PHILADELPHIA (CBS Philly)- The Temple football team has a unique opportunity in front of it this Saturday. Previous head coach Geoff Collins will make his return to Philadelphia as the head coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
It isn’t often that the schedule lines up such that the previous head coach comes back to face the players that he recruited to a school. But that is exactly what is happening. With the Owls and Yellow Jackets set to play on CBS Sports Network Saturday afternoon, CBSSN analyst Kevin Carter says that the game will mean just a bit more to the Owls players, because they are facing their old boss.
“It’s both personal and professional. Personally, you want to beat your friends more than you want to beat somebody you don’t know. It means a little more when you are playing somebody you know,” said Carter. “Number two, professionally, when coaches leave, there can be a little bit of a grudge that is there. But, also, you don’t want your old coach to come in and beat you with his new team. There may not be any bad blood between the players and former coaches, but just the same, you don’t want to lose to that person.”
Collins’ new team is in a rebuild, as Georgia Tech is coming off the Paul Johnson era, when the they ran the triple-option offense. Changing that personnel and recruiting new players to fit the style of play that Collins wants will take time. That has showed so far in the early-season results, with the Yellow Jackets dropping games to Clemson (no shame there) and the Citadel, while mustering just 14 points in a win over South Florida.
The Jackets, despite being from a power conference, enter the game as significant underdogs, with the Owls favored by nine points. There is a reason for that, as Temple enters the game having already knocked off Maryland in a defensive struggle. When he looks at the game, Carter sees the Owls holding an advantage in one big area.
“Winning the one-on-one matchup on the outside is what they need to do and what they should look to do to make things happen. They are not running the ball particularly well right now. Re’Mahn Davis has only 200 yards on the year. Throwing the football is really where it is at for them,” said Carter. “Anthony Russo is only completing about 60 percent of his passes, but he has passed for nearly 1,000 yards in just three games. He’s thrown 10 touchdowns and five interceptions, this team is going to let it fly. The offense is going to be wide open, and that is something that anybody that you’re playing is going to be worried about.”
The Temple passing game ranks in the top 10 so far this season, averaging 347.3 yards per game and 12.86 yards per completion. Junior quarterback Anthony Russo is a big part of the reason why. He has shown plenty of trust in his receivers, giving them opportunities to go get the ball over the top of smaller defenders. And for the most part it has worked this season. It’s a bit of a departure from recent years of Owls football, which featured a pounding running game and stubborn defense. The Owls run game, as Carter says, has struggled, averaging just 123 yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry this season.
Granted, the other half of that equation — a stubborn defense — is still here. Temple has allowed opponents just 3.1 yards per carry on the ground, and opposing quarterbacks have completed just 46.9 percent of their passes. The defensive front, led by tackle Ifeanyi Maijeh, has been stout, collecting seven sacks in the first three games. They go up against a Georgia Tech offensive line that has not protected their quarterback well so far this season, allowing nine sacks, an average of three per game.
The Tech offense relies far more on the ground game, with 42 rushing attempts per game so far. But they haven’t been overly successful, at just 4.1 yards per carry. The Owls enter Saturday’s game looking to put up a win against their former coach, and there is good reason to believe they can do just that.
Temple vs. Georgia Tech from Lincoln Financial Field is set for a 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time kick-off on CBS Sports Network.