Army visits Temple on Saturday in Philadelphia. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler compares the two teams in several critical areas. We also make a prediction on the game's final score.
ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
TEMPLE PASSING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Army's quarterback Angel Santiago completed 5-of-7 passes for 38 passing yards against EMU. He was very efficient making short throws to move the chains and keep drives alive. Xavier Moss has developed into the impact wide receiver ArmySports.com predicted in our Incoming plebe series. Moss has 18 receptions for 258 yards, a 14.3 average and a touchdown. Chevaughn Lawrence (6 rec., 63 yards, 1 TD) set up a touchdown last year against Temple with a 47-yard reception. Army's offensive line is ranked 19th in sacks allowed but 113th in sack percentage allowed. The Black Knights need to move the ball on the ground and avoid obvious passing downs.
Temple's defense is ranked 120th in the nation in pass defense. The Owls are allowing over 318 passing yards per game. Senior free safety Abdul Smith has posted 42 tackles. Temple has no interceptions this year. Sophomore defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis leads the Owls with three sacks. Temple's cornerbacks senior Zamel Johnson (17 tackles) and junior Anthony Robey (25 tackles) are both two year starters. Each has struggled covering receivers the last few years.
ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
TEMPLE RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: The Black Knights now lead the nation in rushing after posting an amazing season high 513 yards and seven rushing touchdowns against Eastern Michigan. Running back Terry Baggett set a Black Knight single-game rushing record with 304 rushing yards. He scored on runs of 4, 67, 34 and 96 yards. Baggett's third-quarter 96-yard scoring run was the second longest run in Academy history. Terry moved into the top-10 nationally in rushing yards with 744 rushing yards after last week's game. Quarterback Angel Santiago (402 rushing yards, 3.9 avg., 4 TDs) was limited by his sore ankle. He lacked his usual quickness but did a superb job of managing the offense and distributing the ball. The Black Knights haven't turned the ball over in three straight games. Fullback Larry Dixon had an impressive 30-yard touchdown run against EMU where he demonstrated his leg strength by breaking at least five tackles to score. Last year Larry Dixon ran for 106 yards on just nine carries against Temple while playing on a sore ankle. Army has moved the ball against the Owls. In 2012, the Black Knights ran for 407 yards and four scores.
Temple's 4-3 defense is ranked 93rd in the nation allowing over 192 rushing yards per game. The Owls best defensive player is sophomore outside linebacker Tyler Matakevich. He is a tackling machine who leads the nation in tackles with 82 including seven for a loss. Last year Matakevich made 101 tackles and was named Freshman All-American and Big East Rookie of the Year. Nose tackle Levi Brown is a two year returning starter. Nate D. Smith was moved from middle linebacker to defensive end where he's made 28 tackles. Temple has good athletes in their front seven but they haven't been as effective as a group like in previous seasons.
TEMPLE PASSING OFFENSE
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Freshman P.J. Walker was impressive in his debut against Cincinnati last week. Walker showed a strong arm as he completed 12 of 22 passes for 200 yards while tossing one interception. Walker is the type of dual threat quarterback that has given Army trouble in the past. He completed half his passes to running backs Kenneth Harper (3 for 40) and Zaire Williams (3 for 51) against Cincinnati. The Owls leading receiver is Ryan Alderman who's caught 20 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown. Jalen Fitzpatrick has 18 receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns. He caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Walker last week against Cincinnati. Former quarterback Juice Granger who started for the Owls in last year's game at West Point has been converted to wide receiver. He caught a 30-yard touchdown pass versus Cincinnati. Tight end Chris Coyer is another former quarterback who started against Army in 2011 and was switched by this staff to a new position. Coyer has 13 receptions for 118 passing yards, a 9.1 average and a touchdown.
The Black Knights' pass defense is ranked 47th in the nation. Army is allowing over 217 passing yard a game. Eastern Michigan quarterback completed 17-of-26 for 223 passing yards. Army picked off one pass and allowed two touchdown passes last week. Plebe cornerback Josh Jenkins (2 INTs, 6 pass def., FF) has continued to make plays on the ball. Last game Jenkins made a nice strip of EMU wide receiver Jay Jones on a slant pattern for a huge turnover that changed the game. Rover Justin Trimble played a solid game replacing the injured Thomas Holloway with 6 tackles, a diving interception and a fumble recovery. Trimble isn't very fast but has terrific instincts and understands the game. SAM safety Shaquille Tolbert continues to struggle in coverage. He allowed a touchdown pass last game against EMU. Army can match up fairly well with these receivers even without Bacon or Holloway. The Owls receivers seem to lack the top end speed and big play ability of past Al Golden recruits which Army has faced.
