Maryland is set for its official home opener this Saturday against Temple. The Terps haven’t played the Owls since 2012, when Maryland won in Philadelphia 36-27. To find out more about this year’s Temple team, we talked to Sam Neumann from The Temple News. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
What are the expectations for head coach Geoff Collins in his second season at Temple?
The expectations coming into the season for Temple was the Owls were going to compete with the top of the AAC East. In his first season, they went 6-6 and went to a bowl game. Granted, they lost multiple starters to the NFL, but they were favorites to win the first two games and for sure compete with teams like UCF and USF to play in the conference championship game.
That’s on hold for now as everyone is genuinely surprised by the early results.
Coming off three straight bowl appearances, how has the program culture at Temple changed within the last few seasons?
I would say the program culture has changed to where winning being expected. There’s not quite an expectation of making the Top 25, but people still think the Owls should be playing in a bowl every year.
The shift in power from Matt Rhule to Geoff Collins as head coach was rather peaceful, but the team still needs time to develop under a new head coach, so he can bring in his own recruits. A lot of these guys aren’t his recruits right now.
Maryland ran for more than 400 yards last week, while the Owls are averaging just 80 yards a game on the ground. How will the running attacks impact the pace of the game?
The Owls have struggled in the trenches and been dominated twice. If Maryland runs the football like they did last week, forget it.
Temple struggled to get their run game going against Villanova, it wasn’t really there versus Buffalo, and the run defense is non-existent. Two defensive ends, Dana Levine and Quincy Roche, are hurt, so they are rotating guys in and out. Starting running back Ryquell Armstead had to play some defensive end because of the lack of depth they have right now. I fully expect Maryland to control the battle of the run game again.
Your 0-2 start to the season comes off a pair of close losses. Why has Temple struggled in late game scenarios and how do you see that affecting Saturday’s matchup?
Temple has struggled in late game scenarios because they let the game come down to one play and they’ve blown multiple opportunities with late plays. Their defense can’t get off the field, and in a tie game last week, they had a chance to get off the field and had a roughing the passer penalty. I don’t anticipate the game being close at all on Saturday, but if it comes down to a couple plays again, it’ll be due to Temple mistakes.
Maryland wins if…
…they control the trenches. Temple can’t stop a nosebleed over the middle of the field. Running it up the middle and passes across the middle, it’s over. Villanova tight end Ryan Bell killed Temple in the middle of the field and the red zone. Buffalo wide receiver Anthony Johnson did the same thing. Maryland just needs to control the middle of the field and it’ll be smooth sailing.
Temple wins if…
…quarterback Frank Nutile plays like he did last season. He’s been very inconsistent to start the season, failing to find a rhythm or groove. Nutile hasn’t had exactly a lot of time or a run game to help him, but he’s made some poor throws and turned over the football four times this season. He’s never had expectations as a starter and has made poor choices and bad throws at the feet of receivers.