Four Things To Look For: 2018 Independence Bowl

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The 2018 Independence Bowl will be played in Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana. This year the game will feature the Duke Blue Devils against the Temple Owls. The 2018 Independence Bowl will be the fourth consecutive bowl appearance for the Owls, a feat that they have not accomplished before. This will be the Blue Devils sixth bowl appearance since 2012. They only missed bowl season in 2016. Duke was very good at the beginning of the season and not very fun to watch after beating Northwestern and Baylor. Still, the Blue Devils finished the season 7-5, earning them a spot in their sixth bowl game in seven years. Temple finished their season 8-4, doing so with a stingy pass defense. Overall, it is going to be interesting to see if we get first half of the season Duke, or second. Further, the creative ways Duke quarterback Daniel Jones will have to move the ball against a very good Temple pass defense.

Four things to look for: 2018 Independence Bowl

1. Potential injuries for Temple

The Temple Owls got in their groove after losing early to Villanova, Buffalo, and Boston College when Sophomore quarterback Anthony Russo took over. Russo led the Owls to win five of the next six games, before missing the final game due to a hand injury. While it is likely that Russo will play in the 2018 Independence Bowl, if he cannot go former starter Frank Nutile will have to step back in. Nutile played in only three games this season, going 1-2 as a starter. After taking over the starting job for the season, Russo tossed 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions over 2,335 pass yards. In addition, Russo led the Owls to a 7-2 record as a starter this season. If he can’t go, or is not 100%, at least Nutile will come into the bowl game ending the season on a win.

Another injury to watch for the Owls is running back Ryquell Armstead. Armstead ran for over 1,000 yards this season and 13 touchdowns. The senior running back could be kept out of the 2018 Independence Bowl with an ankle injury. It is something to keep an eye on as the game nears.

2. Potential injuries for Duke

Temple is not the only side that could be without key playmakers on Thursday. The Blue Devils may be without junior linebacker Joe Giles-Harris. Giles-Harris missed the final game against Wake Forest with a knee injury and Duke struggled on defense in his absence losing 59-7. Before the injury, Giles-Harris notched 81 total tackles, 7 for loss, and two passes defended. The junior is the leader on the team with tackles for 2018, so if he can’t go look for senior linebacker Ben Humphreys to be the leader of the unit. In addition to Giles-Harris, quarterback Daniel Jones is also unknown for the 2018 Independence Bowl with a lower body injury. If Jones cannot go, look for junior signal caller Quentin Harris to take over.

3. Duke quarterback Daniel Jones

Blue Devils’ junior quarterback Jones has received some draft hype from Mel Kiper Jr. after completing nearly 60% of his passes in 2018. In addition to a solid completion percentage, Jones has 17 touchdown passes on the season, with just 7 interceptions. He threw for a total of 2,251 yards as well. The Blue Devils are hoping that their starter can go on Thursday, as back-up Harris has only attempted 65 passes this season. Jones is not only essential to the team’s success on the field with his playing ability, the junior is down-to-earth, always prepared for the opponent, and smart. It shows what can happen to the Blue Devils when Jones is out of the game, scoring just seven points against Wake Forest in the season finale. If he is not 100%, Duke will likely lean on sophomore running back Deon Jackson, who has 803 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this season.

4. Temple’s stingy pass defense

The Temple Owls defense tallied 15 interceptions in the 2018 season. Three alone coming from senior safety, Delvon Randall. In addition to his three interceptions, Randall has six passes defended and two forced fumbles in 2018. The secondary is not the only unit for the Owls getting in on the pass defending action. Linebacker Shaun Bradley has two interceptions for 94 yards, with an average between the two of 47 yards, one of which being a pick-six. Bradley also has one pass defended on the year, in addition to his 72 tackles. It will be very difficult for the Blue Devils to move the ball through the air and even more difficult if Daniel Jones is not ready to go.

2018 Independence Bowl: The What’s

Who? Duke vs. Temple

When? Thursday, December 27th at 1:30 pm ET on ESPN.

Where? Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana