Head-to-head: Army vs. Temple

Temple travels to Michie Stadium to take on Army on Saturday. The Owls visit Michie after a tough loss against Penn State, 22-13. Temple kept the Nittany Lions out of the end zone until the last few minutes of the game. Army broke a 17-game losing streak on the road against ACC teams when they dominated Duke, 35-21. Last year Temple defeated Army in Philadelphia, 27-13.

ARMY
EDGE
AREA
Temple
EDGE
COMMENTS
EVEN  
Army rushing offense
vs.
Temple rushing defense
EVEN  
Army enters the game ranked eighth in nation averaging over 274 yards on the ground a game. The Black Knights took advantage of great field position to rush for three touchdowns against Duke. The B backs have struggled the last two games finding running room inside on the fullback dive and midline option. Jared Hassin has split time the last few weeks with Jacob Bohn. Hassin is battling through injuries and lack the explosiveness he showed the first two weeks of the season. While the middle has been tough sledding, Army has utilized its new fly sweep play to great effect. Perimeter blocking by slot backs and wide receivers has been vastly improved from last year. Slot back Brian Cobbs scored the first two touchdowns of his career against Duke and had a third called back on a penalty. Malcolm Brown, who rushed for 48 yards on nine carries against Duke, has been very productive this year. Senior Pat Mealy is expected to play after sitting out last week. Plebe slot backs Raymond Maples and Jon Crucitti have been impressive. Both ran for over 40 yards and blocked well in the win over Duke. Trent Steelman led all rushers against Duke with 69 yards on 18 carries and scored one touchdown. In last year loss against Temple he posted remarkably similar numbers rushing for 67 yards on nineteen carries. Temple is ranked 73rd in nation in rush defense but they've been more impressive than that number suggests. The defensive line is the strength of their team and the reason the Temple's defense has allowed only 18 points per game this season. Last week in Happy Valley against Penn State they kept the Nittany Lions out of the end zone till very late in the fourth quarter. Senior Nose tackle Eli Joseph had the best game of his career as he recorded ten tackles against Penn State. The Owls have some big time talent up front in junior defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson (6-5, 305) and junior rush end Adrian Robinson (6-2, 250). Both are considered legitimate NFL caliber prospects. Wilkerson has recorded 22 tackles and two sacks so far this season. Robinson was MAC defensive player of the year when he recorded 13 sacks as a sophomore. This year Robinson has faced double teams in posting 13 tackles and a sack. Temple likes to utilize their depth and rotate their defensive front to keep players fresh. The Owl linebackers are very athletic. Elijah Joseph, 28 tackles and junior linebacker Tahir Whitehead who had 9 tackles against Penn State can really run to the ball. Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio has a lot of experience defending option teams.  
EVEN  
Army passing offense
vs.
Temple passing defense
EVEN  
Army took advantage of Duke trying to flood the box with two big play action passes in the second half that produced touchdowns. Trent Steelman completed 4 of 6 passes for 85 yards and his first two touchdowns of the year. Steelman's first touchdown pass was a perfectly executed wheel route, off of play action, that Maples caught and ran in for a 34-yard touchdown. Steelman had both Davyd Brooks open deep and Maples on that route. Austin Barr (3 catches for 51 yards 1 TD) had the best game of his career. Barr's 31 yard touchdown catch was the first touchdown of his Army career. Wide receiver Davyd Brooks left the Duke game with muscle cramps but is expected to play. Trent Steelman had one of the best passing games of his career against Temple last year. He completed all five pass attempts and threw a touchdown pass. The best player in the Temple secondary is first team All-MAC free safety Jaiquawn Jarrett. The New York native has the ability to play on Sundays. The hard hitting safety is tied for the Owl's lead in tackles. Converted running backs Kee-ayre Griffen and senior Marquise Liverpool are the cornerbacks. Both have one interception this year. Temple has struggled generating pressure with just three sacks this year as teams have double teamed Robinson  
 
