I’m so happy that it’s passed Christmas and I’m still writing football articles. The Deacs are set to play in their first bowl game since 2011 on Tuesday, and they are taking on a really good Temple team that is ranked 24th in the nation. The Owls have an impressive 10-3 record and are coming off a blow out win over Navy to take the AAC championship. In order to bring a W home to Winston-Salem, the Deacs will need to slow down these players for Temple:
Offense: Jahad Thomas | Senior RB | #5
Jahad Thomas is a fantastic running back who has rushed for over 2500 yards and 30 TDs in his career at Temple. While he is great in the running game, with over 1000 yards and 8 TDs receiving in his career, he can also be a threat in the passing game. This season, after missing the first 2 games, Thomas ran the ball 200 times for 918 yards and 13 TDs. In the passing game he caught the ball 32 times for 426 yards and 6 TDs. His ability to score puts him at 22nd in the nation in points scored with 114, 7th in the nation in points per game with 10.4, and 9th in the nation in total TDs with 19. To put that into perspective, in 11 games Thomas scored 19 TDs, while in 12 games the entire Wake Forest offense manged just 22 TDs. He also ranked 27th in the nation in all purpose yards at 134 yards per game. His efforts this season earned him All-AAC 2nd Team honors. If Thomas is able to get large chunks of yards in the ground game or on short swing passes, it could set the Deacs up to get beat deep. As a senior playing in his last game, Thomas will likely be ready to leave everything he has out on the field, so the Deacon defense will need to be ready to match his intensity. There is no doubt in my mind that they will be up for the challenge.
Defense: Haason Reddick | RS Senior DL | #7
Reddick is a 6-1 230lb defensive lineman who uses his speed to get into the backfield and disrupt plays. This season he netted 59 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 3 forced fumbles. He ranked 33rd nationally in sacks and 9th nationally in tackles for loss. Those numbers were good enough to gain him 1st Team All-AAC honors. From what I have seen of Reddick, he reminds me of Boston College’s Harold Landry in that he’s not the biggest guy on the line but he uses his speed and agility to rush around the edge and get to the QB. As a reminder, in Wake’s loss vs BC in the final game of the regular season, Landry recorded 3 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. Wake Forest may need to double team Reddick or chip him with a back if they want to avoid a similar result as the BC game. Like Thomas, Reddick is playing in his last game ever as a college football player, so he will definitely be looking to go out a strong note.
Both these players wear single digit numbers, which at Temple represents that they are among the toughest players on the team (as voted by the team). As a bowl game bonus I’ll throw in a couple of extra gifs just for fun. See you guys on Tuesday in Annapolis.