Temple Looks to Punctuate Return to Big East with Statement Win over Rutgers

Mark BatorAnalyst IIOctober 18, 2012

Oct 13, 2012; Piscataway, NJ, USA; A look down the line of scrimmage during the game between the Rutgers Scarlett Knights and the Syracuse Orange during the first half at  Highpoint Solutions Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE
Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE

The unbeaten Rutgers Scarlet Knights are the next Big East team that the Temple Owls will look to knock off when they host them in Philadelphia on Oct. 20. The Owls are coming off a big, 17-14 overtime win against Connecticut, which improved their record to 3-2 on the season and 2-0 in Big East play.

"This is exciting for me, an honor to coach against Steve," declared RU head coach Kyle Flood (as quoted by Marc Narducci of The Inquirer on Philly.com) during his Monday press conference. "Steve was one of the truly fine offensive line coaches in the country before becoming a head coach."

The Owls will be facing a Rutgers defense that is nationally ranked in several categories. Critics are quick to point out, though, that RU's level of  competition so far this year has been subpar.

Attempting to pass against that defense will be Temple quarterback Chris Coyer (54-of-101 for 662 yards and six touchdowns this season), who currently ranks 7th in the Big East with a QB rating of 124.2.

One of his favorite targets is Jalen Fitzpatrick (12 receptions for 196 yards and two touchdowns), who is the highest ranked of Temple's receivers (currently No. 22 in the Big East).

The 50th-ranked Temple rushing attack, however, may be where the Owls look to hurt the Scarlet Knights. They will try to utilize sustained drives to keep the RU offense off the field.

The task of moving the chains on the ground will fall mainly to RB Montel Harris, who has 310 yards this season and three touchdowns. Temple also relies heavily on its fleet-footed quarterback, Chris Coyer, who has 302 yards and two touchdowns through last week.

"It starts with stopping the run," theorized Flood (as quoted in the Stats LLC game preview on ESPN.com). "If you stop the run, you can make a team one-dimensional, you'll have chances to turn the ball over."

The Temple defense relies heavily on the pressure put on the quarterback by DL John Youboty, DE Marcus Green and LB Sean Daniels, who each have two sacks this year.

Rutgers QB Gary Nova has been stingy surrendering interceptions, and defensive backs Chris Hutton, Tavon Young and Vaughn Carraway will have their hands full trying to cover the Knights' talented receiving corps.

In 34 total meetings between the two clubs, Rutgers leads the series 18-16-0, with the most recent meeting back in 2004. The Owls were removed from the Big East following that season, and after a seven-season absence, Temple was reintegrated from the Mid-American Conference.

Now, as they build momentum, the Owls are looking to continue making their mark in the Big East in 2012.

"I think it's real important," indicated Temple head coach Steve Addazio (as quoted by Pat Eaton-Robb of the Associated Press on WJTV.com). "We're going to represent Northeast and Big East football."

Now midway through his first season and without a blemish on his record, Flood knows that his team must remain focused in order to to reach its preseason goal of winning the Big East title.

"If you spend too much time patting yourself on the back for what you've accomplished, you're going to lose sight of what you need to accomplish this week," declared Flood (per the Stats LLC game preview). "We'll evaluate the whole body of work at the end of the season."

Game Time: 12pm, Oct. 20, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA. Television: ESPN3