Temple Owls look to avoid letdown against underdog Charlotte 49ers
PHILADELPHIA, (C+P) — After an early season bye week, the Temple Owls (3-0) will travel to North Carolina to take on the Charlotte 49ers (2-2) Friday night at Jerry Richardson Stadium. The game will be the second night game played in the stadium.
“It was a well-deserved rest for our guys,” Matt Rhule said during the American Athletic Conference Teleconference Monday. “We had three really tough, hard-fought games, and I think our guys just needed to let their bodies recoup a little bit and get ready for this stretch of nine games coming up for us.”
Charlotte is playing its first season of FBS football. In their first year in Conference-USA, the team has been adjusting to the new level of competition. Last Saturday, the 49ers fell to Florida Atlantic 17-7.
The 49ers offense has had a rough start to the 2015 campaign. The team has turned the ball over 20 times (8 fumbles and 12 interceptions). Charlotte has used multiple quarterbacks this season. They have mainly used Matt Johnson and Lee McNeil. Through the air, the two have completed a less than stellar 49 percent of their passes. The team’s primary target will be Austin Duke. His 21 receptions lead the 49ers. Charlotte’s best offensive player has been running back Kalif Phillips. The junior is coming off a 29 carry, 165 yards rushing performance against Florida Atlantic. In a game in which Charlotte will want to minimize mistakes and keep the ball away from the Temple offense, it would not be surprising to see him getting the same amount of carries.
While the 49ers offense has had its troubles, the team’s strength has been in its defense. Statistically speaking, Charlotte’s defense right now is better than Notre Dame, Mississippi State and Oklahoma. They are currently tied for second in the nation in tackles for loss and tied for third in the country in takeaways (11).
“We watched the game on Saturday” stated Rhule. “Defensively, they held a very good FAU team to under 200 yards, the second time they did that this year. We’ll have our work cut out for us on offense.”
Temple’s interior offensive linemen will have another tough challenge. This week, it is Larry Ogunjobi. Ogunjobi can be very disruptive up the middle and has the quickness and power to make it difficult for a quarterback to step up comfortably in the pocket. So far this season, he has 25 total tackles (7.5 of which were for a loss) and a sack.
On paper, the Owls have the edge on offense, defense, special teams and coaching. This game can go one of two ways. If the Owls come out flat and do not take care of the ball, it will look a lot like the UMass game. If the team plays at the level it is capable of playing; the game could very well be decided by the third quarter. The defense will get its share of turnovers, and the offense should be able to capitalize on it. Look for Temple to move to 4-0.
Prediction: Temple 30, Charlotte 13