As Hurricane Sandy made its way over the region at the beginning of the week, not even the football team was spared from its damaging effects.
The storm forced the team to have an under-prepared practice Tuesday following a day off Monday, leaving Temple scrambling to put together game preparation for Saturday’s match-up against No. 12 Louisville.
Coach Steve Addazio ran practice late Wednesday to try to make up for lost time.
“We just have a lot of work that we’re trying to finish up,” Addazio said. “This week has been a little crazy. I think they responded well to the week. You get out of your routine and you get disrupted, but we’re managing it fine. We’re getting our work done.”
Addazio said Monday he wasn’t sure if the team was going to be able to run Tuesday’s practice, but weather permitted the team to have its usual walkthroughs. Addazio said it was a normal Tuesday practice, but it wasn’t as typically well prepared.
“We didn’t know what time we were going,” Addazio said. “We saw a window of weather opportunity and hit it. But the most important thing we needed to get done got done.”
While players have a day off Monday, coaches hold meetings that usually run late at Edberg-Olson Hall, but Addazio said the staff had to leave campus before 5 p.m.
Addazio lost power in his home in Media, Pa., but was fortunate enough to have it running again by Tuesday night, he said.
The timing of Hurricane Sandy is unfortunate in the face of this week’s game against the Cardinals, who Addazio has called the best team the Owls will face all year, he said.
“We need to accelerate right now, but it’s harder because we’re playing one of the Top 10 teams in America,” Addazio said. “It’s a great opportunity and it will be a great experience for our football team. If we all fire and execute, we’ll be right in the middle of the game.”
This week’s fractured schedule is even more hampering when considering the team’s 47-17 loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, the most disappointing loss of the season, Addazio said.
“We just really looked like the weight of the season caught up with us, and that’s too bad,” Addazio said. “Not shocking, but disappointing. I’d like to see us against this Top 10 team, play better.”
The game against Pittsburgh was a virtual must-win for Temple if the school wants to get bowl eligible, a goal Addazio set at the beginning of the year. Now, in order for the Owls to win the six games needed to be eligible for a bowl game, Temple would have to beat either No. 12 Louisville or Cincinnati, both of which have been ranked, in addition to winnable games against Syracuse and Army.
“We have three wins right now and to get three more would be really challenging because we don’t have the extra game we’re supposed to have,” Addazio said. “We’re going to have to get one of these next two to do it. We can, but we’re going to have to play really well. I wouldn’t be shocked if we did. We have to do it to stay in the middle of this.”
Temple is also hampered by a shortened 11-game schedule that came as a result of the Owls’ sudden departure to the Big East Conference. The university has been working with Hawaii for more than a month to schedule a 12th game in December, a source confirmed, something Addazio said the team needs.
“I’ve always wanted a 12th game. I knew we needed it,” Addazio said. “But it’s out of my hands. I don’t know if any of that is going to come together. I don’t have a great feel for that right now.”
Despite the challenge the team faces this week, and the rest of the season in trying to become bowl eligible, Addazio said the team remains vigilant on the task at hand.
“I’ve always believed in my heart that with every challenge comes an unbelievable opportunity,” Addazio said. “So that makes it’s exciting. Our players are really excited. They have that bright-eyed look.”
The team will have its usual Thursday practice before departing for Kentucky on Friday. Saturday’s game is scheduled to start at noon.
Joey Cranney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @joey_cranney.