Temple’s defense scored its first points of the season when Nate D. Smith, who has played all over the field this season, scooped up Army reserve quarterback Kelvin White’s fumble and rambled 19 yards for a touchdown that extended the Owls’ lead to 26-0 late in the first half of Saturday’s 33-14 win.
Smith, who had been moved from middle linebacker to defensive end after Sean Daniels suffered a season-ending injury, was the Owls’ game captain.
This season has been an interesting ride for the sophomore. Last spring he was demoted from the starting lineup for running afoul of team rules, but he worked himself back. Now one of the biggest decisions the Owls will have to make is where to play him.
“For a guy who was suspended for the spring game and to now be the game captain for the first win of the season, I think that shows you the development and maturity he had,” coach Matt Rhule said. “Before you can win, you have to have some discipline and some accountability. He’s really buying in now.”
Rhule did not say where Smith would play next week against Southern Methodist.
Smith does have a preference.
“Honestly, I’d love to play at linebacker,” said Smith, who finished with nine tackles. “But whatever the team needs me to do, I’m just going to go ahead and play the position.”
Turnovers, at last
Smith wasn’t the only Owl to collect a turnover on Saturday. Linebacker Tyler Matakevich and cornerback Tavon Young each nabbed an interception for Temple.
The picks came on back-to-back Army drives in the fourth quarter with Temple leading. What’s notable is that the picks – Young’s came first – were the first of the season by the Owls.
Matakevich once again led the defense with 13 tackles.