Breaking Down Penn State’s ‘Stripe Out’ Showdown Against Temple

Examining Temple’s Defense

Star linebacker Tyler Matakevich, who almost single-handedly doubled up the rest of the Owl defense with 138 tackles, made the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 53-man roster. Temple does return last year’s second-leading tackler Jarred Alwan and fellow linebacker Avery Williams is off to a solid start with a team-high 14 tackles through two games.

James Franklin mentioned that the Army game film wasn’t very useful in judging what the Owls will draw up for Joe Moorhead’s spread offense, because the 28-13 loss to the Black Knights was against an option attack that only threw the ball twice. In his second year as head coach at Fordham in 2013, Moorhead left Lincoln Financial with the Rams’ first FBS victory since they reinstated football in 1970 — a 30-29 win over Temple. Franklin said during his Wednesday press conference that the Nittany Lions went back and spent a lot of time watching tape from that game.

Freshman defensive lineman Karamo Dioubate has three solo tackles in his debut season after flipping his verbal from Penn State to Matt Rhule’s Owls ahead of National Signing Day. The Philly native should see an increased role on defense Saturday in Beaver Stadium as Temple won’t hold anything back in pursuit of a second-straight win over the Nittany Lions.

Breaking Down Temple’s Offense

Temple’s offense has the ability to be dangerous, and it’s all thanks to senior quarterback Phillip Walker. The dual-threat star is the team’s heart and soul, and any success on the offensive front can be attributed to him. The Owls come off a significant victory over Stony Brook that saw Walker total only 124 yards through the air but still managed three touchdowns to one interception. Something to note is Walker’s completion percentage; Temple struggled to generate momentum through the air, and Walker’s 11-23 performance is reflected in that.

A major question mark for the Owls heading into one of their biggest games of the year is the health status of star running back Jahad Thomas who torched Penn State for 135 yards and two scores in 2015. Thomas has yet to play in 2016 after suffering an apparent hand injury in August. Sophomore running back Ryquell Armstead has 125 yards and two scores over the last two games, but expect freshman Isaiah Wright to also factor into the ground attack for the Owls. It’s looking like Thomas will be a game-time decision, but his absence would be a huge boost for a Penn State defense that’s struggled to stop the run.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Kieth Kirkwood hauled in two touchdown passes against Stony Brook, and he’ll be leaned on heavily if Thomas can’t play. At 6-foot-3, he’s a physically imposing presence. He’ll be a tough mismatch assignment lining up across from the 5-foot-10 John Reid. Junior receiver Adonis Jennings stands just as tall, and poses a similar threat. The deep ball should be in play for the Owls, and Penn State’s talented secondary is expected to be up to the task.

 

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