True freshman quarterback PJ Walker excelled in his second career start. He completed 10 of 16 attempts and ranked up 203 yards through the air during Temples 33-14 victory over Army. His two touchdowns bettered his one interception, as he looked very poised on the field.
This win was Temple’s first home victory in six straight home games played at Lincoln Financial Field. It was also coach Matt Rhule’s first victory as the Temple head coach giving the Owls a record of 1-6.
Walker wasn’t the only guy on Temple’s offense that made his presence be known. Junior receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick topped all wideouts in yards with 128 and he was able to link up with Walker for an impressive 37 yard score on a fake QB dive.
Army did not have quite the same success at the quarterback position as Temple. Starting quarterback Angel Santiago left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury leaving sophomore Kelvin White and freshmen Tevin Long to split snaps for the remainder of the game.
It would be the Owl’s defensive performance that made the real difference in this game. Temple was able to force four Army turnovers last Saturday, a feat which has not been easy for the Owls thus far, as they have only been able to force three total turnovers before their matchup with Army.
The Owls were able to score 13 points off of the two Army fumbles and put an end to any rally attempts by the Black Knights after picking off White twice in the fourth.
Not to mention Army’s usually potent rushing attack, that averages a league high 352.3 yards per game, was held to only 81 in the first half. They would eventually end with 255 yards on the ground, but Temple’s ability to frustrate the Black Knights triple option early was key in gaining the lead.
Sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich was a defensive standout recording 13 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Matakevich currently leads the entire nation in solo tackles with 78.
It was the Owls defense that allowed for their offense to gain confidence.
There is not enough that can be said about the amount of hope Walker’s success has given Temple fans. The Owls have been lacking a solid presence at the quarterback position over the years, but they have seemed to find something good in the former Newark Star-Leger’s 2012 New Jersey high school football player of the year.
The 2013 season proved to be no different through the first five games. Junior Connor Reilly started the year as Temple’s signal caller; however, a nagging knee injury and poor execution led to Reilly being replaced by Walker in the middle of Louisville’s rout of Temple two games ago.
Lets face it: Temple has an extremely young roster. They currently field a team of 33 underclassmen, which makes them the second youngest team in the nation, only behind Virginia. It is going to take some time to build team chemistry and to develop this young roster.
It seems as though the Owls are putting their best foot forward starting Walker under center.
Hopefully their confidence continues to grow, as they get ready to travel to Texas to face SMU Saturday October 26 at 3 pm in Gerald Ford Stadium.