Preview: Temple Prepares for Conference Matchup with East Carolina

Written by: Eileen Wickline – @eileenwickline

With a tough stretch of non-conference opponents behind them, Temple will now continue conference play with a match-up against ECU this upcoming Saturday.

Going into this game, Temple has an 1-0 conference record after a 31-17 win over Tulsa week 4.  ECU has not yet won a conference game as they fell in their lone conference game at USF by a score of 20-13.

The position the Owls are in going into this game is something familiar for them. In the 2017 season, the Owls were also 2-3 on the season when playing ECU in Week 6. The Owls were able to capitalize on the season by playing above .500 football the rest of the way and advanced to a bowl game (the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl) which  they won by a score of 28-3 over FIU.

Playing a team like Boston College put the Temple team on display for what they could do against a strong Power 5 team. The Owls were not able to put one in the win column and lost 45-35.

“I’m proud of how our guys played they really kept fighting,” Head Coach Geoff Collins said after the game, “Tremendous effort, played physical, fast and tough. They kept competing until the end”

Geoff Collins spoke on some stand out players in the matchup and those to watch going into the week. One of those players is Rob Ritrovato who Collins says is always willing to put himself in any situation for the good of the team. Ritrovato is a single digit player and has been a key player for the Temple offense. He will be a player the offense is sure to use on Saturday.

“We just got to hit home the message of playing smart,” Ritrovato said on Tuesday about the team’s play against Boston College, “Can’t turn the ball over. Take away the turnovers and penalties from last week and it’s a very different outcome.”

Ritrovato will have some help on offense with players like Isaiah Wright and Ryquell Armstead who had both season and career records against Boston College. Armstead had over 170 yards and 4 touchdowns while Wright had 7 receptions for 114 yards.

Additionally, the quarterback situation seems to not be in question this week. Collins said on Tuesday that if they were to make the decision then, Anthony Russo would be getting the start for the game against the Pirates.

The explosive Owls offense will be facing an ECU defense who allows around 307 yards and 25 points per game. If the offense is able to perform well against an ECU defense, the defensive side of the ball for the Owls should have no problem stopping them which is the recipe for a win.

“ECU does a lot of things really well offense wise,” Linebacker, Chapelle Russell said, “They do a lot of zone scheme and RPO. We have to play with the scheme defensively and be aggressive.”

The defense for the Owls, or the “Dark Side” as they have been named by Coach Collins have been the most impressive part of tis Owls squad. Going into the Boston College game, the Owls were ranked 1st  nationally in Defensive TDs, 1st in blocked kicks, 1st in Red zone defense, 2nd in interceptions and 5th in sacks.

“We’re back on track,” Shaun Bradley said on the continuation of the season, “Rest of the games from here on out are conference. We’re still focused and back on our game plan.”

Bradley was able to record 11 tackles on Saturday including a tackle for loss. This brings his season total to 40 tackles. He as well as Delvon Randall, Quincy Roche, and Isaiah Graham Mobley have all been able to put big numbers up for this Temple team.

What to Look for on Saturday

This game will be the start of seven consecutive conference games for both teams. The Owls look to record some wins before they face a difficult stretch of conference games that include UCF, USF, and Houston. With a win on Saturday the Owls will be playing .500 football as the season moves on and they hunt for the conference title. Here’s three things to watch for this Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field:

  1. Ryquell Armstead – As the leading back on the team, Armstead will look to continue his streak of 100 plus yard games.
  2. Defense – with letting up almost 50 Points as well as omitting 2 targeting penalties, it’s no secret that this side of the ball will need to clean up their game before their next appearance at home.
  3. Sloppiness – Going along with the targeting penalty calls, the Owls were whistled for 11 penalties total in the Boston College game. The Owls say the game could have been different had they not struggled with penalties.