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Scouting Report: Temple Owls (2-1)

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The Miami Hurricanes, ranked No. 20, are preparing for their inaugural road test of the 2023 season as they journey to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to clash with the Temple Owls. With a flawless 3-0 record, Miami has set an early-season benchmark and is aiming to achieve a 4-0 start under head coach Mario Cristobal in his second season at the helm, a feat not achieved since 2017.

On the flip side, Temple’s 2023 campaign has been a rollercoaster ride. The Owls opened their season with a nail-biting 24-21 victory over Akron, a humbling 36-7 loss to Rutgers, and then a convincing 41-9 triumph over Norfolk State. Head coach Stan Drayton, now in his second season, is determined to build on last year’s 3-9 performance.

The history between Miami and Temple dates back to their days as conference rivals in the Big East. During that era, Miami dominated, winning all 12 conference meetings against Temple from 1992 to 2003. The closest margin of victory for Miami during that span was a 44-21 win in Philadelphia in 2002. Their last encounter in 2005 witnessed Miami securing a convincing 34-3 road victory.

Now, let’s delve into the pivotal matchups for this showdown:

Key Matchups to Keep an Eye On

Miami’s air assault, led by quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, is firing on all cylinders. Van Dyke boasts impressive statistics, having thrown for 822 yards with eight touchdowns and just one interception, all while completing an outstanding 76 percent of his passes. He enjoys robust support from a talented receiving corps, featuring Xavier Restrepo, Jacolby George, and Colbie Young. On the opposing front, Temple’s pass defense ranks a modest 65th nationally in pass efficiency. However, linebacker Diwun Black stands out as a formidable performer, applying pressure with 11 quarterback pressures.

Miami’s ground game, a well-oiled machine thanks to a sturdy offensive line and a committee of running backs, is averaging an impressive 6.4 yards per carry. Conversely, Temple’s run defense has faced challenges, conceding an average of 152 rushing yards per game, placing them at the 94th spot in national rankings. Leading Temple’s run defense is linebacker Jordan Magee, but Miami’s formidable offensive line gives them the upper hand in this contest.

In the passing game, Temple’s quarterback, E.J. Warner, has grappled with inconsistency in 2023, completing only 52.5 percent of his passes. Miami’s pass defense, fortified by an athletic defensive line and resolute safeties, should have the advantage in this aspect.

When Temple takes to the ground, their rushing attack, spearheaded by promising true freshman Joquez Smith, has shown signs of improvement. Nevertheless, Miami’s run defense has been exceptional, allowing a mere 60 rushing yards per game, securing the seventh rank nationally.

Weather could impact the game, with the forecast predicting chilly and wet conditions in Philadelphia. Inclement weather may disrupt offensive ball handling and pose challenges for defensive players.

Miami’s special teams unit, featuring kicker Andy Borregales and returner Brashard Smith, has consistently delivered reliability. In comparison, Temple’s special teams, led by Miami transfer kicker Camden Price and returner Sam Martin, lag behind Miami in all aspects of the game.

Players to Keep an Eye On for the Temple Owls

E.J. Warner – Quarterback: Temple’s sophomore quarterback, E.J. Warner, the son of NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, has led the Owls since his true freshman season in 2022. Last season, he threw for 3,028 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, completing 60.5 percent of his passes. This year, Warner has accumulated 760 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions, completing 52.5 percent of his passes.

Joquez Smith – Running Back: A true freshman from Tampa Jesuit High School, Smith is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds. His low center of gravity makes him elusive and difficult to tackle. In the recent game against Norfolk State, Smith earned the starting position, rushing for an impressive 142 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries. He also showcased his receiving skills with one catch for a 15-yard touchdown, providing a significant boost to Temple’s running game.

Allan Haye – Defensive Tackle: Haye, a transfer from Miami, has secured a starting position for Temple in 2023, amassing 137 defensive snaps thus far. Haye has tallied seven tackles and one tackle for loss this season. Pro Football Focus has credited him with five quarterback pressures. Notably, Haye is highly motivated to excel against Miami, his former team.

Diwun Black – Linebacker: Black, an impressive outside linebacker standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 230 pounds, began his college journey with the Florida Gators. In the current season, he has notched 11 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks, establishing himself as Temple’s primary pass rusher. Pro Football Focus has acknowledged Black’s 11 quarterback pressures, leading the team. However, he has grappled with missed tackles, recording five misses so far this year.

Jordan Magee – Linebacker: Magee, a seasoned linebacker measuring 6-foot-3 and weighing 225 pounds, excels in the middle linebacker role. In the previous season, Magee amassed 86 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks, underscoring his NFL potential. He possesses an astute sense for the ball in run defense and displays competence in coverage.

Tywan Francis – Safety: Francis, a safety measuring 5-foot-11 and weighing 195 pounds, leads Temple in tackles with 23 this season. He also boasts the only interception for the Owls’ defense. In his sixth year at the college level, Francis has amassed 199 tackles in his career, commencing his college journey at Colorado State. He plays a versatile role, contributing equally in the box and as a free safety, and is recognized for his physicality in supporting the run.

Game Details:

Miami enters this game as heavy favorites, boasting a talent advantage at almost every position. Temple, while displaying promise, faces a daunting uphill battle at home.

Date: Saturday, September 23rd

Time: 3:30 P.M. EST

Where to Watch: ESPN2/WatchESPN

Game Odds: Miami -23.5 (-115), Over/Under 47.5

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