Against UConn, Temple looking for 3-0 start

Posted: September 16, 2010

Temple-Connecticut. There's some history involved.

UConn came into the Big East for football in 2004. Temple had been asked to leave after that season. In 2007, the Owls lost in Storrs. But only after what appeared to be a late Temple touchdown catch wasn't called one by either the officials on the field or those in the replay booth. The following year, UConn won at Lincoln Financial Field - in overtime.

Still . . .

"There's been so much turnover on this team that that's really not been mentioned," said coach Al Golden, whose Owls, 2-0 for the first time since 1981, will try to win their first three for the first time in 31 years on Saturday afternoon in South Philadelphia against the Huskies (1-1). "It's not even part of the conversation.

"Until you brought it up, that's the first time anybody's brought it up in our building all week. So it's really not a function of anything that happened 2 years ago, 3 years ago. We're a different team. They're a different team.

"They're a team that's gone down and beat South Carolina [in last January's PapaJohns.com Bowl], that beats Notre Dame [on the road in overtime last November], that beats South Florida [in the 2009 regular-season finale] and goes to Michigan and looks good [in a 30-10, opening loss this year]. So I think our guys know there's little margin for error here."

The Owls beat Villanova on a field goal at the end, and beat Central Michigan on a field goal in OT. It isn't South Carolina or Notre Dame, but it's two games that they might not have figured out a way to win a couple of years ago.

"Or even 12 months," noted Golden, whose team will go to Penn State next week, its first road trip.

The next two games won't help Temple get to the Mid-American Conference final, but they could go a long way toward closing any credibility gaps that are still out there. Not that UConn or Penn State are necessarily going to challenge for their respective league titles, but they're still national names.

And overcoming perceptions are a part of the process, too, whether they're discussed internally or not.

Nova's Mr. Versatility

Matt Szczur, who can beat you by catching passes, carrying the ball or returning kicks, sometimes lines up 5 yards behind center to take direct snaps. With freshman backup quarterback Dustin Thomas out for this week's Colonial Athletic Association opener against visiting Towson with a throat problem, Szczur becomes the backup.

The Walter Payton Award candidate has completed four of five passes this season. For his career, he's 9-for-11, with three touchdowns.

"We'll try to package him a little better," said coach Andy Talley. "We can run the option with him as well. He's actually got a pretty good arm."

You could probably stick Szczur at middle linebacker and he wouldn't hurt you.

The team's 2009 national title will be recognized and celebrated before the coin toss.

"It's fun to deal with that," Talley noted. "But I sort of wish it was [happening later] in the year. That was historical. But it has nothing to do with this year."

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