Last week, the key for Temple was attempting to stop sizzling Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton. The Owls failed in the mission during a 45-19 loss to the Knights as Milton completed 16 of 23 passes for 208 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions while running for a touchdown.
Now the biggest challenge for the Owls is attempting to stop the leading rusher in American Athletic Conference history when Temple visits Tulsa in the regular season finale for both teams.
Temple (5-6, 3-4 AAC) needs to win to become bowl eligible for a fourth straight season. Tulsa (2-9, 1-6) has played better than its record, witnessed by last week’s 27-20 loss at dangerous South Florida.
The person on Temple’s radar is 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior D’Angelo Brewer.
Last week with 163 rushing yards against South Florida, he became the school’s and AAC’s leading career ground-gainer. Brewer has rushed for 3,662 career yards (5.1 avg.) and 22 touchdowns.
“He is tough, physical, does have breakaway speed, [and] their scheme allows him to have some natural creases,” Temple coach Geoff Collins said of Brewer earlier this week. “He is just a dynamic runner and once in the open field, he is tough to catch.”
Brewer rushed for 128 yards as a true freshman, 837 as a sophomore, 1,435 last year. This season he has rushed for 1,262 yards (5.0 avg.) and eight touchdowns.
“They have the best running back in the conference statistically,” said Temple defensive end Sharif Finch about Brewer. “He’s a downhill runner, a dangerous guy.”
One of the reasons Brewer is so important is that Tulsa needs to control the ball to keep its own defense off the field.
The Golden Hurricane are 10th in the AAC in scoring defense, allowing 37 points per game. They are last in total defense, surrendering 536.0 yards per game.
So this appears to be an opportunity for Temple to get its offense back on track after a hiccup last week against Central Florida.
The Owls committed five turnovers, including four interceptions from quarterback Frank Nutile, who all week has been waiting for the chance to redeem himself as he will make his fifth consecutive start for the injured Logan Marchi.
“I definitely made some mistakes decision-wise, and when I threw it was uncharacteristic of me,” Nutile said. “I didn’t locate the ball well, either.”
Temple had great difficulty dealing with UCF’s team speed, especially on defense.
Tulsa actually played a solid defensive game in last week’s loss to South Florida. The Golden Hurricane allowed just 82 yards of total offense in the second half. They will be looking for the same against the Owls.
“Offensively Temple keeps you off balance,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said earlier this week on the AAC media call. “With the change at quarterback they have become more explosive and I know they have weapons and we have to play well defensively to have a chance.”
They also have to run the ball well, as time of possession could be the key statistic.