TEMPLE RUSHING OFFENSE
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Temple's new pro spread offense offers a lot less physical rushing attack than the Owls offered the last few years. Kenneth Harper is the Owls' leading rushing with 322 yards on 66 carries, a 4.9 average and six touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Zaire Williams has carried the ball 50 times for 260 yards, with a score. New starting freshman quarterback P.J. Walker has excellent speed and ripped off a 31-yard run in his first start against Cincinnati. Temple's offensive line is still huge averaging 6-4, 304 pounds across its front. They return two starters from the group that dominated the Black Knights last season. Temple ran for 534 yards, averaged 9.4 yards a carry and scored nine rushing touchdowns in last year's game. The Owls have dominated the Army defensive front at the point of attack the last three games.
The Black Knights are thankful former Temple running backs Matt Brown (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Bernard Pierce (Baltimore Ravens) are in the NFL and Montel Harris is in the CFL. They killed Army the past few seasons. The Black Knights allowed Eastern Michigan 194 rushing yards, 5.7 yards per carry and a touchdown last week. The Eagles ripped off a few long runs and Army's tackling was poor especially in the first half. Army is ranked 89th in rushing defense as they've allowed more than 185 rushing yards per game. Army played without two of their four leading tacklers last week and it showed. Mike linebacker Colby Miller (9 tackles, 1 sack) has probably earned himself more reps with his play the last two weeks. His nice tackle on Bronson Hill, holding him for no gain on fourth down, helped secure the win last week. Miller fills runs gaps and makes tackles on plays run towards him. His speed limitations are exposed in pass coverage or pitches to the alley. Miller will make tackles which too many Army defenders struggle to do consistently. Julian Holloway's (41 tackles, 1 sack ) play at Mike linebacker has been uneven the last two weeks after being named starter. He's a lot better athlete than Miller but is often slow to react to plays and misses too many tackles. Malcolm Hudson (9 tackles, 2 TFL) has replaced Dalton Mendenhall at quick end. Hudson played well last week and seems better able to shed blocks than Mendenhall.
REMARKS: Temple is using their third kicker this year. On the season they've made just one of six field goal attempts. Freshman Nick Visco has hit one of two field goal attempts and had one field goal attempt blocked. Senior punter Paul Layton is a transfer from Albany. Layton has been very impressive averaging 45.1 yards on 33 punts. He has placed 12 punts inside the 20-yard line. Layton has nailed 12 punts over fifty yards. Kick off specialist Jim Cooper doesn't drive the ball very deep and has no touchbacks this year. Jahad Thomas is averaging 23.1 yards per kickoff return. Punt returner Ryan
Alderman has returned six punts for 30 yards. Temple does a good job covering kickoffs.
Army kicker Dan Grochowski has made seven of eight field goal attempts this year. Grochowski was dinged up against Boston College and Cale Brewer handled kickoffs. Punter Alex Tardieu has averaged 37.1 yards on 27 punts. Army ranks last in the FCS in kick returns averaging just 14.5 yards per kickoff return. The Black Knights have been asking sure handed Scott Williams to just fair catch punts. Army kick and punt coverage has been shaky the last few games.
REMARKS: Temple has won the last five games in the series against Army. Rich Ellerson's team has been outscored 174-94 in losing the last four games. Temple has dominated the Black Knights the last few years and will enter the game with some confidence despite being winless. The Black Knights have won only one road game the past two plus seasons. Army's offense has been playing at a high level with no turnovers the past three games. The Black Knights will be looking for some serious payback after the beatdown of the past two years.
REMARKS: New Temple head coach Matt Rhule is in his first season. The former Temple assistant joined Golden in 2006 at Temple. Rhule was the offensive coordinator from 2008-10 at Temple. The Owls went 22-15 during his three seasons as offensive coordinator. Rhule spent last season as the assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants. Rhule has struggled this season installing his system as Temple has lost all six games. Based on last week he may have found a quarterback in Walker to run his offense.
Rich Ellerson and his staff have won two of the last three games. Offensive coordinator Ian Shields
offense dominated EMU offense produced 551 yards of offense. His counter hand off named after "Doc" Blanchard worked to perfection. Defensive coordinators Chris Smeland and Payam Sadaat had the defense adjust and do a better job playing the dig routes EMU was running on their first two series when they scored touchdowns. They've done a decent job considering how two of their best tacklers are hurt and they've seen two of the best defensive players from the 2011 USMAPS class leave the program in the last six months. Special teams coach Luke Thompson's kick coverage and return teams have been mediocre.
PREDICTION: Army, 38-31. Army should be able to run the ball on Temple's defense. Defensive coordinators Payam Saadat and Chris Smeland need their defense to be sound and maintain their gap responsibilities.