After last week’s 38-3 loss at Tulane, Temple had an even more formidable task against No. 18 SMU. After trailing, 13-10, at the half, SMU took control in for Saturday’s 47-23 win at Lincoln Financial Field. Here are some observations from the game
Owls got worn down
The Owls fought hard in taking their 13-10 halftime lead, but they wore down in the second half. It was a combination of lack of depth and SMU waking up. Plus, SMU quarterback Shane Buechele was a different player in the final two quarters (see below).
Ebiketie a dominant first half force
One of the few bright spots in last week’s loss was the play of Temple redshirt junior defensive end Arnold Ebiketie, who had seven tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack. SMU simply couldn’t block him in the first half. He had four tackles and a sack in the first half and forced Buchele out of the pocket a few times, forcing incomplete passes. One one play, when Manny Walker sacked Buchele, it was Ebiketie who slowed him up for Walker to clean up and earn the sack. Ebiketie was solid in the second half but lacked the big-play performance of the first two quarters.
Better line play
Last week, coach Rod Carey criticized both the offensive and defensive lines for being outplayed against Tulane. Both units responded. Led by Ebiketie, the defensive line was putting consistent pressure on Buechele.
One play in particular was impressive early in the second quarter, when 300-pound tackle Dan Archibong chased Buechele out of the pocket and forced an incomplete pass.
The offensive line allowed just one first-half sack, and the running backs averaged 3.9 yards per carry. The addition of guard Adam Klein, who missed the previous two games due to injury, gave the offensive line a major boost.
In the second half, both lines wore down, just like the rest of Temple’s units.
Temple quarterback Anthony Russo missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury. Carey said he would alternate Trad Beatty and Re-al Mitchell as he had last week, and he would stay with the hot hand.
Unlike last week, when Beatty and Mitchel alternated series, Carey stuck with Beatty for the first two possessions.
The first pass by Beatty was a great design. He threw a swing pass to Randle Jones, who made safety Chevin Callowy miss, got a good block from Branden Mack and was off to the races for a 75-yard score,
Offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich was attempting to get Beatty short throws to build his confidence .
Beatty had some other good throws, one a completion to Jadan Blue nullified by offensive pass interference. He also did well escaping the rush and threw well on the run. But after that first completion, he wasn’t able to lead a first-half score in his subsequent three series.
He got hurt late in the half and didn’t appear in the second half.
Mitchel made his first appearance in the third series and, just like Beatty, led the Owls to a touchdown, a 3-yard run by Tayvon Ruley. Mitchell had four carries for 24 yards, all on designed runs. It was apparent that the Owls were going to run Mitchell more, plus, just like Beatty, there were conservative short throws that Mitchell was able to execute.
In his second series, he didn’t get a first down and forced a third-down pass to Branden Mack that was broken up by Brandon Crossley. That was the end of his first-half work.
Due to an injury to Beatty, Mitchell quarterbacked the Owls for the second half. In the second series of the third quarter, he led the Owls to a field goal, running effectively but also making some timely completions, including a nice 6-yard touch pass to Mack on a fourth-and-4 play from the Temple 49.
Mitchell is dangerous running the ball but is also predictable. He has to show that he is can throw downfield, and that could come with more experience.
Temple and Mitchell did a nice job fighting by scoring on a late touchdown pass from Mitchell to Aaron Jarman.
Buchele not on target early
Last season Buechele threw for 457 yards and six scores in a 45-21 win over Temple. He wasn’t accurate early, missing two wide open receivers for what would have been touchdowns. The first came when he overthrew Austin Upshaw in the end zone and later he overthrew a wide open tight end Kylen Granson past midfield.
Picking it up in the second half
Buechele hit Tyler Page on a 44-yard scoring pass on the opening series of the third quarter. Page caught a short pass over the middle and was never touched in scoring his second touchdown. That started a big second half when Buechele was more accurate and a much different player than in the first half.
Hard running by Ruley
Ruley runs hard and breaks tackles inside. That was shown on the Owls' second scoring drive. He went up the middle for thee yards to get a first down to the Owls three, and then scored the touchdown on another hard run, splitting two tacklers and driving hard over the goal line. At 6-foot, 215 pounds, he has good power but also showed an ability to break outside.