When Temple faces No. 19th-ranked Rutgers at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday, Oct. 20, it will be a huge game for the Owls. Temple (3-2 overall, 2-0 league) is coming off two consecutive Big East wins over South Florida and Connecticut respectively.
Temple will face an undefeated Rutgers team (6-0 overall, 3-0 league) from right up the New Jersey turnpike in Piscataway, N.J. The game will be televised on 6ABC at noon. In addition to the Owls, this should be a big contest for freshman linebacker Nate D. Smith, who hails from Highland, N.J.
“I’m looking forward to the game,” Smith said. “This game means a lot to us. We have to go out and execute our plays. Hopefully, we’ll come out with a “W.” Everybody is hungry. We can’t wait to get out there on the field.”
Smith, a 6-foot, 230-pound freshman, has made a tremendous impact on Temple’s defense. The Owls linebacker averages 8.6 tackles a game. He leads the team with 43 total tackles and 31 solos. He’s clearly one of the top freshmen in the Big East.
Smith has seen a dramatic improvement in Temple’s overall play since the team’s 24-13 loss to Penn State nearly a month ago. The Owls appear to be playing their best football of the season right now.
“We have better communications in terms of where people are supposed to be,” Smith said. “We got it all sorted out now.”
Temple head coach Steve Addazio knows his team will be facing a big challenge playing Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have some terrific players such as running back Jawan Jamison (665 yards, 158 carries, three touchdowns), wide receiver Brandon Coleman (382 yards, 24 receptions, five TDs), quarterback Gary Nova (106-of-174 for 1,271 yards, 11 TDs) and linebacker Khaseem Greene (65 total tackles, 3.5 sacks).
“I look at them on defense,” Addazio said. “They have eight returning starters. They have Khaseem Greene, Jamal Merrell, Steve Beauharnais and Logan Ryan. They’re outstanding players. They look like great, great prospects. They play with a great motor. I like the way they close to the ball.
“On offense, they return six starters. Their quarterback Gary Nova seems to be playing quite well. He’s quite accurate. Jawan Jamison is a fantastic back. He has great balance and great power. They have a big offensive line. I like their tight end (D.C.) Jefferson. He’s a really good pass receiver, but an exceptional blocker. Brandon Coleman, their wide receiver, is a playmaker. He has great size.
“So, when I look at this team, I think they’re fantastic on special teams, too. I know they blocked a field goal for a touchdown against Syracuse, but just as a whole I think their special teams plays fast. I think they’re complete and it will be a tremendous challenge for us.”