Pushing the tempo

The whistle blows and the football team hustles back into formation. It runs another play. Again, the whistle blows and the players quickly run back to start another play. Those who don’t draw the ire

The whistle blows and the football team hustles back into formation. It runs another play. Again, the whistle blows and the players quickly run back to start another play. Those who don’t draw the ire of their coaches.

Under new coach Al Golden, spring practice suddenly has a different feel from that of previous seasons under former coach Bobby Wallace.

“It’s way more up-tempo,” sophomore center Alex Derenthal said. “[The coaches] expect about a thousand times more out of us. I can’t say I’m taking more reps, but we get a lot more plays in.”

The Owls began spring practice at Edberg-Olson Hall last week for the first time with Golden calling the shots. He aims to turn around a program that has not had a winning season since 1990, and finished last season winless. In his attempt, several changes have occurred.

Among them is the pace of practice.

“It’s put ‘the ball down, let’s go,'” fifth-year senior linebacker Ryan Gore said. “The tempo is a lot faster. The first day there was a lot of adjusting. But now, you kind of get used to it after like the third or fourth drill.”

That has not been the only change. With a new coach comes a new playbook. And just like the upbeat practice tempo, Golden expects his team to learn the plays quickly.

“They want us to know every play,” Derenthal said. “They want us to be on point. It’s like Day 2 of practice and we already have like a million and a half plays in.”

Golden’s agenda is clear. During the first eight practices, the Owls will experiment with several offensive and defensive schemes to find the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Over the remaining eight practices, the team will concentrate on plays Golden’s staff believe will produce wins.

Golden has the defense operating in a 3-4 set formation. On offense, the Owls have tested a couple formations. Golden said he wants to see whether his offense works best out of a single-back or double-back formation.

“We’d like to try to run an offense that more closely resembles the Indianapolis Colts’ offense than anything else, and that’s something that we’re all comfortable with,” Golden said.

Fans will have two chances to see Golden’s plays in action: tomorrow at Edberg-Olson for the team’s Student Day festivities and at the Cherry & White game on April 22 at Ambler Sports Complex, which concludes spring practice. But for Golden, the scrimmage in late April merely signals the end of a phase.

Golden has broken down preparation for this season into four phases. After finishing their off-season program, the Owls have entered Phase 2, which is spring practice. Summer conditioning is Phase 3 and preseason camps will conclude Golden’s four-phase process.

“It takes all four phases to build the team, and then you have to throw some chemistry in there and then you have a chance” to win, Golden said. “So that’s what we’re really trying to build. April 22 may be the culmination for a lot of people in the Owl Nation, but for us, it’s really just the end of Phase 2.”

Since taking the position, Golden has made it clear that he has no intention of continuing Temple’s losing tradition. He’s here to win and his players are quickly finding that out.

“It feels more competitive,” Derenthal said. “Last fall, it was just going through the motions. But now it feels like we’re out here for a reason. We have a goal now.”

Gore agreed.

“Last year, if [the opposition] would score a touchdown, we’d get down,” Gore added, “but you got to carry the next play. You can’t worry about that last play. You just play the next play. If you do bad, worry about the next play. It’s just a winning mentality around here now.”

While Golden has brought an attitude adjustment to his team, he also wants to see an excited fan base. Mainly, he wants games to be more of a social event. Tomorrow’s practice, which begins at 4:20 p.m., will be open to the student body.

“I just want them to know that this is their university and this is their team,” Golden said. “I’m their coach, and that we’re all in this thing together.

“This is just a step to say ‘Look, we’re no different than you.’ We want them to come in and we want them to see the new attitude. We want them to see our people are working.”

John Kopp can be reached at jpk85@juno.com.

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