Temple aims to improve on 3rd down

Posted: September 25, 2012

Third-down play on both sides of the ball is a major weakness for Temple.

The Owls (1-2) were 3 for 12 on third-down conversions in Saturday's 24-13 setback at Penn State. Through three games, they are 13 for 40 (32.5 percent) on third down, ranking 98th among the nation's 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

Take away the season opener against Football Championship Subdivision squad Villanova, and Temple is converting a little more than a quarter of its third-down attempts.

"So, what's happening is we aren't staying on the field on offense to be able to give us our [explosiveness] to get our running game going," said Owls coach Steve Addazio, whose team has a bye week to work on it. "We are not staying on the field.

"And on defense, we are not getting off the field. That's the problem that we are in."

Temple ranks 92d nationally in third-down conversion defense (44.44 percent). Maryland and Penn State combined to convert 15 of 31 against the Owls.

"On defense, we feel like we got a good mixture of pressure," Addazio said.

But Temple didn't sack Nittany Lions quarterback Matt McGloin, whose wideouts routinely were a few steps ahead of Temple's secondary.

"We should be hitting him," Addazio said. "We are not. So we're stressing the [defensive backs]. We've got to rally to the ball a little bit better, put ourselves in those situations, and develop it. That's what football is."

So why is the Owls offense in third and long so often? It starts with an ineffective passing game, and an inexperienced and banged-up line. Since Temple completes less than half of its passes, opponents look to load the box to take away the running game.

A better passing game would free up things for running backs Montel Harris and Matt Brown and make things more manageable on third down.

"So we've got to grow there," Addazio said of the passing game. "Maybe more quick game. Get the ball out of the quarterback's hand a little quicker so we are not sitting there in the pocket too long. Move the pocket. We are going to address those things" during the bye week.

McManus honored. Temple placekicker/punter Brandon McManus was named the Big East specialist of the week for the second time this season. The senior made two field goals (33 and 42 yards) against Penn State. He also averaged 48.5 yards on six punts.

Temple vs. USF start time set. The starting time for Temple's homecoming game and Big East opener against South Florida on Oct. 6 has been set for noon. The Big East Network will televise the contest as its game of the week. The local television affiliate will be announced at a later date.

Contact Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939 or kpompey@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/OwlsInq


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