Temple Owls Look to Improve to 7-0 Against Division Rival ECU Pirates

Oct 17, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls running back Ryquell Armstead (25) runs the ball past UCF Knights defensive back D.J. Killings (24) during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field. The Temple Owls won 30-16. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
The Temple Owls look to keep their record spotless this weekend against the ECU Pirates and tight end Bryce Williams.

The Temple Owls look to keep their record spotless this weekend against the ECU Pirates and tight end Bryce Williams.

Oct 17, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls running back Ryquell Armstead (25) runs the ball past UCF Knights defensive back D.J. Killings (24) during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field. The Temple Owls won 30-16. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls running back Ryquell Armstead (25) runs the ball past UCF Knights defensive back D.J. Killings (24) during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field. The Temple Owls won 30-16. (Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

There is a unique prefix that is attached to the Temple Football team, one that has not been seen since 1979. It is the No. 22. The No. 22 Temple Owls travel to Greenville to take on division foe East Carolina. While the records are different, this just very well might be the most dangerous team that Temple has faced so far this season. Not necessarily because of the personnel, but for the situations that are surrounding this game.

East Carolina employs a two-quarterback system. Blake Kemp has gotten a majority of the time but has been plagued by inconsistency. James Summers, the other quarterback, has lit a spark at times in the ECU offense. Summers also had more passing attempts and yards than his counterpart Kemp in the Pirates last game against Tulsa. Summers can also be more of a threat running the ball than Blake Kemp.

One interesting matchup to watch is how the linebackers and the secondary cover East Carolina tight end Bryce Williams. Williams is a big target (6’6 258 pounds) who is very athletic and is second on the team in receptions (33). The best player to compare him to is Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert. Williams’s size can be a problem against members in the Temple secondary, and he has just enough speed that he can give linebackers some problems.

Oct 17, 2015; Greenville, NC, USA; East Carolina Pirates tight end Bryce Williams (80) is tackled after his 2nd quarter catch by the Tulsa Golden Hurricane defensive back Kerwin Thomas (2) at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2015; Greenville, NC, USA; East Carolina Pirates tight end Bryce Williams (80) is tackled after his 2nd quarter catch by the Tulsa Golden Hurricane defensive back Kerwin Thomas (2) at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. (Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

The best way to stop East Carolina is to stop their rushing attack. In the three losses that ECU suffered this season, they averaged only 66 yards rushing. Another thing to watch East Carolina in the red zone. They have scored on their last 19 red zone appearances. Temple is first in the conference in stopping red zone conversions. Something will have to give.

Temple’s offense will have to deal with an ECU defense that leads the American Athletic Conference in sacks (21). One way to slow down a good pass rush is the screen game. This is where Jahad Thomas comes in for the Owls. Thomas has not only done well running the ball, but he has also been good catching the ball out of the backfield. Temple offensive line is athletic enough to get out to the flats and receivers such as John Christopher, Robbie Anderson, and Ventell Bryant have blocked well down the field. Neutralizing the pass rush is just one aspect. ECU is also in the bottom third of the conference stopping the run. Navy was able to gain a lot of yardage on the ground in September and laid out a game plan on how to defeat the Pirates. Thomas and Ryquell Armstead have an opportunity to have success. If the Owls can establish the run, they can keep the ECU offense on the sideline. Nothing quiets a hostile crowd like a long drive.

After playing a physical University of Central Florida, the having to travel to ECU on a short week and all of the publicity and hype surrounding the Oct. 31 matchup against Notre Dame, it could very well be a trap game. This is the type of game where the coaching staff and senior leadership will have to keep the entire team focused on worrying about the Pirates. This game may very well come down to whoever has the last possession. One thing that the Owls have shown, as opposed to a couple of years ago, is they can win an extremely close game down the stretch.

Prediction: Temple 30, East Carolina 24

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