By Zach Demusz
For the first time since 2015, Temple football won its season opener.
The Owls’ offense recorded 625 total yards, a school record, en route to a dominating 56-12 win against Bucknell University on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
In first-year head coach Rod Carey’s Temple debut, the Owls did not allow Bucknell to score an offensive touchdown, found answers at the running back position and saw their number three receiver have a big game.
It was a strong start to the Rod Carey era at Temple. Here are Zach Demusz and Ray Dunne’s five takeaways from the Owls’ season-opening win.
After losing Ryquelll Armstead to the NFL, Temple had questions at the running back position. On Saturday, we found some answers.
Redshirt senior Jager Gardner was the presumed starter at the running back position, but the real question was who would step up behind him.
True freshman Re’Mahn Davis answered that question.
Davis compiled 138 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns – one receiving and one rushing. In the second quarter, Davis caught a pass in the flat then burst past the defense for a 51-yard touchdown.
Davis finished the day with 60 rushing yards on 9 carries and two catches for 78 receiving yards.
“I just went out and played my game and it was pretty exciting,” Davis said. “I was nervous the first time I touched the ball but after that, it was just a tempo game for me.”
Gardner was also productive in the season opener, totaling 54 rushing yards on ten carries. Gardner also had two rushing scores in the first quarter – the first came from 11 yards out while the second was a one-yard rush.
Having two guys who can both run and catch the ball will be a key to the Owls’ offense this season. If this game against a Bucknell team who went 1-10 last season showed anything, it is that Temple has the potential to have a very productive backfield
Temple’s first-year defensive coordinator Jeff Knowles should be thrilled with the Owls play in the season opener.
Bucknell had just one first-down conversion in the first half and did not convert a third down until its first drive in the second half.
The Owls did not allow Bucknell to score an offensive touchdown as the Bisons’ only one came from a pick-six on defense.
Sure, the Bison offense averaged just 13 points last season and played three different quarterbacks on Saturday, but for Temple to shutdown Bucknell in its first game under Knowles’ new scheme is certainly noteworthy.
The Owls lived in the Bisons’ backfield, amassing five tackles for losses. Redshirt sophomore Ifeanyi Maijeh led that group with one sack, two tackles for losses and five tackles. Senior Karamo Dioubate contributed a sack and a tackle for a loss.
“[They attack] every single thing,” Maijeh said. “Every play all eleven guys are on the ball. It is ferocious.”
Coming into the season, all eyes were on senior Isaiah Wright and junior Brandon Mack to be Temple’s top receiving threats. Wright and Mack showed why – Wright had 99 all-purpose yards and a touchdown while Mack had 130 receiving yards.
But on Saturday, Jadan Blue showed he could be in that conversation as well. The redshirt sophomore wide receiver led the Owls with 10 receptions and finished second on the team with 117 receiving yards.
Blue scored Temple’s first points of the season on a shovel pass from six yards out just three minutes and 19 seconds into the game.
Last season Blue flashed potential, but with a bigger role in 2019, Blue could be the wildcard that puts Temple’s offense over the top.