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 8.3 yards per punt return and 18.5 yards per kick re‑ turn. Punter Alex Starzyk is averaging 42.2 yards per punt, and opponents have only been able to return four of his kicks. Kicker Austin Jones made 8 of 9 field goal attempts through the first five games. Notre Dame's kickoff coverage unit was strong during the first four games, surrendering just 18.4 yards per return. However, Clemson and Navy aver‑ aged 30.6 yards per runback. The unit faces another tough challenge in Thomas, who ran a kick back 100 yards for a score against Cincinnati and averaged 33.2 yards per return through five games. ADVANTAGE: Even COACHING Temple head coach Matt Rhule has a record of just 13‑16 during his three seasons at Temple, but that record does not do justice to the quality job he has done for the Owls. He has steadily rebuilt a program that went 4‑7 the year prior to his arrival. He has built up a unit that leads the American Athletic Con‑ ference in scoring defense and total defense. What separates Kelly and Notre Dame from Tem‑ ple is that the Irish have developed quality on both sides of the ball. Temple has improved offensively, but the Owls are still a work in progress on that side of the ball. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame INTANGIBLES After a brutal early season schedule, the Irish will finally have a chance to catch a breather thanks to a bye week following its matchup against USC. The Irish should come in rested and motivated against the Owls. It is a home game for Temple, but the Irish will have a strong following in the stands. Notre Dame also has a great deal more experience in big‑game atmospheres. Temple's home victory over Penn State was certainly big for the program, as was a road win over Cincinnati, but Notre Dame is a different animal. Advantage: Notre Dame Fifth-year senior defensive end Nate D. Smith — with 17 stops, six tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks — is part of a stout front seven that yielded only 97.2 rushing yards per game during the Owls' 5-0 start. PHOTO BY JOSEPH V. LABILITO/COURTESY TEMPLE UNIVERSITY

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