— Story by Martin Shnayder
Temple is sitting at 1-2 coming off a tough loss in Happy Valley last weekend. The Owls had opportunities in that game, but the offense wasn’t able to get the points they needed when it mattered, and the defense struggled to put together a complete game, especially in the secondary. Matt Rhule will look to have his team ready and focused for another Noon start time.
The 49ers are also entering the game 1-2; they are coming off a home loss to Eastern Michigan 37-19. Charlotte opened up their season by giving up 70 points and getting stomped by Louisville. This will also be their last out of conference game before opening up conference play against Old Dominion.
What Happened Last Time:
The Owls secured their first 4-0 start since 1974 last year by going into Charlotte and beating the 49ers on the first weekend of October. It was a sloppy affair as the game was played in a terrible rain storm. Temple’s offense struggled in the first half of the game only leading 10-3 at halftime, before scoring 20 points in the third quarter and pulling away with a 37-3 win. Jahad Thomas ran for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns in that game, and the Temple defense held Charlotte to only 131 yards through the air.
Temple Players to Watch:
Brendan McGowan: The Temple offensive line was atrocious last weekend, and it won’t get any easier this week as they face off against nose tackle Larry Ogunjobi. At 6-3 and 253 pounds, Ogunjobi is a force to reckon with on that Charlotte defensive front. McGowan is the senior center for the Owls, so not only will he be matched up against Ogunjobi for a good portion of the game, but he will also be responsible for getting the offensive line their assignments at the line of scrimmage. Phillip Walker has been fairly consistent this season, but it’s hard for him to make plays when the line is collapsing in front him. It will be important for McGowan to keep the offensive line nice and steady this week.
Nate Hairston: The Owls got burned in the secondary last week plain and simple. There were high hopes coming into this year that despite the turnover on the defensive side of the ball, the secondary would remain sturdy with upper classmen Nate Hairston and Sean Chandler remaining. Hairston is the senior in the group, and it is going to be up to him to contain big play WR Austin Duke who already has a 76 yard reception on the season. Temple cannot let him get behind the defense on Saturday.
Charlotte Players to Watch:
Larry Ogunjobi: As I mentioned earlier, Brendan McGowan is going to have his hands full containing this guy. He is without a doubt the heart and soul of this 49ers defense and his presence in the interior of the defensive line is almost always felt. If he can generate some pressure up the middle and force Walker to have to do a lot of scrambling, the 49ers could force some turnovers and have a shot in this game.
Kevin Olsen: If the 49ers want a chance in this game then their junior quarterback from Wayne, NJ is going to have to step up. Olsen has been a disappointment thus far for Charlotte after being named the starting QB back in early August. Not only does he need to be good statistically, but if a team like Charlotte wants to pull off an upset on the road as a 27.5 point favorite, then their quarterback needs to lead with confidence. This will be a big game for Olsen this week.
I think it is safe to say that this Temple team is not nearly as good as the squad from last year. However, they are still much better than they were in their first couple of years with head coach Matt Rhule where they lost to teams like Fordham at home. In short, there is really no excuse for them to lose at home to Charlotte and I don’t expect them too. This will be Jahad Thomas’ second game back from injury, and I’m expecting a big day. Look for him to repeat his 100-yard, 2 -touchdown performance that he had against Charlotte last year.
Random News and Notes:
-Start time is Noon for this game and can be heard on 97.5 The Fanatic.
-This will be Temple’s homecoming game.
-Temple is a 27.5 point favorite and the O/U is set at 52.5
-Temple will begin conference play by hosting SMU next Saturday (10/1).