FACTS & STATS: Site: Rentschler Field (40,000) — East Hartford, Connecticut.
Television: ESPNews. Home Record: Temple 1-1, UConn 1-2. Away Record: Temple
1-0, UConn 0-1. Neutral Record: Temple 0-0, UConn 0-0. Conference Record:
Temple 0-0, UConn 0-1. Series Record: Temple leads, 9-5.
GAME NOTES: The Temple Owls will try to build on a solid start to the campaign
when they open up American Athletic Conference play against the Connecticut
Huskies this Saturday at Rentschler Field.
UConn already got its league slate underway, facing South Florida in Tampa
last weekend. The Huskies are returning home disappointed, however, after
dropping a 17-14 decision to the Bulls. The setback was the third in four
games for the Huskies, whose only win this season came in a 19-16 final
against FCS foe Stony Brook.
Temple had a light week for its third game of the year, as it easily
dispatched with FCS member Delaware State, 59-0. The Owls are now 2-1 after
splitting games against Vanderbilt (37-7) and Navy (31-24) to kick off the
This marks the third straight season in which these teams have met as
conference foes. Last year, UConn pulled out a 28-21 victory for its first win
of the season, in conference or otherwise. The Owls still lead the all-time
series though, 9-5.
Temple has really been racking up the points, despite failing to really
impress on the offensive side of the ball. The Owls are fourth in the AAC in
scoring (40 ppg), but they are just seventh in total offense, posting a
lackluster 366 yards per game. Even in the 59-point eruption against Delaware
State, the Owls only finished with 351 yards of total offense.
There was a tremendous amount of pressure placed on quarterback P.J. Walker
entering this season after he really opened eyes in 2013. Walker has not
exactly lived up to the expectations, averaging just 191.3 passing yards per
game. He has completed just under 64 percent of his pass attempts and has
twice as many touchdown passes (six) as interceptions (three). He has also
picked up 92 yards and a score on the ground.
A trio of running backs generally take care of the rushing portion of the
offensive game plan. Jamie Gilmore leads the team in rushing yards (126),
while Kenneth Harper is high man in carries (25). Unfortunately, Harper has
managed just 89 yards. Jahad Thomas (101 yards) also has more than 20 carries
under his belt.
Harper has provided a decent receiving option out of the backfield, with 83
yards and a score on 11 receptions. Nate Hairston also has 11 grabs, netting
only 71 yards. Jalen Fitzpatrick (13 receptions, 180 yards, three TDs) is the
real threat on the outside, leading the team in just about every receiving
The most impressive part of Temple’s defense has been its ability to create
turnovers, coming up with 14 (eight fumbles, six interceptions). They forced
only 13 turnovers all of last season. In terms of more traditional defensive
statistics the Owls have also been stellar, ranking first in the AAC in total
defense (296 ypg) and points allowed (12.7 ppg), although playing Delaware
State certainly helped those numbers.
Tyler Matakevich leads the unit with 19 tackles, although he is far off the
pace he set last season when he finished with 137 stops. Sharif Finch has only
seven tackles, but 3.5 of those have been for loss. He also has an
interception and one of the team’s six sacks.
UConn has been nowhere near the offensive team that Temple has this season.
The Huskies are averaging a miserable 16 points per game, while ranking right
near the bottom of the FBS in total offense (253 ypg).
Having to change quarterbacks early on has not helped matters, with the
Huskies turning to Chandler Whitmer after starter Casey Cochran was lost for
the season. Whitmer, who had starting experience prior to this year, has
played in all four games, but managed only 552 yards on 50.6 percent passing.
He also has four touchdowns against only two interceptions.
One of the hidden gems in the AAC is wide receiver Geremy Davis, who leads the
Huskies in receptions (17), receiving yards (288) and touchdowns (three),
despite the lack of a consistent presence under center. Deshon Foxx (11
receptions, 151 yards) is also a threat, but he is the only other player on
the roster with more than six receptions.
Running the ball has been a constant struggle for the Huskies as well, with
the team averaging just two yards per carry. Max DeLorenzo (140 yards) and
Arkeel Newsome (66 yards) are the best they have to offer at running back.
The anemic play of the offense has wiped out any benefits the Huskies have
gotten from their solid defensive effort. UConn is allowing just 26.5 points
and 344 yards per game, while allowing only 10 visits to the red zone.
Marquise Vann (43 tackles, 4.0 TFL) and Graham Stewart (34 tackles, 4.0 TFL)
are both hard-hitting defenders, and the duo has combined for eight of the
team’s 25 tackles for loss, which ranks second in the AAC.
This game will give Temple a good idea of how good it actually is on offense
as it faces a solid UConn defense. Walker is obviously still developing, but
he is a much better option than the quarterback he faces in Whitmer. Expect a
close one, but a game the Owls will find a way to win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Temple 27, Connecticut 23