When Temple football coach Matt Rhule views his opening opponent, Army, he sees a mirror image of his program in 2013.
Army is coming off a 2-10 season and will face the Owls at 7 p.m. Friday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Temple was 2-10 in Rhule's first season. Last season, Army lost five games by five points or fewer. In 2013, Temple dropped four games by three points or fewer.
So even though the Owls are coming off a 10-4 season, the last thing the players and Rhule are doing is taking the Black Knights lightly, even though Temple has won the last six meetings between the two.
"They remind me a lot of us two years ago getting ready to play Vanderbilt," Rhule said, "knowing they have a good football team but having to overcome a few hurdles."
After that 2-10 season, Temple opened at Vanderbilt the next year and pounded the Commodores, 37-7, en route to a 6-6 season. The Owls continued to improve last year, when they tied the school record for wins.
Rhule said Army would come out of the bus blitzing and a key will be how the Owls handle it, not only this game but all season.
"The people who gave us the most trouble last year against our offense were the people who came out and just blitzed us," Rhule said. "When you are getting blitzed, your imperfections show."
The Black Knights present legitimate worries by running the triple-option, an attack Temple last saw in a 31-24 loss to visiting Navy in 2014.
Army coach Jeff Monken has named junior Ahmad Bradshaw the starter at quarterback. Bradshaw started seven games last year and rushed for 436 yards and five touchdowns.
Sophomore Chris Carter, who has been hampered by a hamstring injury but has been practicing, could also see time against Temple.
The Owls feel fortunate in opening against a triple-option attack, because they have more time to prepare for it.
Linebacker Avery Williams said the biggest difficultly in defending the triple-option is the blocking scheme.
"It is probably the cut block because you don't see it every day," Williams said. "It is not regular football just to get cut on every play."
Army has a lack of size up front, so execution will be the key for the Black Knights. Army's projected starting offensive line averages 262 pounds. Temple's projected defensive line averages 272. The biggest projected Temple starter up front is defensive tackle Freddie Booth-Lloyd (6-foot-1, 315).
It's the other side of the ball that worries Monken. Temple's projected starting offensive line averages 308.2 pounds. Army's biggest defensive player is junior nose guard Andrew McLean (6-4, 272). The Black Knights play a 3-4 defense.
"You are not going to move those guys around," Monken said about the Temple offensive line. "You have to create ways to get by them and force them to double-team a guy to free somebody up."