Temple is the underdog in the upcoming Big East Conference opener against South Florida on Oct. 6, but coach Steve Addazio said that won’t change throughout the year and the way the Owls approach each game has to stay the same.
“We know we’re going to be in dogfights each week,” Addazio said during the Big East weekly teleconference yesterday, Oct. 1. “We don’t go into games and outmatch anybody, that’s not the case at all. But we feel like we have an opportunity to win in every contest. From what I’ve seen, if Temple plays a little bit better, Temple will be in every game.”
Temple (1–2) opens its Big East season against South Florida (2–3, 0–1) on Oct. 6 at noon at Lincoln Financial Field for the team’s homecoming game. The Owls are coming off back-to-back losses to Maryland and Penn State while the Bulls are losers of three in a row, despite a strong showing in a 30–17 loss to No. 3 Florida State on Sept. 29.
In the Owls’ two losses this season, the team has had issues on both sides of the ball. The Owls were outgained by a combined total of 825 yards to 467 yards against the Terrapins and Nittany Lions. Against Maryland, Temple turned the ball over three times and committed seven penalties. Against Penn State, the Temple defense gave up 318 passing yards to senior quarterback Matt McGloin, a career high.
In bye weeks after both the Maryland and Penn State games, Addazio said he used the time off to focus specifically on correcting the problems from the previous game.
After Maryland, the team worked on fundamentals in less physical practices as the offensive line got healthy. During the past week, with most of the team intact, Addazio said the team had four full-padded practices with a scrimmage-like atmosphere.
The offense competed against the defense in trying to convert on third-and-long situations in practice. Coaches kept a running tally of who won each play, and there was running drills for the team that lost. Addazio said he’s trying to emphasize third downs after the team gave up 27 first downs to Penn State
“We’ve had a lot of time here and we’re trying to use it constructively,” Addazio said. “From that, we’re seeing growth. We’re addressing our situation.”
Addazio has also implemented personnel changes at wide receiver due to too many dropped passes and lack of production. Temple wide receivers have caught 13 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns through three games this season.
Addazio said he’s been using young receivers full time in practice and the group is going to “play a bunch” against South Florida. True freshmen receivers Khalif Herbin and Romond Deloatch could see significant playing time on Saturday.
“They’re explosive guys, so you want to take advantage of that and furthermore, you might as well get them ready to play,” Addazio said.
The Temple pass defense, ranked No. 51 in the nation, will be given the task of containing Bulls’ senior quarterback B.J. Daniels. Daniels has passed for 1285 yards and nine touchdowns in five games and is South Florida’s leading rusher with 271 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He ranks third in the Big East individually in total offense, with 311.2 yards per game.
“[Daniels] has got an unbelievable amount of athleticism,” Bulls’ coach Skip Holtz said yesterday. “He’s elusive. He’s making good decisions with the ball and is starting to mature as a quarterback.”
“We know about the quality of the opponent we’re facing and we respect that, but we’re just focused on playing as well as we can,” Addazio said.
Addazio said that the team can’t afford to make the same mistakes it made against Maryland and Penn State this upcoming Saturday, or for the rest of the Big East season.
“We have to learn week in and week out to play at our very best,” Addazio said. “We don’t have that margin for error where we can’t play our very best because it will hurt us immediately.”
Joey Cranney can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @joey_cranney.