November 15, 2012
Army vs. Temple: Analysts Square Off
For 22 Army seniors, Saturday's game will be their last at Michie Stadium as they take on the Temple Owls. What team has the more potent offense?
Both squads are coming off of defeats last weekend as Army feel to Rutgers, 28-7, while Temple was on the losing end to Cincinnati, 34-10, but don't think that this game is meaningless, because a win on Saturday would launch both programs into their respective season finales, but also momentum into the preparation stage for the 2013 campaign.
In their head to head match-up, Temple leads the series, 5-4 and the Owls have won the last four encounters, which includes last season's 42-14 drubbing of the Black Knights.
Needless to say, Army is looking rebound from the 2011 embarrassment and halt their 3-game slide to the Owls.
So let's read ahead to hear what A.M. Allan, Football Analyst of GoBlackKnights.com and John De Carlo, Editor of OwlScoop.com have to say about Saturday's match-up.
As the Black Knights have demonstrated throughout the season, and even against No. 22 Rutgers, who game into last Saturday's contest with the 5th ranked run defense in the nation ... the only "D" that appears to be able to stop the nation's top rushing offense is the offense itself.
The Black Knights have the advantage in this category over the Temple Owls, unless of course they self destruct as they have a tendency to do with turnovers. Otherwise, the Owls will have a difficult time slowing down Army rushing attack that averages 366 yards per game.
Despite the Owls' recent struggles in their first season back in the Big East since 2004, and with all due respect to Army quarterback Trent Steelman and the nation's top-ranked running game. I'll give the edge to Temple. Yes, Temple will most likely have redshirt juniorClinton "Juice" Granger under center for his first career start, but he led a touchdown drive last week in relief of Chris Coyer and has some players around him that can get the ball into the end zone and others that are finally starting to break out.
Fifth-year senior Montel Harris, who transferred to Temple from Boston College during the offseason after becoming the Eagles' all-time leading rusher, is expected to play after getting hurt last week. He has rushed for 597 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and fellow senior Matt Brown (301 yards, two touchdowns, 5.4 yards per carry) is starting to carry the ball again while working through a high ankle sprain. Sophomore Jalen Fitzpatrick, the team's leading receiver with 24 catches for 322 yards and two touchdowns, can also line up as a wildcat quarterback, and tight end Cody Boothleads the team with four receiving touchdowns.
The thought here is that the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Granger could give Temple a shot in the arm, and although Owls head coach Steve Addazio loves to run the ball, his team is better equipped than Army to be balanced on offense Saturday.
Who is the offensive x-factor and why?
Quarterback Trent Steelmanwill making his final Michie Stadium appearance. The four year starter will be looking to go out with a bang and his leadership and gutted play will inspire those around. We are projecting that Steelman, who has rushed for 1,013 on the season, will have the type of game that fans will be talking about for years to come. Steelman will enter Saturday's game with 3,085 career rushing yards, which is 15th in NCAA history for quarterbacks, which puts him ahead of names like Tim Tebow (2,947), Ricky Dobbs (2,265) and Robert Griffin III (2,254).
Temple's Matt Brown, because he's getting healthier and will be eager to replicate the success the last time he played at Michie Stadium.
Back on Oct. 2, 2010, with former starting running back and current Baltimore Raven Bernard Pierce out with an injury, Brown carried the Owls to a 42-35 win at Army by rushing for a career-high 226 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries. Although the 5-5, 170-pound Brown is a team-first guy who has played through two ankle injuries this season, he also won't be shy about trying to surpass what he did the last time Temple played at West Point.
Why is this game a must win and/or a defining game this Saturday for?
Neither team is playing for a bowl berth or anything close to that. But for Army, they would love to have that additional win under their belt prior to their showdown against Navy on Dec. 8th. But this is also about building confidence & momentum for all the returning players for 2013.
Which team has the better defense?
The Black Knights, who are ranked 83rd in the nation in overall defense versus Temple, who is ranked 82nd don't have the better defense over the Owls ... albeit close. However, Army does enter Saturday's contest with the defense that is presently playing better. The coaches and fans are hoping that the Nate Combs lead defense will be able to duplicate last week's performance against Rutgers and if so, it will put the Black Knights in a very favorable position to take down the Owls.
