Temple went 2-2 in its nonconference schedule, and now it's on to conference play when the Owls host Southern Methodist (2-2) in Saturday's noon American Athletic Conference game at Lincoln Financial Field.

In the nonconference schedule, the Owls lost to Army and Penn State and defeated Stony Brook and Charlotte.

The final eight games will be against AAC teams as Temple attempts to defend its East Division title.

Temple and SMU are among seven of the 12 AAC teams that have yet to play a conference game.

With the start of the conference season, it's a new beginning for Temple, although coach Matt Rhule has a different view.

"I don't see is that way," Rhule said during Monday's AAC teleconference. "This is the next game. I am proud how the kids competed the four games, and to me it's the next game and the first conference game."

Rhule said during the preseason that he hoped to have a good idea about the players who would be able to help during the conference schedule.

While he insisted that the lineup will always be fluid, Rhule said he has a good idea about the Owls' depth.

"There are still guys improving and guys' roles will change, especially with injury. But we feel we kind of have our team, and our depth is pretty much set."

Rhule said one priority is to upgrade the pass rush. In last week's 48-20 win over Charlotte, the Owls recorded one sack, and that was from tight end Romond Deloatch, who saw his first time at defensive end as well.

Temple is ninth in the AAC with five sacks.

Among the positive developments was the play of right tackle Leon Johnson. Rhule wasn't sure he could play last week due to injury, but he started and was a major contributor.

"Leon was the best of anybody [on offense] in terms of effort and physicality," Rhule said. "He looked close to 100 percent."

As for injuries, Rhule isn't sure if defensive lineman Jullian Taylor, who missed the Charlotte game due to injury, will be back. He said that receiver Ventell Bryant and defensive back Kareem Ali will likely be out again due to injury. Bryant has played in one game and Ali in two.

@sjnard