Last weekend was a time of reflection for Temple during its bye week.
With three straight road games ahead, maybe the early week off comes at the right time.
It’s still early in the season. But if the Owls (0-2) can’t muster a win soon, someone might want to press the panic button.
The last two weeks have been a chance for players to figure out where they stand as a team and what sort of resolve they have within them.
After losing to Division I-AA foe Villanova 23-20 in two overtimes back on Sept. 6 at Lincoln Financial Field, the team’s melancholy state seems appropriate.
During the idle weekend, senior defensive tackle Taso Apostolidis said he watched some football games on television, but also tried to figure out where things have gone wrong.
“Really, we just want to get back into things,” Apostolidis said. “I sat by myself, really contemplating about everything, thinking things through and trying to see what I can do and basically what everybody can do to try and make this team better.”
At coach Bobby Wallace’s weekly luncheon with the media, he still sounded sullen over the ‘Nova loss, but said the team is ready to move on.
“I think the scrimmaging helps. I’m glad we had a week off,” Wallace said. “We haven’t done well after them, but I’m glad.”
Under Wallace, the Owls are 1-3 following a bye week.
He did appear encouraged by a players-only meeting held after practice last Friday.
If anything, players are getting the message that in order to win, they must execute and produce.
Rian Wallace said he dwelled on the first two games, with players taking the losses personally.
In addition, with no game scheduled, he got to spend some quality time watching football with his newborn and thinking about the future.
According to Wallace, the bye comes at an opportune time.
Moreover, the sophomore linebacker pointed out that the two areas the squad appears to struggle with are experience and preparation.
“It’s easy to know the system when you’re going over it in practice. So it’s sort of game experience. A lot of players don’t have Division I level game experience,” Wallace said.
The defensive unit, which has begun to develop a reputation for itself over the past few years, has eight new starters.
Some of the newcomers had to be in awe during the season-opening loss at Penn State in front of a crowd of over 100,000.
On offense, there are three new starters on the front line.
At running back, senior Makonnen Fenton looked like a legitimate starter before two broken ribs against Villanova sidelined him for four to five weeks.
Replacing Fenton will be junior college transfer Jamil Porter.
He’ll get his first start Saturday night at Cincinnati.
In terms of readiness, Rian Wallace said the Owls must prepare for games as a team, not individually.
“We hold our future in our own hands,” Wallace said. “If we come out as a team, it can be done. But if we just put our heads down and not work hard, it could work the opposite way.”
Running back-turned-safety Lawrence Wade spent his time away from the field watching football and maintaining his focus on the remaining 10 games.
After the brief respite, Wade said he’s hungry to get back onto the field against Cincinnati.
And to the naysayers, Wade said, “Don’t let the first two games determine the season right now. We’re still fighting.”
As it stands, Temple might be mired in underachievement.
During the loss to Penn State, the Owls had numerous opportunities for an upset.
Temple had an excellent scoring opportunity following Wade’s 29-yard interception return, but the Owls failed to put the ball in the end zone, and place-kicker Jared Davis missed a chip shot, 26-yard field goal.
A week later they should have dominated ‘Nova, only to play down to their competition.
Regardless, Apostolidis feels as though it doesn’t matter whether the next three games are at home or on the road.
What matters is just winning games, and the anxiety could mount if they continue to fall short.
Outside linebackers coach Spencer Prescott sounded ambivalent regarding the scheduled bye.
“With this particular team, I don’t know,” Prescott said. “Time will tell whether it was good for them or not.”
At this rate, a couple wins before the start of Big East conference play could do wonders.
Jason S. Haslam can be reached at email@example.com