Temple vs. Toledo: Boca Raton Bowl Recap, Score, What's Next for the Owls and Rockets
Boca Raton Bowl Recap
Score: Toledo 32, Temple 17And You Care Because ... The Jason Candle era at Toledo is off to a flying start. Candle, promoted to replace new Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, led the Rockets to a comfortable victory over Temple to reach 10 wins for the first time since 2001. After spotting the Owls an early 3-0 lead, Toledo tallied 12 unanswered points in the second quarter on a safety, a Phillip Ely touchdown pass to Corey Jones and a Jameson Vest field goal to build a lead it would never squander. Temple got as close as 12-9 on a pair of Aaron Jones field goals in the third quarter. But the Rockets shut the door on the comeback bid with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, Ely to Cody Thompson from 80 yards out and a pair of Kareem Hunt touchdown runs.
What Else? - Despite the wet conditions, Ely was sharp, connecting on 20-of-28 passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
- Temple QB P.J. Walker, though, had a rough night, going 23-of-42 for 236 yards, no touchdowns and a pick.
- Hunt delivered on the ground for the Rockets, chugging for a game-high 82 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
- While Toledo averaged just over seven yards a play, Temple was locked in neutral at only 4.5 yards a pop.
- There was just one turnover all night, surprising considering the poor weather and slick ball.
- Toledo committed nine penalties for 63 yards, while Temple had just four infractions for 30 yards.
- The Owls top offensive weapon, RB Jahad Thomas, was injured in the early going and finished with a season-low five rushing yards on eight carries.
- Temple star LB Tyler Matakevich made a team-high 12 tackles.
Game Rating: C- ... It was supposed to be a defensive tussle. Mother Nature made sure of it for the first three quarters. Toledo and especially Temple had all kinds of problems mounting drives on a sloppy track. The game did become compelling in the final minutes, as the Owls pulled to within eight with three minutes left, and almost recovered a nicely executed onside kick attempt.
What's next for ToledoWhat does new head man Jason Candle have to work with? Phillip Ely is done, but the quarterback situation should be fine with Logan Woodside, who redshirted this season and should be ready to make the offense roll. Is star RB Kareem Hunt coming back for another year? Terry Swanson can handle the work if not, and Damion Jones-Moore can run it, too. The line is going to be tremendous with four starters back, and the receiving corps has promise with steady Corey Jones and outside target Cody Thompson overcoming the loss of Alonzo Russell.
The O should be great, the D needs time. Three of the top four tackler are gone, but DeJuan Watson is a good one at one safety spot and Jaylen Coleman should be a start if he can come back healthy after missing most of the year hurt. Ja'Wuan Woodley is a good one in the middle of the linebacking corps, but the group will have to carry the D for a while with three starters gone off the line including stars Trent Voss on the end and Orion Jones on the nose. PK Jameson Vest had a huge freshman season, but the punting game needs more out of Nick Ellis.
What's next for Temple?Now that QB P.J. Walker and RB Jahad Thomas are entering their senior years, the Owls ought to be optimistic about the direction of the offense. The former high school teammates are the centerpieces of Matt Rhule's system. However, the line could be the Achilles' heel, since LG Shahbaz Ahmed and all-league C Kyle Friend and RT Eric Lofton have used up their eligibility.
Phil Snow is an ace defensive coordinator. But he'll really be tested in 2016. All four of the Owls named First Team All-American Athletic Conference, including four-year standout LB Tyler Matakevich, have played their final games at the school. Early on, Snow will lean a little harder on CB Sean Chandler and ends Haason Reddick and Praise Martin-Oguike.