Tough tests ahead for a young Temple squad

Junior Devin Street (15) along with senior Mike Shanahan form a formidable wideout tandem for Pitt. Street is averaging 79.3 receiving yards per game, second in the big East. BILL WIPPERT / AP
Junior Devin Street (15) along with senior Mike Shanahan form a formidable wideout tandem for Pitt. Street is averaging 79.3 receiving yards per game, second in the big East. BILL WIPPERT / AP (BILL WIPPERT / AP)
Posted: October 24, 2012

In the next five weeks, Temple will have its toughness tested and tenacity measured.

The Owls (3-3, 2-1 Big East) are faced with having to win three of their remaining five games to become bowl-eligible for the fourth straight season.

What makes the task so problematic is that Temple will have a tough time against Big East opponents Louisville (ranked 16th) and Cincinnati.

That's why Saturday's conference game at Pittsburgh could be viewed as a must-win game for the Owls. And the same is true about the nonconference game at Army on Nov. 17 and the Big East home contest against Syracuse on Nov. 23.

"As you get into this part of the season, it's physically demanding and it's mentally demanding," Temple coach Steve Addazio said. "And it concerns me."

Addazio is worried because his youthful and inexperienced team has never gone through what it is about to experience.

"You know they don't know the grind," he said. "They think they are exhausted. They are not used to the grind. And we are not used to the quality of the opponent in the grind."

Addazio will not, at least publicly, call the game against the Panthers (3-4, 0-3) a must-win.

"If you had a more veteran team, I think you put that right at them like that," he said. "I think when you have a young team, you look at it like let's go play the best game that we can play. Let's have a great week of preparation, and don't over- and undervalue any one single contest. Let's just go get it."

Even though they are perhaps the Big East's most inconsistent team, the Panthers are 61/2-point favorites.

Pitt boasts the conference's best wideout tandem in senior Mike Shanahan (80.6 receiving yards per game) and junior Devin Street (79.3).

The Panthers also have a talented running-back tandem in senior Ray Graham (513 rushing yards, five touchdowns) and freshman Rushel Shell (362 yards, three TDs).

But Pitt's three victories have come against squads with a combined 6-16 record: Virginia Tech (4-4), Gardner-Webb (1-6) and Buffalo (1-6).

After facing the Panthers, the Owls travel to Louisville (7-0, 2-0) on Nov. 3 before hosting Cincinnati (5-1, 1-0) on Nov. 10.

Temple finishes up against Army (1-6) and Syracuse (3-4, 2-1).

Even though Addazio said he won't put too much emphasis on the Pitt game, his players realize how important it is.

"You've got to kind of look at it like we've got to go out there and this is our push to get bowl-eligible," Temple safety Justin Gildea said. "We've got to go out there and win this one."


Contact Keith Pompey at kpompey@phillynews.com,

or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock.

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