Head-to-head: Army vs. Temple

The Army Black Knights (3-7) travel to Philadelphia to play the Temple Owls (6-4). The Black Knights battled Rutgers deep into the fourth quarter before a blocked punt was returned for a touchdown by Rutgers. The 27-12 defeat ended Army's bowl hopes. The Temple Owls enter the game coming off a victory over Miami (Ohio) 24-21 to improve their record to 6-4.

The Owls became bowl eligible for a third consecutive year. Temple is led by first year coach Steve Addazio who was hired after Al Golden left for Miami. This is the fifth consecutive year Army and Temple will play. Temple has won the last three games.

Army rushing offense
Temple rushing defense
Army enters the Temple game leading the nation in rushing, averaging over 352 rushing yards per game, but with questions regarding who will start at quarterback and A-back. Sophomore A-back Raymond Maples is still questionable to return to the starting lineup this week after missing the Rutgers game with a concussion. Maples was injured late last week in practice when he ran helmet first into his own offensive linemen in practice. He has experienced headaches this week and his status is a game day decision. Maples has rushed for over 100 yards five times this year. Maples (891 rushing yards, 7.4 avg., 4TDs) is on pace for a thousand yard rushing season if he is healthy enough to play. Plebe quarterback Angel Santiago is currently expected to start his second consecutive game Santiago did a good job running the offense last week against a very fast and physical Rutgers defense. Angel rushed for 30 times for 72 yards and did a solid job running the offense. Trent Steelman (576 rushing yards, 11 TDs) has missed the last three games with a high ankle sprain but is close to returning. He practiced this Wednesday for the first time since he was injured against Vanderbilt and moved well. Considering how tough Trent is, he will be hard to keep out of the lineup if he can play.

Freshman B-back Larry Dixon (435 yards, 6.5 avg., 4 TDs) burst free for a 55-yard gain on Army's opening drive against Rutgers to set up a field goal. Fellow B-back Jared Hassin (411 yards, 4.8 avg., 1 TD) ran hard inside last week against Rutgers. Malcolm Brown (429 yards, 6.7 avg., 2 TDs) led the team in rushing last year against Temple when he ran for 71 yards. Plebe Stephen Fraser (3 att., 13 yards) made his first career start last week against Rutgers and saw 42 yards of his 52 yard run off an option pitch wiped out by Frank Allen's tripping penalty. Terry Baggett is once again practicing after missing four games with a leg injury. He should be available Saturday if needed. Baggett is a direct admit who has played in three games this year. Terry has carried the ball 10 times for 53 yards and one TD.

Temple has a very physical and stingy 4-3 defense. The Owls run defense is ranked 14th in the nation. The Owls are one of the toughest teams in the nation to move the ball and score on. Temple ranks 13th in the country, allowing only 306 yards of total offense per game. Temple allows just 14.6 points per game which is the fourth best total in the nation. The Owls best defensive player is defensive end Adrian Robinson. He is a two-time first-team All-MAC honoree and was the 2009 MAC Defensive Player of the Year. This season Robinson has 42 tackles and eleven tackles for loss. Mike linebacker Stephen Johnson leads the team with 83 tackles and has forced two fumbles. Outside linebacker Tahir Whitehead has 45 tackles for 11 tackles for loss. Ahkeem Smith, a converted running back, registered six tackles and forced a fumble last week in his first start at the other outside linebacker post.
Army passing offense
Temple passing defense
Angel Santiago threw the ball well in his first start as Army quarterback. Santiago completed 6 of 15 passes for 77 yards. Santiago completed a short six yard pass to Davyd Brooks on his first attempt during Army's second drive that produced a field goal. The following series Santiago threw a 13-yard completion to Malcolm Brown, followed by a 23-yard completion to Brooks to convert consecutive third downs. Angel threw his best pass of the game when he completed a 17-yard rope to Brown (2 rec., 30 yards) to convert a third-and-7 yard situation for a first down to set up Army's final touchdown. Santiago made a number of throws that gave Army receivers a chance to make a play on the ball while avoiding having any passes picked off by a Rutgers ball-hawking secondary. If Steelman is cleared to play it will provide a huge boost to the team. Last year Steelman threw for 124 yards and a score and ran for four touchdowns against Temple at Michie Stadium. Davyd Brooks (7 rec., 130 yards, 18.6 avg., 1 TD in 2011) was Santiago's favorite target last week. C-back Malcolm Brown (6 catches, 138 yards, 1 TD) has the best hands on the team.

