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Temple Owls Statistical Profile

The Cincinnati Bearcats will return home licking their wounds for the second time this season. On Friday night the Bearcats will take on a Temple football team that is still looking for the first win of the season. Here is the first and most detailed look at the Owls.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports


Number Conference Rank National Rank
Rushing Yards Per Game 137.6 7 89
Rushing Yards Per Carry 3.95 7 85
Passing Yards Per Game 204.8 8 95
Passing Yards Per Attempt 5.5 9 117
Passer Rating 97.79 9 118
Yards Per Play 4.77 8 110

Steve Adazio has moved on to Boston College. But his general approach to the game of Football is still embodied in the play of the current Temple Owls. They run first, and they run often. When they do pass they don't risk much as the general idea is not to screw it up for your defense with turnovers and costly mistakes.

The key for the Owls on offense is to stay in standard downs, and they are generally successful at doing just that. In 158 first down snaps Temple has gained 717 yards, an average of 4.5 per first down snap. A big reason for that standard downs success is the play of running backs Kenneth Harper and Zaire Williams who have been good as a tandem (Louisville aside). When the running game isn't working the Owls are put in passing downs, where they have struggled this year.

The biggest reason is quarterback inconsistency. Connor Reilly and Clinton Granger have already started games this year. Come Friday the Owls will start their third QB of the season in Freshman P.J. Walker. His sample size is small, but he has been by far the best of the Temple QB bunch, and gives them their best chance for QB stability in a long time.

Now, if only he could get some production from the receivers, because there hasn't been a ton. Outside of Ryan Alderman no one is averaging more than 50 yards per game. Two of the top four receivers are running backs which indicates that the QB, whoever it may be, doesn't challenge the defense deep and spends a lot of time checking down. That combined with a high volume of negative plays (more on that in a bit) consistently puts the Owls in bad position on third downs (more on that in a bit as well). The bottom line for the Owls is that they are fine, or at worst passable in standard downs, but they are in a world of hurt when they get behind schedule.


Conference Rank
National Rank
Rushing Yards Per Game
190.4 9 94
Rushing Yards Per Carry
4.88 10 102
Passing Yards Per Game
327.6 10 124
Passing Yards Per Attempt
8.6 10 113
Passer Rating
148.69 9 103
Yards Per Play
6.71 10 114

This is going to be shorter than the offensive part. Thats because there is some hope in the future for the Owl offense with a couple of freshman looking to play major roles going forward. It will take time to payoff, but it isn't hopeless. The Owl defense is hopeless.

The problem is that they take a ton of big swings, and miss the majority of them. They just don't seem to have the horses to capitalize on the scheme that they are playing. The result is that when the opposing QB's have time to complete passes they find plenty of open receivers. Taylor Matakevich is a stud at MIKE, and he is on pace for 160 tackle season. But the support, from the line or the secondary is missing. The pass rush in particular has been such a problem that the coaches have moved Nate D. Smith from his natural WILL spot to defensive end to help generate some sort of pass rush. It hasn't really helped.


Opponents Temple
Tackles For Loss 28 35
Sacks 14 9
Hurries 15 4
Pressure %* 15% 7%
Interceptions 4 0
Passes Defended 16 12
Defensed/Incompletion Ratio* 22% 17%

* Just as a refreshed Pressure percentage is the frequency of pressure on opposing quarterbacks dropping back to pass calculated as (sacks + hurries)/(sacks + opponent passing attempts). Defensed/Incompletion ratio attempts to measure how often an incomplete pass can be attributed to a given team's defense. The calculation is (interceptions + passes defended) / (opponent passing attempts- passing completions). Still in the process of doing a deep dive to see if any of this means a thing.

The boom and bust nature of the Owls defense shows up here. Normally production in tackles for loss and sacks are more or less correlated. A hypothetical defense with a high sack total will most likely have high production in tackles for loss. Generally the source for the production in either category comes from the defensive line. A quality defensive line will tend to generate TFL's and sacks in equal measure. Temple is the exception that proves the rule.

For all the success the Owls have had racking up TFL's in the run game they have been powerless to get meaningful pressure on opposing passers. That lack of pressure has let a very young secondary out to dry, with predictable consequences. The Owls have played two elite passing teams, Houston and Louisville. But even middling offensive teams like Notre Dame and Idaho have lit them up like the fourth of July.

Life On The Margins

Opponent Temple
Interceptions Thrown 0 4
Opposition Fumbles 7 2
Opposition Fumbles Recovered 4 2
Recovery Percent 57% 100%
Turnover Margin +6 -6
Blocked Kicks 2 1
Red Zone Touchdown Percentage 30.77 62.5
Non Offensive Touchdowns 0 0

When I did the statistical profile of USF my over arching conclusion was that USF was a bad team that had also had bad luck. The same can't be said for the Owls. They are bad because they are bad, their luck is if anything neutral or a touch on the down side. But, as saturday proved, there is simply no accounting for luck.

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