lost in all three facets of football in their 38-22 defeat against Buffalo (2-2) this past Saturday. Morale was so low to the extent that Owls head coach Rod Carey withheld players from postgame interviews, citing “they are a hurting group, they are kids and it is my job to protect them.” Temple’s four turnovers impacted their performance and was part of what plagued them in their loss.
“I don’t want to oversimplify it because there were execution problems there. We need to coach better and then, simply put, we need to not turn the ball over four times,” Carey said. “I don’t know how many games you’re going to win with four turnovers and then a punt snap that’s bad. So you can count that and say five turnovers to one. I don’t know how many games you win like that. We’ve gone to work getting that corrected and really putting emphasis on those things this week in context of Georgia Tech.”
Quarterback Anthony Russo (R-Jr.) threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball following a sack in an underwhelming outing. Russo struggled completing passes in Temple’s win over Maryland and faced similar issues against the Bulls. Russo opened the game going 7-for-8 passing with a touchdown, but he completed just 18 of his next 43 throws. He finished 25-for-51 for 258 yards.
Russo struggled with accuracy for the majority of the game, as throwing behind receivers led to one of his interceptions. Temple regularly played from behind, placing more workload on Russo’s shoulders to create sustainable drives through the air.
“I think that’s what you sign up for in a quarterback position,” Russo said. “You want to be the guy that the pressure is on. You want to be the guy people turn to when stuff is going bad. I think that I was that guy on Saturday and I don’t think I performed the way I needed to. I apologized to the team. Told them that it won’t happen again, I won’t let them down like I did on Saturday. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I don’t let them down like I did.”
Russo (10 touchdowns, five interceptions) can rebound in his upcoming matchup against Georgia Tech. Russo’s precision on his fade routes is a weapon in Temple’s offense, and one of his positive takeaways was his ball placement on the two touchdowns he threw to wideout Branden Mack (R-Jr.). Mack is a 6’5″ playmaker at wide receiver, who can tap into his length when needed. Mack has 219 yards and two touchdowns through three games.
Gashed on Defense
Defensively, the Owls were dominated at the line by Buffalo’s offensive linemen and Jaret Patterson (So.) was a steady performer at tailback. Buffalo regularly found themselves in solid second and third down situations from their running game, forcing Temple to competently defend their read option attack. Patterson rushed 27 times for a whopping 133 yards and scored twice on the ground.
Temple allowed a season-high 217 rushing yards. Temple’s leading tackler on Saturday Chapelle Russell (Grad.) believes the Owls’ performance isn’t indicative of what they’re capable of. He finished with nine tackles and one tackle for loss.
“I feel like people just got out of character last week, just doing everybody’s job – just doing things that you weren’t supposed to be doing. For everybody to come and just do your one-11th every snap, we’re going to be good,” Russell said. “Everybody’s got to come out and do their one-11th – I feel like we’ll be fine. You just have to be very disciplined. We have a very gap disciplined defense. If everybody is in their gap, I feel like we can stop the run if we play anybody.”
“Doing your one-11th” refers to each of the 11 players on the defensive side of the ball executing in their individual matchups and roles. Temple currently ranks 53rd in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game at 133.0 YPG.
Temple faces another run-based team in Georgia Tech (1-2) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET, as former Owls head coach Geoff Collins returns to Lincoln Financial Field.
Special Teams News
Redshirt freshman Ron Gaines will start at long snapper for the Owls, per Carey, as two botched snaps over the past two weeks sparked the change.
Carey on WR Randle Jones (Sr.): “Randle did not practice today again, but he did run. Full-go on the sideline, so I should have the test results back from that here this afternoon. If that’s a clear, then he should practice tomorrow. If he practices tomorrow, I’d hope to play him at least some.”