This one's a coin flip, and only because Temple will not be facing a vaunted passing attack Saturday. The Owls and the Black Knights are 82nd and 83rd in the nation, respectively, in total defense. Army comes in at No. 102 in the country in scoring defense while Temple is 86th.
The Owls are allowing a somewhat (and we use that word liberally) respectable 169.5 yards per game on the ground, which ranks them 77th in the country, but this is the largest does of running they'll see all year. Freshman linebackers Tyler Matakevich and Nate Smith have been tackling machines all season and the two best players on defensive coordinator Chuck Heater's squad, but they'll have to be very disciplined against a very experienced senior quarterback and leader in Steelman and an equally-dangerous ball carrier in junior running back Raymond Maples, a Philadelphia native. They've combined for 1,978 yards and 15 touchdowns for an offense that averages 366.1 rushing yards per game out of its triple-option attack.
Who is the defensive x-factor and why?
As Army fans have witnessed, there are two types of defenses that have been on display this season for the Black Knights. The one that the Army faithful embrace and opponents distaste is that one that has Bandit linebacker Nate Combs in the lineup. When the senior captain has been out of the rotation due to injury, the young "D's" productivity takes an obvious nose dive. Unfortunately for the Owls, Combs is more than ready to go on Saturday ... #22 is the X-Factor.
Temple's Smith, the team's middle linebacker. This will be his first look at Army, and playing the Black Knights isn't as simple as lining up against a traditional offense. If he can sift through the misdirection and read his keys, he and Matakevich could and should make just enough stops to allow the Owls to win this game.
Who has the edge on special teams?
Although KR, Julian Crockett has demonstrated that he is a legitimate threat when he touches the ball and Eric Osteen's kickoff pretty much equal touchback for opposing team. However, every other facet of the special teams is and has been inconsistent. So much, that Osteen will now take on the field goal duties over Daniel Grochowski coming into the Temple game.
Edge goes to the Owls.
Temple has one of the better kickers and punters in the nation in and one of the country's top return specialists in Brown, who returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown at Louisville two weeks ago. McManus is ninth in the country in punting with an average of 45.02 yards per punt and has converted 12 of his 15 field goal attempts, with a season-long of 50 yards.
Which team drives the length of the field?
This is really a cut and paste response from week to week with the Black Knights. By virtue of their offense style, Army will look to maintained control of both the clock and the ball. The nation's leading rushing offense also averages 32:35 in the time of possession category, which is 12th in the nation. However, those number are only effective when the net result is the Black Knights putting up scores, not turnovers at the end of their time consuming drives, which was the team's achilles heal last week versus Rutgers.
I give the slight edge to Army
Army, with Steelman and Maples leading the way, has the ability to do this better than Temple. The Black Knights know and run their offense well, and it will be up to a struggling Owls defense to stop it. And if Temple's defensive backs, including a pair of safeties in Vaughn Carraway and Justin Gildea who have not played well, get lulled into a run-first mentality and aren't aware that Steelman could try to surprise and hurt them with a pass, then it could be a long day for the Owls.
Which player is the sleeper for Saturday's game & why?
Once again we have to go with Kicker Eric Osteen for two reasons. There's no question of his leg strength, which on kickoffs, will eliminate Temple's kick return threat in Brandon McManus. However, when it comes to field goals, he may be tested early as well as often and if he can add accuracy to his aforementioned leg power, he may the difference in the game for Army.
Romond Deloatch, Temple's 6-4 freshman wide receiver, finally caught his first career pass last week in the Owls' loss to Cincinnati and finished with four receptions for 42 yards. One of the gems of Addazio's 2012 recruiting class after he received strong recruiting interest from Virginia Tech, Deloatch could evolve into a big target for Granger now that he says he has a lot of those freshman butterflies out of the way after last week. And if Temple can pop off a big throw or two downfield to Deloatch, it will open things up for Harris and Brown.
Predict the final score?
Army - 28
Temple - 21
A tip of the cap to Army for holding Rutgers to seven points through three quarters last week before allowing 21 in the fourth quarter. Having said that, neither of these teams plays defense all that well, and a late McManus field goal could decide this one in the game's final minute. Temple 34, Army 31.
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