Working on a short week and playing on the road, Temple opens its American Athletic Conference schedule against East Carolina on Thursday night.
Both teams are coming off wins, with Temple beating Georgia Tech, 24-2, on Saturday, and ECU winning at Old Dominion, 24-21. Temple won last year’s meeting, 49-6 at Lincoln Financial Field, but this should be a much-more competitive game.
Here are five things to watch
Temple’s continued strong emphasis on the running game
The Owls rushed for a season-high 195 yards on 49 carries in Saturday’s 24-2 win over Georgia Tech. Freshman Re’Mahn Davis had 29 carries for 135 yards and two scores. He got more action down the stretch, after redshirt senior Jager Gardner (18 carries, 69 yards) got banged up. Temple coach Rod Carey says Gardner will be ready to go. ECU is allowing 151.4 rushing yards per game, so it wouldn’t be surprising for Temple to continue emphasizing the run.
ECU receiver Blake Proehl
The son of former NFL receiver Ricky Proehl, the 6-foot-1, 186-pound sophomore leads the Pirates in receptions (20) and receiving yards (283) and is tied for the team lead with two touchdown receptions. In last week’s win at Old Dominion, he had the best game of his young career with two receptions for 100 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown.
Temple quarterback Anthony Russo has continued to have a problem with interceptions. He threw one last week with the Owls in the red zone. Russo has thrown 10 touchdown passes on the season, but six interceptions. Meanwhile ECU has intercepted five passes in five games, with outside linebacker Gerard Stringer and cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian with two apiece. ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers has thrown five interceptions in five games.
ECU is 2-0 at home this season and has won its last three at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Temple is 0-1 in its only road game, losing at Buffalo, 38-22, on Sept. 21. ECU will be having a black-out, with students and team dressed in black. Throw in the fact that the game will be on ESPN, and the crowd will be boisterous. How Temple handles the crowd will be a key. One way to quiet the crowd is to get off to a quick start. Temple has scored first in all four of its games.
Temple’s defensive line
The Owls will play the first half without defensive tackle Dan Archibong, who was ejected in the second half of the Georgia Tech win and must sit out the first half. Archibong (6-6, 300) has been strong against the run, so the Owls will need to make up for his absence. Look for Karamo Dioubate to start in his place, along with Ifeanyi Maijeh, who has been the Owls best defensive lineman, with 6.5 tackles for loss, including four sacks, both team highs. Owls redshirt junior Quincy Roche, who has two sacks, has yet to have a breakout game. He was recently awarded a single-digit (No. 9) jersey for his toughness and dedication to the program. In last year’s win over ECU, he started but had no tackles, so Roche will be looking to make amends against the Pirates.
Temple at ECU
Thursday, 8 p.m. Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, N.C.
TV/Radio: ESPN/97.5 The Fanatic.
Records: Temple, 3-1, 0-0 American Athletic Conference; ECU, 3-2, 0-1.
Coaches: Temple, Rod Carey (3-1; overall, 55-31); ECU, Mike Houston (3-2; overall, 83-27).
Series: Tied 8-8.