Temple quarterback Chris Coyer ready to be tested

Posted: August 24, 2012

WHEN STEVE Addazio took the Temple coaching job at the end of 2010, he took it with one eye on the Big East. He said it from Day 1 and he reiterated it on Wednesday afternoon at Temple's Media Day:

If you build it, they will come.

The "it" is Temple football, and the "they," of course, are Owls fans and the city of Philadelphia, a combination that Addazio considers tailor-made for big-time college football.

"I think that this is the start of a new era," Addazio said on Wednesday at Xfinity Live, shortly before taking the podium to address the fans in attendance.

"A lot of work has been done here by a lot of people - coaches, former coaches, administrators. Now, we take that next step and we have to build this thing. Not just for Temple, but for Philadelphia."

Temple has a lot to look forward to in 2012 - most notably a running game that seems poised to shine under the bright lights of the Big East. Yet it was starting quarterback Chris Coyer who Addazio gushed over first when asked about his team's potencies.

"I think we have strength at quarterback right now," he said. "We have a starting quarterback that really has his arms around what we're trying to do offensively."

Coyer, now a junior, stepped in at quarterback for the Owls midway through last season and led Temple to its first bowl win since 1979. Coyer was named MVP of the New Mexico Bowl, completing eight of 12 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown and adding 71 yards on the ground.

Despite only starting four games in 2011, Coyer impressed enough to maintain the job heading into training camp and his stock has only risen. He said it was after his first start against Ohio - a 35-31 early November loss - when he knew he felt comfortable at the controls of the Temple attack.

"Even though we lost, we had a lot of success on offense, where we were struggling for several weeks," Coyer said. "That was really where my confidence started and it has been rolling from there."

Possessing surprising mobility for someone 6-3 and 230 pounds, Coyer is a load to take down in the open field. When combined with scatback Matt Brown and talented Boston College transfer Montel Harris, Temple has all the makings of a potent three-headed monster on the ground.

And make no mistake about it, the Owls will run. They finished seventh in the nation in 2011 in rushing and if Addazio has his way, they will be even better in 2012. But in the last week, after it stalled much of training camp, the second-year coach has seen the passing game come alive under Coyer.

"That is what I am fired up about right now," Addazio said. "I think our passing game is really coming along fast. Chris is really starting to become that complete quarterback. That is what you want. He can run and he can throw. He can hurt you on any front and it is important for us."

So far, Coyer has displayed improved passing skills and an exciting command of the offense. Now under the tutelage of quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers, whose former pupils include Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb, Coyer has blossomed and the junior seems unfazed by the challenges that come with being the main man under center for a BCS conference contender.

"As far as pressure, I don't feel too much," Coyer said. "I've always felt that the person who puts the greatest pressure on myself is me."

With the sparkling reviews of his play in mind, the pressing question is - how often will Coyer and the Owls offense put the ball in the air?

"We're all going to have to wait and see how that all plays out," Coyer said with a grin. "That is a little bit more of a secret. It stays in the facility. You're going to have to wait and see in Game 1."

Game 1 is next Friday's Mayor's Cup against Villanova; Temple is likely to be heavily favored. A complimentary passing attack could do wonders for Temple in 2012. But with a BCS schedule in front of them, the Owls simply cannot afford to slip up.

Addazio knows it, and to him, Friday will go a long way toward telling him if what he has seen from Coyer is for real.

"The ultimate test is Friday night, when it matters," Addazio said. "To me, that is how you measure quarterbacks. Go win. It is all about winning."

Contact Alex Lee at alee@phillynews.com


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