Temple defense is ranked 30th in the nation in pass defense. The Owls recorded seven sacks and forced three turnovers against Miami (Ohio) last week. Robinson, a senior, leads the team with six sacks. Defensive end Morkeith Brown moved back from tight end this spring. Brown has made 28 tackles, four sacks and forced a fumble. Outside linebacker Tahir Whitehead is a play maker with five sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Senior free safety Kevin Kroboth has 53 tackles, two interceptions and five pass defensed. Strong safety junior Justin Gildea has made 38 tackles and a team leading three interceptions. Temple's secondary has struggled in coverage at times in the wide open pass happy MAC conference. Their fierce pass rush usually bails them out.
Temple rushing offense
Army rushing defense
Temple's super star junior running back Bernard Pierce is expected to play after sitting out last week with a concussion. Pierce has rushed for 1,035 yards, averaged 5.1 yards a carry and scored 19 rushing touchdowns this year. Pierce has been an impact player since his freshman year for the Owls. The only weakness in his game is that he has been injury-prone. As a freshman Pierce was running wild early against Army until Andrew Rodriguez knocked him out of the game with a huge hit. Pierce's missed last year's game against Army. When Pierce is out, as Army learned last year, the Owls don't lose much when backup Matt Brown carries the ball. Brown ran for 226 yards and four scores against the Black Knights last year. Last week Brown ran for 123 yards and one TD against Miami (Ohio). Brown has rushed for 702 yards this season with three rushing touchdowns. To make matters worse for Army's run defense, Temple has made redshirt quarterback Chris Coyer their new starting quarterback. Last week Coyer, is very fast and an elusive runner, ran for 97 yards and scored a touchdown. Coyer has rushed 44 times for 450 yards, averaging 10.2 a carry, and has scored three touchdowns. Coyer had a 74 yard touchdown run against Ball State. Temple's offensive line is huge and averages 6-5, 319 pounds.

Army's run defense has posted three impressive back-to-back performances. They shutout Fordham in the snow. They held Air Force rushing attack to 179 rushing yards which is well below their season average of 326 rushing yards per game. Last week, Army was holding Rutgers to just 62 yards on 25 carries until Jawan Jameson broke a 56-yard touchdown run with under two minutes left in the game. This game will be even a bigger test. Temple ran all over Army last year at Michie Stadium when the defense was better and still had Stephan Anderson, Mike Gann and Josh McNary.

Rover and team captain Steve Erzinger leads the team with 85 tackles. He has posted 7.5 tackles for loss and leads the team with three sacks. Erzinger is one of only two returning defensive players who started against Temple last year. Defensive tackles A.J. Mackey (32 tackles, 6.5 for loss, a quarterback hurry) has played his best football the last three games. He'll need another big effort this Saturday. Freshman Jacob Drozd has started the last four games at defensive tackle. Drozd (10 tackles, 2 sacks) is a very good athlete who won the Connecticut state's decathlon in high school. He played defensive end last year at the prep school but was moved inside to tackle. The defense has improved after he earned his starting spot.
Temple passing offense
Army passing defense
Temple's passing game has been their Achilles' heel the past few years. Head coach Steve Addazio benched ineffective fifth-year senior quarterback Chester Stewart (649 yards, 62.3% , 2 TDs, 2 INTs) and replace him with lefty red-shirt sophomore Chris Coyer. The mobile Coyer is a better fit for Addazio's spread offense. Last week Coyer passed for 92 yards and a touchdown. He did overthrow several open receivers on deep routes. This season Coyer has completed 18 of 33 passes for 215 yards (54.5%) with four touchdown passes and no interceptions. Temple's leading receiver is Evan Rodriguez who has 30 receptions for 385 and two scores. Joe Jones (23 rec, 225 yards, 9.8 avg., 2 TDs) works mostly underneath running short routes. Deon Miller (16 rec, 209 yards, 13.1 avg., 3TDs) and Rod Streater (15 rec., 305 yards, 20.3 avg., 2 TDs) are big, fast receivers that can stretch the field.

