Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2015 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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GAME PREVIEW: TEMPLE AAC favorite in Cincinnati at their place, they're not walking around sur‑ prised." The Temple athletic department finds itself on the opposite end of the spectrum from Notre Dame's previ‑ ous opponent, USC. The Owls gave head coach Matt Rhule a four‑year extension following just the second season of his tenure, which ended in a 6‑6 finish — but now that Temple is off to such a hot start, it might not be long until the Power Five schools begin calling anyway. "That contract extension before he even had a winning season here tells you everything you need to know about him," Narducci said. "They think very highly of Matt. He's a guy that has stressed accountability and toughness. He's also a guy that play‑ ers like, as tough as he can be; they've certainly bought in on what he does." Offensively, the captain of the ship is junior quarterback P.J. Walker. A pre‑ season third‑team All‑AAC selection by college football pundit Phil Steele, Walker completed 78 of 126 passes (61.9 percent) for 914 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions during the Owls' season‑opening five‑ game win streak. He suffered some ups and downs in his sophomore sea‑ son after a strong freshman campaign, but Narducci said new quarterbacks coach Glenn Thomas — who spent the last four seasons mentoring the Atlanta Falcons' signal‑callers — has helped Walker right the ship. "I think he's been solid," Narducci said. "The thing about him, last year he tried to do too much. And it showed in his 13 touchdowns to 15 interceptions, after having 20 to eight as a freshman. "But Thomas has really made a dif‑ ference in Walker. He's managing the game a lot better, and he's cut down on the mistakes. He's just been solid for them." The backfield is headed by junior Jahad Thomas, a 5‑10, 180‑pound run‑ ning back with 557 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 114 attempts through five games. He played as an all‑purpose back in high school, but shifted to the secondary at Temple be‑ fore moving back to the offensive side of the ball. "I'm not saying he's a big surprise, Facts & Figures NOTRE DAME VS. TEMPLE Date: Oct. 31, 2015. Site: Lincoln Financial Field (69,176). Kickoff: TBA. Television: TBA. Radio: This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 129). Series Facts: This is the second meeting be‑ tween Notre Dame and Temple. The Irish lead the series 1‑0. Coaches: Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (51‑21, sixth season); Temple — Matt Rhule (14‑16, third year). Noting Temple: The Owls forced 5.8 three‑and‑ outs per game through their first five contests, tied with Memphis and West Virginia for the ninth‑best rate nationally … Through Oct. 14, the Owls were one of only four teams nationally (along with FSU, LSU and Baylor) to have led each game they'd played in by at least 13 points at one time … UMass scored more points on Notre Dame's defense (27) this year than Temple's (23).

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