Owls defense looks to bounce back against explosive Houston
The Owls are looking to rebound from a 52-40 loss at Central Florida, a game the defense allowed 630 total yards.
Temple head football coach Geoff Collins is known as a defensive expert so his pride and that of his team took a hit during last week's 52-40 loss at Central Florida in what was an American Athletic Conference first place showdown.
Yes, it came against the current No. 11 team in the nation, and one that extended its winning streak to 21 games. And UCF is now sixth nationally in scoring offense, averaging 45.4 points per game.
Still, Temple allowed 318 yards rushing and 312 passing and UCF zipped up and down the field at will.
When Collins looked at the tape, he saw a basic flaw on the defensive side.
"When we went back and did our self-scout of the game, it was the most missed tackles that we have [had] in a game and I think give credit to UCF because they have some dynamic and electric players but we kind of got lulled to sleep because we had played such really good defense, really hadn't missed many tackles on the season," Collins said during Tuesday's press conference.
This week it will be about bouncing back, but it won't easy since Temple's opponent Houston is averaging more points per game than UCF.
The Owls (5-4, 4-1 AAC) will visit a Houston team on Saturday that is fifth in the nation in scoring offense. Houston (7-2, 4-1) is averaging 47.7 points per game.
"Last week we didn't get the outcome we wanted," said Temple linebacker Shaun Bradley. "We face the same kind of offense and have a chance to redeem ourselves."
Temple last allowed at least 50 points on Oct. 26, 2013, in a 59-49 loss at SMU. That Temple team finished 2-10.
This Temple squad has bowl aspirations, and the Owls need to win one of their final three games to become bowl eligible.
Temple also has an outside chance at winning its division, but it's likely that the Owls will have to win their final three against Houston, South Florida (7-2, 3-2) and UConn (1-8, 0-5) and UCF would have to lose two of its final three to Navy (2-7, 1-4), Cincinnati (8-1, 4-1) and South Florida. Cincinnati, which Temple beat, is also in the running.
For the second week in a row, Temple will be facing one of the elite quarterbacks of the AAC, if not the country. Last week it was McKenzie Milton, who leads the AAC with 301.3 passing yards per game.
This week it is Houston's D'Eriq King, a converted wide receiver, who leads the AAC in total offense, 338.2 yards per game (with Milton second).
King has rushed for 467 yards (5.7 avg.) and 12 touchdowns. He leads the nation in points responsible per game (28.2).
Unlike UCF, Houston proved to beatable, losing last week, 45-31 at SMU.
The Cougars now will be playing in front of a homecoming crowd. In addition, Temple has never beaten the Cougars, having gone 0-6 including last year's 20-13 loss at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Owls can't worry about last year or even last week, only about finding a way to rebound defensively.
"We didn't perform up to our standards last week," said senior cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, Temple's top NFL prospect. "We are ready to flush it out and get to play somebody else and get that bad taste out of our mouths."