Temple vs Bucknell Fun Fact: In 1966, Temple defeated Bucknell 82-28. Quarterback John Waller threw for 5 touchdowns. Shockingly, this is the second highest point total in school history.
FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FOR THE CHERRY AND THE WHITE
The Temple Owls open their season versus the Bucknell Bison on Saturday afternoon (3PM ET). Head coach Rod Carey will make his much anticipated debut for the Temple Owls. Temple’s football program continues to reach new heights. Temple has played in four straight bowl games for the first time in school history. Since 1930, Temple has played in only four total bowl games prior to this recent stretch of success.
According to the 2019 Patriot League Preseason Poll, Bucknell is yet again projected to finish dead last in the conference. Bucknell’s best players includes junior linebacker Simeon Page and punter Alex Pechin, who were both named to the 2019 Patriot League Preseason All-League Team.
Anthony Russo will make his first career opening day start for the Temple Owls on Saturday. Here are some top matchups and storylines to watch for against Bucknell.
Ed Foley & Isaiah Wright vs Bucknell
You have to start with Temple Special Teams Coordinator Ed Foley. Foley was a three year starter at Bucknell University, playing offensive guard and center. He was considered the team’s top offensive lineman and was team captain during his senior year. Could Ed Foley take it easy on his former alma mater? Highly doubtful. Especially after getting embarrassed by Duke on the national stage during the Independence Bowl.
This also sets the stage for a huge game from dynamic playmaker Isaiah Wright, one of the top return men in college football. For a great write up by Jake Hyman on expectations for Isaiah Wright, click here. Isaiah Wright is the x-factor for the Temple Owls on offense. He can be put all over the field at running back and wide receiver in the slot. Wright is expected to be a huge part of the Temple offense, so expect Rod Carey to get him some touches early on in the screen game and in the backfield.
Temple’s Running Game vs Simeon Page
Rod Carey has stressed that it will be running back by committee on offense this season for the Temple Owls. A major storyline entering Saturday is which running back impressed the most and will get the most carries on Saturday? Jager Gardner is the early favorite to get the bulk of the carries in the backfield. Gardner has 65 carries for 253 yards and one touchdown in 2018.
Rod Carey loved to run the ball at Northern Illinois, and it will be interesting to see what the offense looks like in terms of running the ball vs attacking through the air. With such a solid offensive line, I can’t wait to see Rod Carey’s offensive system on Saturday. Anthony Russo was excellent in 2018, and the offense clicked. Does Carey adopt some of Geoff Collins’ system or immediately implement his own? It’s definitely something to watch.
Shaun Bradley vs Bucknell’s Running Game
The Bucknell offense is very limited, and I expect an experienced Temple linebacker group to have a field day versus the Bison on Saturday. Led by 6’1″ senior Shaun Bradley, Temple’s linebackers are experienced and ready for a huge season. Shaun Bradley earned #theSTANDARD Player of the Game six times, finished second on the team in tackles, and started every game for the Owls last season. Bradley’s biggest moment in 2018 was his game winning interception in overtime vs #20 Cincinnati.
Shaun Bradley is receiving lots of national attention in 2019. He’s been named to the Bednarik Watch List and the Nagurski Trophy Watch List. He’s not only a great tackler, but he’s one of the biggest playmakers on a high scoring defense. Bradley is a team captain for 2019 and comes in with huge expectations. Bucknell eclipsed 100 yards on the ground only one time in 2018. There is a good chance you hear Shaun Bradley’s name all game long on Saturday.
Other than Isaiah Wright, the player to watch in this game is defensive end Quincy Roche. The Bucknell offense is limited, and everything is aligning for a huge day by the 6’3″ junior defensive end. One of Temple’s most important players to 2019, Quincy Roche had 6 sacks and 9 tackles for loss in 2018. There is a very good chance that Quincy Roche’s name gets called when the AAC announces All-Conference honors by season’s end.
I’m expecting a huge day from the Temple TUFF defense on Saturday vs the Bucknell Bison. Expect 2 sacks from defensive end Quincy Roche and at least 200 yards of offense on the ground. I’m hoping that the questions in the backfield become answered on Saturday after a strong performance by the 6’2″ running back Jager Gardner (roughly 150 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns).
However, it is extremely important that Rod Carey and the Temple Owls do not take this game lightly. I still have nightmares from last year’s opening losses versus Villanova and Buffalo. If Temple shows up on Saturday, everything points to a big Temple victory by multiple touchdowns. I expect this game to be over by halftime and some second half rest for Anthony Russo, who is recovering from a calf injury. A late Bucknell touchdown prevents this game from being a shut out from the Temple defense.