The Temple Owls will put their unbeaten — well, 1-0 — record on the line Saturday when they host Maryland at noon at Lincoln Financial Field.
Here are five things to watch:
Maryland has recorded 12 sacks in two games. Eight came in a 79-0 opening win over Howard, with the other four coming in last week’s 63-20 pounding of Syracuse.
Temple has true sophomores Adam Klein (6-foot-5, 295 pounds) and Isaac Moore (6-7, 305) playing the tackle positions. Temple will face some tough rushers, including two who like to come from the outside. One is linebacker Keandre Jones, an Ohio State transfer who had two sacks against Syracuse.
Graduate transfer Shaq Smith (6-2, 251), from Clemson, is an athletic lineman who can get to the quarterback. Smith plays what is known as the “jack” position, a hybrid linebacker position in which he at times comes to the line and rushes the quarterback.
Temple’s inside blockers, guards Jovahn Fair and Vincent Picozzi and center Matt Hennessy, are the strength of the line and should make it difficult for Maryland to get a push up the middle, but rushing the quarterback from the outside bears watching.
Russo talked this week about how Maryland plays a lot of man-to-man defense. So receivers Isaiah Wright, Branden Mack, and Jaden Blue must get separation.
It will also be key if tight end Kenny Yeboah can return from injury. He missed about three weeks, including the opening 56-12 win over Bucknell. Yeboah (6-5, 240) is a former receiver and should be able to get separation, if healthy. Coach Rod Carey thinks Yeboah could be available but wonders how much rust he will have to shake off.
Yeboah, who scored on a 47-yard TD reception from Russo in last year’s win at Maryland, could give the offense a major boost, especially if Maryland stays predominantly in a man-to-man coverage.
Last year, Maryland had a highly regarded running game entering its matchup with Temple but was held to 132 yards and most of them came when the game was out of hand. Maryland was just 1-for-12 on third-down conversions.
Sophomore Anthony McFarland is the key player among a deep running-back group for Maryland. Last year, he rushed for 107 yards on 11 carries against Temple. Against Syracuse, he ran for 77 yards (5.4 avg.) and two touchdowns. He was the third-leading rusher on his team, which shows its depth.
On the other end, Carey said the key is to run the ball and control the clock, giving the potent Maryland offense less time on the field. Freshman Re’Mahn Davis, who rushed for 60 yards (6.7 avg.) and a TD against Bucknell, is Temple’s most explosive runner, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he easily tops the nine carries he had in the opener.
Last year, two Maryland quarterbacks combined to throw for 63 yards against Temple. This year, redshirt junior Josh Jackson, a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech, has played well in his first two games at quarterback.
Against Syracuse, he completed 21 of 38 passes for 296 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He had been a starter at Virginia Tech before suffering a season-ending broken fibula in the third game of last season.
Jackson has poise in the pocket and is a good decision maker. He gives the Terps a passing dimension they sorely lacked last year.
The Bucknell quarterbacks were on the run a lot, but Temple recorded only two sacks against the Bison. The Owls will need to put more pressure on Jackson. Redshirt junior defensive end Quincy Roche (6-4, 235) had a quiet day against Bucknell. He is Temple’s most explosive pass rusher, and his ability to put heat on Jackson will be a key.
Saturday, noon, Lincoln Financial Field
TV/radio: CBS Sports Network/97.5 The Fanatic.
Records: Maryland, 2-0; Temple 1-0.
Coaches: Maryland, Mike Locksley (2-0; overall, 5-31); Temple, Rod Carey (1-0; overall, 53-30).
Last meeting: Sept. 15, 2018, Temple won, 35-14, at Maryland.