Temple rushing offense
vs.
Army rushing defense
 
The man that makes the Temple offense go is super sophomore running back Bernard Pierce. Pierce rushed for 1,361 yards and 16 TDs last year and was named MAC Freshman of the Year. In 2010 Pierce has averaged over 5.2 yards a carry, run for 343 yards and scored five touchdowns. Pierce was injured on a run in the third quarter with Nittany Lions and appears to have suffered a high ankle sprain that most likely will keep him out of Saturday's contest. Temple is a different team when Pierce is healthy. Against Penn State with him running the ball Temple led, 13-9. After his injury the Owls struggled to move the ball. Pierce was the difference in Temple's victory over Army last year. Pierce gave the Army defense fits until an Andrew Rodriguez hit late in second quarter knocked him out of the game. With Pierce probably out, expect sophomore scatback Matt Brown and Ahkeem Smith to share the ball. Brown is only five feet five inches tall and weighs just 170 pounds. Brown is fast and has rushed 40 times for 176 yards and a touchdown. Smith has only one carry for three yards this year but will probably help the undersized Brown out on short yardage. Temple offensive line is massive. They average 318 pounds across their front five. They employee a zone blocking scheme which allows the Temple backs to find cut back lanes. The strength of the Owl offensive line is the right side with All-MAC right guard Colin Madison and All-MAC right tackle Darius Morris. These two are physically imposing road graders. Army's rush defense did a terrific job limiting the running game of both North Texas and Duke the last two weeks. The caveat is both of those teams are passing teams that tried to force their passing games against the flex and lost. This week Temple is a smash mouth, power running team. They come right at you. Army ranks a respectable 45th in nation in run defense but they have allowed 4.4 yards a carry. Army has faced only one pure running team this year, Eastern Michigan, in the opener, and allowed the Eagles 285 rushing yards. It will be interesting to see how new bandit tackle Jarrett Mackey matches up against Temple. Mackey is quick but is a lot smaller than last year's starting defensive tackle Victor Ugenyi who was very strong at the point of attack. Army allowed 5.9 yards a carry to Pierce last year. After Rodriguez knocked him out of the game his replacements only produced 3.2 yards a carry. The double eagle flex is usually a very good running stopping defense. The Black Knights run defense will be tested against Temple's huge offensive line. In my opinion the game will probably be decided on who wins this match up.  
 
Temple passing offense
vs.
Army passing defense
 
Temple has a new quarterback this year in redshirt junior Chester Stewart. Temple had the 111th passing game in the nation last year. Under Stewart's direction they have continued to struggle averaging less than 140 passing yards a game. Stewart has completed 57.3% of his passes throwing 556 yards and two touchdowns and three interceptions. Senior Michael Campbell is the Owl's most experienced receiver and leads the team with ten catches for 142 yards and one touchdown. Unlike the last few years Temple doesn't have a big play receiver. Stewart had no interceptions before the Penn State game. After Pierce's injury he was called on to make plays and couldn't. Steward finished the day completing just 8 of 19 attempts for only 46 yards. Stewart had four costly turnovers. The Temple huge offensive line has its drawbacks in that it's not very athletic. The Owl's rank 95th in the country in sacks allowed. After facing three prolific passing teams Army will face a team those passing game acts more as a compliment to its power running game. Army has a big advantage over Temple when they can force them to pass. The Owls have speed but no true big play receivers and the offensive line struggles to protect Stewart. The double eagle flex produced five sacks in last year's game. Last year Temple couldn't block Josh McNary who had four sacks for a negative 38 yards. Stephen Anderson had the other sack on a blitz. The Black Knights have forced 12 turnovers in four games. If Army can limit the Temple running game and force third and long you have to like the Black Knight's chances.  
Special Teams
 
Temple kicker Brandon McManus has hit 7 of 10 field goal attempts this year. He has two clutch game winning kicks this year. Jeff Wathne is a solid punter averaging 40.9 per punt. The Temple return teams under Al Golden have been exceptional. Senior Delano Green (8.8 per return in 2010) returned two punts for touchdown last year. Green had a 50-yard punt return against Army in 2008. Junior James Nixon (22.8 yards per KOR in 2010) can flat out fly and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns last year. Nixon's had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last year in an upset win over Navy. Army punter Jonathan Bulls has been solid averaging 38.7 per punt. Bulls has placed six punts inside the 20 and has limited punt returns. Army continues to do a terrific job on punt coverage. Place kicker Alex Carlton's struggles continue as his only field goal attempt was blocked against Duke. For the year Carlton has hit just two of his six field goal attempts. Matt Campbell actually had a touchback against Duke. His normally short kickoffs can be problematic against the Owl's Nixon. Josh Jackson has showed good speed and reliable hands on punt and kickoff returns.  
EVEN  
Coaching
EVEN  
Rich Ellerson and the staff had a tremendous defensive game plan prepared against Duke. Army employed a Cover 1 most of the game and took away the inside slants that are the featured part of Duke's game plan. Army defense either forced a punt or turnover in three downs or less on seven of the Blue Devils first eight possessions. Duke was a team that entered the game ranked 19th in the country in passing offense. Army improvement in team speed was noticeable against Duke. They were playing an ACC team and more than matched up against them athletically Al Golden has done a terrific job building this program the last four years. This may be the most talented team Army faces this year. Golden is a Joe Paterno disciple. His teams play hardnosed, physical football.  
 
Intangibles
 
With super sophomore halfback Bernard Pierce on the sidelines the Temple offense not only loses their best player but also their swagger on the offensive side of the ball. They are a different team when Pierce is out. I'm not sure if Chester Stewart will have the confidence and ability to move the Owls consistently through the air if they struggle on the ground. Army is 3-1 and their confidence is sky high coming home. This will be far and away their toughest challenge.  

PREDICTION: Army, 24-20. If Bernard Pierce was healthy I think the Owls would win. However, last year against Army and in their bowl loss to UCLA and last Saturday they looked like a totally different team without Pierce. The Black Knights will have slotback Pat Mealy back in action. Temple is a lot more talented than any team Army has faced. The combined records of Army's 2010 opponents so far is 4-12 but at home without Pierce I think Army can pull an upset.

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