By: Cayden Steele, Photo courtesy of AP
Turnovers continue to be a problem for Anthony Russo, the 6’4 quarterback can spin it and make plays, but his three-interceptions on Saturday were pivotal.
Memphis scored 24-points off of Temple turnovers, Russo’s three interceptions led to 17-points and Re’Mahn Davis’ fumble in the middle of the third quarter allowed them to score seven more points.
The Tigers took advantage of good field position and wide receiver Calvin Austin’s performance was incredible, the junior had six receptions for 184 yards and a touchdown. His ability to break down the Temple secondary helped Memphis (3-1, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) win 41-29 against Temple (1-2, 1-2 AAC) on Saturday.
The Owls beat themselves, sloppy play continues to be a concern for the team.
Russo’s mistakes were not solely on him, Branden Mack and Jaden Blue were partly responsible for his three interceptions.
Mack slipped on the first interception, Blue stopped running the route on the second interception and the third interception was thrown behind Blue and bounced off his shoulder.
Even though Russo is not the sole reason for every interception, his mistakes have to be cleaned up.
“Certainly Anthony has a hand in that, we’ve got to take care of the ball better,” head coach Rod Carey said.
Besides the turnovers, the offense continued to struggle in the red zone, they went 4-of-7 and only scored 3-points after Memphis turned the ball over three different times.
Kicker Will Mobley missed from 26-yards on the first drive and the team fell short multiple times when they had good field position.
Temple was not able to take advantage of Memphis’ red zone defense, but the Owls are not discouraged by the lack of success inside the 20.
“We got three great receivers and we got to get them touches in the red zone,” Re’Mahn Davis said. “I believe Anthony we still do that, he’s done it in the past and he’ll continue to do it the next few games.”
Temple still finished with 500-yards of total offense and converted 30 first downs.
Russo struggled, but he managed to still complete 41 out of 63 passes and had four touchdowns.
The wide receivers continued to shine as well, they had two wide receivers go over 100-yards. Jaden Blue had 13 receptions for 115 yards and three touchdowns and Randle Jones had another impressive performance, finishing with 12 receptions for 118 yards.
The Temple run game was effective. Re’Mahn Davis ran for a season-high 113 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. He also caught six receptions for 32 yards in the loss.
Memphis junior defensive back Rodney Owen had two interceptions and senior defensive back Jacobi Francis had one interception.
The opportunistic Tigers defense gave their offense many chances to have success.
Brady White didn’t play his best. Temple sophomore Elijah Clark intercepted his pass in the middle of the fourth quarter and White was off target on a good amount of his throws.
All that didn’t matter though, White still threw four touchdowns to three different wide receivers.
Austin was a difficult wide receiver to cover for Temple, his speed presented a problem.
“It’s definitely a challenge because he has a lot of speed,” safety Amir Tyler said. “I believe my corners can contain him, they definitely contained him in certain parts of the game.”
Memphis freshman wide receiver Tahj Washington had five receptions for 77-yards and two touchdowns and freshman Javon Ivory had 3 receptions for 40-yards and a touchdown.
Memphis attacked the secondary and made plays down the field, but the run game was consistent as well.
The combination of running backs Rodrigues Clark and Kaylen Watkins kept the Tigers offense balanced, Watkins had 45-yards rushing and scored a touchdown and Clark finished with 106-yards.
The defense was not put in easy situations, but they’re not making excuses and they have to execute better moving forward.
“It doesn’t matter where the ball is at, if it’s on their one yard line or it’s on our one yard line, we are going to get a stop for the offense,” Tyler said. “That’s something I believe we need to get better at.”
Next, Temple will play Tulane on Saturday at 12:00 p.m., in New Orleans, Louisiana.