Gameday Preview: UMass

Matt Vender, Recruiting Analyst
Owl Scoop

At a Glance

Massachusetts (0-3) vs. Temple (1-1)

Friday, Sept. 15, Lincoln Financial Field, 7 p.m.

Television: ESPNU

Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Head coaches:

Temple

Geoff Collins (Western Carolina ’94)

Overall record: 1-1 (first season)

Record at Temple: 1-1 (first season)

UMass

Mark Whipple (Brown ’79)

Overall record: 129-90 (20th season)

Record at UMass: 57-57 (10th season)

Key Players

Key Players

Temple

QB Logan Marchi (519 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers on 39 of 69 passing [56.5 completion percentage])

WR/DE Keith Kirkwood (eight receptions for 121 yards [15.1 yards per catch], one touchdown)

WR Isaiah Wright (five receptions for 111 yards [22.2 yards per catch])

RB Ryquell Armstead (919 yards, 14 touchdowns and averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 2016; 31 carries for 86 yards and 2.8 yards per touch in 2017)

UMass

QB Andrew Ford (827 yards, four touchdowns and one interception on 67 of 103 passing [65 completion percentage])

RB Marquis Young (45 carries for 148 yards, four touchdowns and 3.3 yards per carry)

TE Adam Breneman (21 receptions for 323 yards – 15.4 yards per catch)

WR Andy Isabella (16 catches for 246 yards, three touchdowns [15.4 yards per catch])

When Temple’s on offense

The Temple offense under new offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude has produced just 16 points in each of its first two games.

In the first half against Notre Dame, Temple found success in the run game. Junior running back Ryquell Armstead ran 11 times for 60 yards and the offensive line held its own. Even in the second half, when the Irish shut down Armstead, David Hood and Jager Gardner managed to break out for some runs.

Last week, however, Villanova, an FCS opponent, completely shut down Temple’s running backs. The Owls averaged a mere 2.9 yards per carry in the 16-13 win. Armstead, who suffered an unspecified injury against Notre Dame, was limited to 19 yards on 12 carries – good for just 1.6 yards per carry. Hood was Temple’s leading rusher against Villanova with four carries for 21 yards after starting in place of Armstead.

Collins said that his offense was able to run whenever they wanted to against Notre Dame. Missed assignments and schematic problems were the two main issues in the run game, Patenaude told reporters after Tuesday’s practice.

While Collins did like the way that Temple ran the ball against Notre Dame, he acknowledged that a strong run game should be part of the team’s identity.

“That will be corrected and we’re going to run the football,” Collins said during Tuesday’s weekly press conference.

As Collins alluded to, the key for Temple will be establishing a run game against a UMass defense that allows 210 yards per game on the ground and 4.8 yards per carry.

A new element that could be added to Temple’s run game is a fully healthy redshirt-sophmore quarterback Logan Marchi, who has been nursing an ankle injury dating back to preseason camp.

“You haven’t seen the true Logan Marchi yet,” Patenaude said.

Collins said that running with Marchi has been “heavily discussed” at Edberg-Olson Hall.

While Marchi has missed some throws, he has been solid for Temple in his first two career starts. He became the first Owls quarterback to throw for more than 200 yards without an interception in consecutive games since Mike McGann did so against Cincinnati and Syracuse in 2002.

For now, Marchi has done enough to hold off skilled true freshman quarterback Todd Centeio and redshirt junior Frank Nutile.

After losing both Romond Deloatch and Colin Thompson to graduation at tight end, Temple is still looking for a receiving threat to develop at Ed Foley’s position group. The Owls’ coaching staff has spoken highly of redshirt freshman Kenny Yeboah, but the Parkland (Pa.) High School product has dealt with drop issues. Yeboah dropped a pass in the end zone against Notre Dame and had a ball go off his facemask against Villanova. Overall, Temple’s tight ends have combined for one reception for 10 yards. Yeboah is the lone tight end with a catch. Redshirt junior Chris Myarick, primarily a blocker, and Yeboah are the only two tight ends on the Owls’ “above the line” depth chart.

As for Temple’s receiving corps, Patenaude said that the Owls have “five legitimate dudes” at receiver with another “three or four” developing. With the depth at receiver, Marchi has spread the ball around. Marchi connected with nine different receivers against Notre Dame and eight against Villanova. This trend will likely continue.

When Temple’s on defense

The main concern heading into the season for Temple’s defense was the inexperienced group of linebackers. The Owls lost three starters at linebacker from last season – Avery Williams, Stephaun Marshall and Jarred Alwan.

Notre Dame exposed Temple’s youth at linebacker. Collins often brought up “misfits,” meaning players going through the wrong gaps. The Owls’ first-year coach also said that the tackling must improve after the loss at Notre Dame. However, Andrew Thacker’s group, along with the rest of the defense, showed improvements last week against Villanova.

Pro Football Focus named sophomore linebacker Shaun Bradley to its American Athletic Conference Team of The Week. Senior defensive end Jacob Martin was also included on the team.

Collins also made one change to Temple’s starting linebackers – redshirt sophomore Chapelle Russell replaced redshirt freshman Isaiah Graham-Mobley. Russell finished with 10 solo tackles, including one tackle for a loss.

The linebackers have struggled at times in pass coverage and will be tested again this week by tight end and Penn State transfer Adam Breneman, a former four-star recruit. Breneman led UMass in receiving last season and already has 21 catches for 323 yards this season.

Temple’s defense limited Villanova to just 20 rushing yards last week. The Owls should be able to shut down UMass’s run game as well. The Minutemen have averaged only 91 rushing yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry through three games.

The Owls have gotten production from multiple edge rushers in the rotation. Senior Sharif Finch (two tackles for a loss, three quarterback hits), redshirt sophomore Dana Levine (one TFL, one sack), redshirt freshman Quincy Roche (2.5 TFL, one sack) and the aforementioned Martin (one TFL, one sack) have given defensive coordinator Taver Johnson the opportunity to rotate his defensive line frequently.

As for cornerback, graduate transfer Mike Jones, who had an interception against Notre Dame, and redshirt senior Artrel Foster have been the starters in each of the first two games. Sophomore Linwood Crump has also seen extended action. The Owls will likely need to find some production from another corner beyond Jones, Foster and Crump in the final tune up before conference play begins.

And Collins often says the safety duo of junior Delvon Randall and senior Sean Chandler is among the best in the country. Randall leads the team in tackles with 19, while Chandler is second with 15.

After allowing 382 passing yards against Villanova, Temple will be challenged in the air by UMass. Quarterback Andrew Ford, a transfer from Virginia Tech, has surpassed 236 passing yards or more in each of the first three games. Ford has not committed a turnover since the August 26 season opener against Hawaii.

Extra Points

Temple and UMass have only played once – an Owls' win, 25-23, at Gillette Stadium in 2015. With an extra point attempt blocked and returned by safety Will Hayes, the Minutemen’s lead was reduced to one point. Then Temple went down the field and Austin Jones knocked down a game-winning field goal with 12 seconds remaining … Since 2015, Temple is 4-1 in Friday night games … UMass ranks No. 26 among FBS programs with 304.3 passing yards per game … The Minutemen have two Philadelphia natives on their roster in sophomore offensive lineman Ray Thomas-Ishman, Sr. and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Charly Timite.

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