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Grading the Defense: Week 11

While all 35 points Temple scored were not the fault of the defense, it wasn’t as if the unit dominated.

NCAA Football: Temple at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday we took a look at how the offense performed in Cincinnati’s season finale against the Temple Owls. OK, so it wasn’t actually the last game of the year, but it was from a competitive stand point, as the 35-24 loss means there will be no bowling for the Bearcats. While the offense showed a number of positive things in the losing effort, the defense did some things right as well. However, there were obviously plenty of things to criticize. Let’s get to it.

Defensive Line

The Good: Marquise Copeland sure can ball out when he wants to. He was the most disruptive defensive force for the Bearcats, recording 2.0 tackles for loss and a sack along with seven total tackles. Kevin Mouhon also blocked a pass as you can see from the picture above.

The Bad: The rest of the line was not nearly as productive, especially in their work against the run. Temple running back David Hood rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Pretty much any ball carrier that wanted to move on the ground was able to do so effectively. The Owls managed 4.8 yards per attempt as a team, and that included 28 yards and a score from quarterback Frank Nutile, who mainly avoided any pressure.

Final Grade: C-

Linebackers

The Good: Already inserted into the starting lineup, freshman Jarell White performed well, matching Perry Young with 10 tackles. Jaylyin Minor was at the top of the box score in that regard, tallying 16 stops, including seven solo jobs. Minor also had one of the team’s three tackles for loss and broke up a pass. Additionally, while the linebackers deserve a bit of blame for Temple’s ability to run for 205 yards, they generally kept backs contained to the second level.

The Bad: For all the tackles Young, Minor and White had, they had just one produce negative yards. There just wasn’t enough pressure from this group, even if Tyrell Gilbert had a quarterback hit and a forced fumble he recovered.

Final Grade: C+

Secondary

The Good: Nutile played very well in the week before facing UC, but he was much less impressive in this game. He completed 19-of-30 pass attempts for 224 yards and matched a touchdown with an interception. That meant the UC secondary was at least putting up decent resistance. Temple’s top three players in receptions, Isaiah Wright, Adonis Jennings and Keith Kirkwood, only had 75 yards and eight catches combined. Marquese Taylor also had his first career interception and Chris Murphy broke up two passes. Cater Jacobs led the defensive backs with seven tackles.

The Bad: Despite some solid individual plays, the effort as a whole was a little lacking, with Linden Stephens only having four tackles.

Final Grade: C+

Overall

One of Temple’s scores was on a 98-yard kickoff return from Wright, so that can’t be pegged on the defense. This isn’t fantasy football after all. With that in mind, taken by themselves, each positional group did a decent job, but the overall production was not there. Temple had 429 yards of total offense and only punted twice. The Owls were also allowed to go 4-for-4 in the red zone and 8-of-14 on third down, while virtually no pressure was felt (one total sack). As has been the trend this season, fundamentally sound tackling doesn’t mean much if teams are picking up nearly six yards per play and feeling no pressure.

Final Grade: C-