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AAC: Analytics helped Temple vs. ECU

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ECU running back Hussein Howe (28) is brought down in the open field against Temple on Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Temple football coach Geoff Collins said Monday during the American Athletic Conference teleconference that his Owls had 10 defensive linemen play more than 22 snaps Saturday in a 34-10 win against East Carolina in Greenville.

Temple rushed for 179 yards, while the Pirates finished with 22 carries for just 34 yards.

Collins said the Owls’ D-line rotation played a big role in stuffing ECU’s rushers, but he also talked about the emphasis he typically puts on analytics during midweek preparation.

“I got asked about the number of tackles for losses that we had Saturday, and a lot of those was where we used data that said here is where they are going to run the ball and we got the right stunt or the right blitz or coverage check to take advantage of that information,” Collins, a first-year head coach, said. “We’ve always done it, and now it has just become a little more mainstream.”

ECU quarterback and team leading rusher Thomas Sirk, in particular, ran for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the previous game against South Florida. Sacks and pursuit by Temple led to Sirk’s rushing total being in the negative (minus-14 yards) for the first time this season.

“It always starts with our players and I thought our players did a great job studying the game plan and studying the opponent to pick up any little thing they could,” Collins said. “But at the end of the day, the execution was how hard our kids played and defended the run. We had some things dialed up, but our kids took information and applied it and played at a really high level.”

Division races

At the moment and possibly for the rest of the season, it’s all about the Sunshine State in the AAC East division.

The American is the only league in the country with three teams still undefeated. USF and Central Florida are two of them and they both are in the AAC East, but of the other four teams in the division, none have a winning overall or conference record.

USF (5-0 overall) and UCF (4-0) are both 2-0 in conference play. At the bottom are Cincinnati (2-4, 0-2) and Connecticut (1-4, 0-3), and East Carolina and Temple are both 1-2 in the American.

In the West, always-steady Navy is again in a good position at 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the league. Houston is off to a 2-0 AAC start, and three squads are 1-1.

Despite being in the lead, Navy veteran coach Ken Niumatalolo pointed out Monday that Memphis was the AAC West preseason favorite and the Tigers will be tough for his team to beat in Memphis this weekend.

“We know this is a critical game for both of us and with goals of winning the conference, because obviously you have win your division first,” Niumatalolo said. “That starts with Memphis because they have us at their place, and it’s always tough to win on the road. I expect it to be a battle.”

Memphis was listed Monday as a 4-point favorite for the matchup of teams with a combined 9-1 record.

Homecoming at night

After consecutive noon kickoffs at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, it was announced Monday that the Pirates will have a night game Oct. 21 against BYU.

The game will kick off at 7 p.m. and be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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