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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Players to watch: Seniors need to step up against Temple


The Cougars’ seniors need to step up against the temple Owls on Saturday of they hope to come back home with a win. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

The Cougars need multiple players to step up Saturday if they want to bounce back after a loss to Texas Tech, which broke their 16-game home win streak at TDECU Stadium last Saturday.

The offense was a key component to their loss against the Red Raiders, but the defense allowed over 500 yards against head coach Kliff Kingburry’s spread attack. This week, they take on the Temple Owls at Century Link field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cougars can take advantage of the Owls lackluster offense and defense.

If Houston can get key players to not only do their job, but also motivate the team, it might be enough to claim a victory Saturday.

Matthew Adams

Senior linebacker Matthew Adams has made the most out of his senior year with the Cougars. Not only is he a team captain and the unquestionable leader of the defense, but he also leads the team in tackles with 34 tackles in three games.

Adams is now playing with a chip on his shoulder after far less coverage to start the season compared to last year’s ranked season, and a loss at home to end their extraordinary play at TDCEU Stadium.

“I think this year we playing with some edge on defense,” Adams said. “We don’t feel respected anymore and we feel like underdogs going into the game.”

If Adams can lead the defense to stopping the run and holding Temple to minimal yards in the air, there is no way last year’s conference champs will stand a chance against the Cougar defense.

Temple is struggling on the ground with only 69.8 yards per game, so it should be easy for Adams to help plug the holes along the line of scrimmage and force the Owls to throw the ball.

The Houston native is a constant in the defense this season and has been a dominant presence on the field since game one for the team. He will need to keep it up if the Cougars want to have a chance for a victory on Saturday.

Kyle Allen

The biggest story line of this week is what will become of the the Texas A&M transfer-turned starting quarterback for the Cougars, junior Kyle Allen, after he found himself benched against the Red Raiders.

It has been an up-and-down season to say the least for the Arizona native. So far this season, he threw two interceptions in his first game against Arizona, was almost perfect with a 93.9 completion percentage against Rice and threw two more interceptions against Texas Tech.

I think head coach Major Applewhite will play it safe and stick with the up-and-down quarterback just to give him another chance to get things right against a defense that is nowhere near as dominant as they were last year.

Temple has allowed 31.5 points per game and do not seem to have the manpower to handle the Cougars’ receiving unit, including seniors Steven Dunbar and Linell Bonner.

Look for Allen to bounce back and secure his job as starter for at least another week after what should be a good opportunity for him to light up the scoreboard.

Nick Thurman

Senior defensive tackle Nick Thurman was probably the player of the game last week against the Red Raiders. He was making plays all over the field and even came up with a sack by the end of the game.

Although the defense struggled to stop the high-powered Red Raider offense after the first two quarters, they exerted a valiant effort to get the ball back to the Cougar offense throughout the whole game.

Thurman finished the game with three total tackles, including a sack, and walked away from the game with what was probably the best effort on defense.

If Thurman and All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver can be a presence on the line, they can help stop the run and get big plays in the backfield by forcing the Owls to throw the ball.

Now that he is a starter, Thurman is primed to finish his college career with career bests in playing time, tackles and sacks. If he sticks to his fundamentals and plays his role correctly, then the Cougars should cruise to an easy win and head home to play SMU next week after a conference victory.

The Cougars are set to play the Temple Owls at 11 a.m. Saturday in Philadelphia.

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