The first of our game week preview articles on the Black Knights opponents this season will be a quick snapshot of their team, how the season has gone to date and other relevant information. This will, of course, be followed with a three keys article later in the week and the two pieces combined will give an even better breakdown of just what Navy will be facing on the following Saturday (or in this case, Friday). The first of our first look articles this year will be on Temple.
Season so far
As this is the first week of the season for both teams there us obviously nothing to look back at yet regarding Temple's form for the game against Army. What we do know about the Owls though is that head coach Matt Rhule and the rest of his players and coaching staff have very high expectations for the 2016 season. Rhule and the Owls have had a gruelling preseason conditioning program as Temple aims to make itself one of the tougher teams to beat in the AAC
Rhule and the Owls have had a gruelling preseason conditioning program as Temple aims to make itself one of the tougher teams to beat in the AAC. The team finished 2015 with back to back losses, first to Houston in the AAC title game and then to Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl. Those losses made a 10-4 season feel like something of a letdown by the time it finished and the Owls are determined to make 2016 the best season in the history of the program.
Injuries and Suspensions
It may be the opening game, but Temple is already dealing with a trio of injuries on the defensive side of the ball. Safety Jyquis Thomas (shoulder), LB Shaun Bradley (undisclosed), and LB Stephaun Marshall (Hamstring) are looking likely to miss the game with Army on Friday night. Of the three it is Thomas who's injury looks the most serious as there is no timetable set for his return.
If Marshall misses the game it will be a big deal as he was penciled in as the starter at weakside linebacker after playing strong side position last fall. This may not seem like a huge move, but Marshall is being entrusted to fill the position vacated by Tyler Matakevich, a once in a generation talent for Temple who finished his career at the school with an incredible 493 tackles.
The opening game is always going to be a different and unique challenge. The offense will be playing at game speed against a live opponent for the first time in over eight months, while defenses tend to be a little ahead early in the season. The main challenge for Army in this one is to simply believe they can win this game. The 2-10 season is in the rearview mirror, but there are plenty of players returning from that squad. Army lost five games last year by five points or fewer, so if this game is close late head coach Jeff Monken will need to see improved mental toughness and execution down the stretch for the Black Knights to get across the finish line first.