In a Week 2 showdown under the lights at SHI stadium, the Scarlet Knights host a familiar foe in the Temple Owls. This is the third year in a row that these two teams face off. It was a 61-14 win for Rutgers in 2021 and 16-14 in 2022. To get a better idea of what to expect from this years version of the Owls, let’s take a look the Week 1 game between Temple and Akron.
The game started off slow for the Temple Owls. On the first drive of the game, the Owls let up a long 77-yard play action pass for a touchdown to Akron running back Lorenzo Lingard. This was a nice play design as quarterback DJ Irons faked a run then hit a jump pass for the long score. Temple then responded with a touchdown drive, led by impressive sophomore quarterback E.J. Warner. He hit a couple of passes to wide receiver Dante Wright and the Owls punched in a one-yard touchdown run.
In response, Akron drove down the field on the strength of their quarterback play. Irons threw the ball all around the field to lead the team on this drive. This included a 50-yard bomb to wide receiver Daniel George. The drive was capped off by New Jersey native Tahj Bullock, who scored on a quarterback keeper. After a Temple punt, Akron had a nice return to set up a short field. The Zips took advantage of this and were able to throw a swing pass to running back Myles Walker to take 21-7 lead. The game was threatening to get away from Temple, but Warner was able to complete passes to running back Edward Saydee and receiver Dante Wright during their two minute drill. Temple drove most of the length of the field and were able to cut the lead to 21-10 on a last second field goal. This seemed to give the offense the momentum it needed into the second half.
The second half started the way the first half ended as the Temple offense came out swinging. Warner completed passes to multiple receivers and Temple scored through an Edward Saydee swing pass. Temple then missed the extra point to make the game 21-16. The Temple defense looked like a different defense in the second half as head coach Stan Drayton said he lit into them to play better during half time. The team heard the message and put together stops on consecutive drives in the third quarter. Temple then went on a long scoring drive that spanned the last few minutes of the third quarter and into the beginning of the fourth quarter. They got down to the goal line after big receptions from Wright and Amad Anderson. It took them all four downs, but they were able to score on another swing pass to Saydee. This was the last score in the game, and the defense pitched a shut out in the fourth for Temple to bring home the hard-fought win.
Important Takeaway’s for Rutgers
Warner is very talented. He makes solid decisions, has great accuracy, and a quick release. Rutgers cannot afford to give him time or he will be able to have success against them. He was playing against lower competition, but I was more impressed by him than by Northwestern quarterback Ben Bryant.
Temple has very good skill position players. In watching the game Saydee, Wright, and Anderson were particularly impressive. Saydee caught two touchdown passes and made the first defender miss on most of his receptions. He didn’t have as much success running the ball, but that was more a product of the offensive line. Saydee finished the game with five receptions for 37 yards and two touchdowns. He also added eight carries for 18 yards. Amad Anderson was once upon a time a Rutgers recruit, and you can see why. He is a shifty receiver who has good hands and he made multiple key receptions on third downs. He compiled four receptions for 65 yards. Dante Wright is a transfer from Colorado State who definitely looked the part in this game. He caught passes in the short, intermediate, and deep areas of the field and was the No. 1 target for Warner. He finished the game with a team leading seven receptions for 71 yards.
Offensive Line. The Temple offensive line was unable to get any push against the Zips as they rushed for only 73 yards on 25 attempts. That was good for an average of 2.92 yards per carry. This is going to be a problem for the Owls as Rutgers defensive line is a lot better than that for Akron. The Owls didn't give up any sacks, but I was also not impressed with the quality of the Akron pass rushers. I don’t think that the line will have as much success pass protecting against the like of Mo Toure, Kenny Fletcher, and Wesley Bailey.
Defense in the first half. In the first half of the game, the Temple defense did not look like a unit to be worried about. They were giving up rushing yards against a MAC level offensive line, and they were getting gouged by big plays. The first two scoring drives for Akron were the product of a completions of 77 and 50 yards. They also struggled to deal with the mobility of Irons in the first half. This could lead to a big day for Gavin Wimsatt as he has similar mobility to Irons. To their credit, Temple did improve drastically in the second half and not allow any scoring drives. However, only playing one good half of defense will not get it done against the Scarlet Knights.
In reviewing the film, the Temple skill positions and quarterback do cause me some concern for Rutgers. Temple definitely has the ability to put up points. However, I think the Scarlet Knights advantages in the trenches will be too big to overcome and Rutgers takes home the win.