Army needs to pressure yet contain the mobile Coyer at quarterback. Plebe strong safety Hayden Pierce (32 tackles) will be out again this week after being injured against Air Force. Kyler Martin started his second consecutive game at strong safety and is playing very well. Martin made six tackles and picked off a pass versus the Scarlet Knights. Free safety Thomas Holloway was named FBS Independent Co-defensive player of the week after intercepting a pass and posting 14 tackles against Rutgers. Josh Jackson, Army's best cornerback had an awful day last week Jackson was beat for both touchdown passes. Jackson (5 tackles) was overmatched trying to cover Rutgers star wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. Freshman cornerback Lamar Johnson-Harris (19 tackles, 1 INT) competed against Rutgers much larger receivers. LJ refused to allow the big Rutgers receivers dominate him. Johnson-Harris was able to get away with a push against Coleman in the end zone. He forced him to land out of bounds denying Rutgers a touchdown and any points on a drive, when the ensuing field goal attempt was missed. Last season Army's secondary had trouble dealing with Temple's size and strength at wide receiver.
Special Teams
Junior punter and kicker Brandon McManus has kicked well for the Owls. McManus is a Ray Guy Award candidate which is the award is given to the nation's best punter. McManus, who had three punts land inside the Miami (Ohio) 10-yard line last game. He is averaging 46.2 yards on his 40 punts and has landed 14 of his punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line. McManus is 11 for 17 on field goal tries and has hit all 36 of his extra point attempts. Matt Brown is a dangerous return man. Brown averages 23.4 yards on his kickoff returns and 9.7 yards on his punt returns. Temple's special teams and coverage units have played well and made plays the last few years.

Army punter Chis Boldt (42.8 per punt) had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown last week. Eric Osteen continues to hit the ball well on his kickoffs. Josh Jackson (3.7 avg.) has seen limited room on punt returns the last month. Scott Williams (21.4 yard avg. KOR) had a 36-yard kickoff return against Rutgers. Alex Carlton made two field goals but banged an extra point off the upright taking the wind out of the team's sails. Army has done an excellent job covering punts and kickoffs all year.
Temple's new head coach Steve Addazio was on Urban Meyer's staff when Florida won two BCS National Championships. Addazio served as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator for the Gators during the 2010 season before being named to replace Al Golden. Addazio has won the old fashion way this year with an excellent running game, a very good run defense and solid special teams. Addazio defense has held opponents to seven points or less in five games this year.

Rich Ellerson and his staff have been able to get their young team refocused and back on track after difficult losses this season. For the third straight game Army's defense did a nice job against the run after being run over most of the season. Coach Smeland and Saadat deserve a ton of credit for how they continue to coach up their young unit. Coach Saadat's fiery presence on the sidelines keeps his charges in the game. ----------------------------------------------------
While Temple is bowl eligible the Owls must win out to make a bowl appearance. Temple is a small school that doesn't travel well and has attendance issues. Last year the Owls won eight games but didn't earn a bowl invitation. They will be motivated to win their last two games and earn a MAC automatic bowl bid. The Black Knights are winless on the road this year. Army is 0-3 against the MAC and have been outscored 132-75.

PREDICTION: Temple, 31-24. Army can win this game, especially if Trent Steelman, is healthy enough to play. Army's offense moved the ball last year against a Temple defense which had two future NFL draftees in the lineup. Army defense has played well the last few weeks but Temple size and running game pose challenges. The Owls ran over a better Army defense last year and that was without Pierce.

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