Inside the Nest Host
For a third-straight Saturday, Temple football found the second half to be an unfortunate part of the game. The Owls (1-4, 1-4) took a surprising 13-10 lead over nationally-ranked SMU (7-1, 4-1) into halftime, but the second half was a different story. The No. 18 Mustangs outscored the Owls 37-10 in the second half in route to a 47-23 win.
“Obviously disappointed,” Head Coach Rod Carey said postgame. “We had our chances.”
The Owls have now been outscored a combined 96-24 in the second half of their last three games combined -- all losses. Moments following the opening kickoff, it was announced that 15 players wouldn’t play in Saturday’s game due to COVID protocol including starting linebacker Jordan Magee. The Owls had 13 players out last week due to COVID protocol. In addition to the COVID restrictions, Temple lost a few key starters due to injury in the first half that shriveled the depth chart even further.
“When you’re down this many guys, you’re going to run out of gas,” Carey said.
The injury issues for Temple are best explained as part of the Owls first touchdown. On the first offensive play from scrimmage, Quarterback Trad Beatty connected with Randle Jones on a quick pass to the outside that ended in a 75-yard touchdown. But by halftime, both players were injured and ruled out for the rest of the game. Now the concern is how much time they will miss.
“They’re out,” said a frustrated Carey. “I don’t know (how long), but they’re out.”
Due to Beatty’s injury, the only healthy quarterback was Re-Al Mitchell, who threw for 82 yards and touchdown. Mitchell also ran for 66 yards averaging nearly four rushing yards per attempt.
“(I felt) more comfortable than I thought (I would) honestly,” Mitchell said.
“(Beatty and Mitchell) were both a lot calmer,” Carey said. “More sense of comfort. I was pleased to see the improvement.”
Due to Beatty’s injury, Anythony Russo got dressed during halftime in case he was needed in an emergency role. Carey stressed Russo is still unable to throw the football due to his bad shoulder.
“We would have used him to hand the ball off,” Carey said. “We wouldn’t have run him or thrown him.”
Temple is down several key guys on both sides of the football due to injuries and COVID, but they’re not making any excuses.
“Just our preparation and making sure the next man up is ready for the opportunity,” Linebacker Will Kwenkeu said. “We just have to make sure whoever is up next is ready.”
That will be a key message, especially in the running back room with the departure of Ray Davis this week to the transfer portal. Each active running back on the roster saw action on Saturday.
“I thought the running backs ran hard,” Carey said. “We ran harder. I was pleased with that. In some critical situations, we’re not running the ball as hard as we need to.”
Davis’ departure was a shock to Tayvon Ruley, who saw the bulk of the runs on Saturday gaining 66 yards on 15 attempts with a touchdown. Ruley talked to Davis on Wednesday following the news in preparation for this week’s game.
“He said listen don’t worry about me,” Ruley said. “Do what you have to do.”
The motto of doing what you have to do may be a good mindset for every Temple player moving forward with so many new names seeing game action.
“Stay healthy, get my body right, be ready for next week,” Mitchell said.
Temple will be under the lights next Saturday at UCF for a 7:30 kickoff on ESPNU. It is Temple’s final road game of the season.