Young Temple struggling in the Big East

Posted: October 29, 2012

PITTSBURGH - From a competitive standpoint, this might not have been the best season for Temple to rejoin the Big East Conference.

The Owls aren't as talented as the conference's elite programs. And that could take seasons of successful recruiting to change.

Temple's roster is loaded with lower-level Mid-American Conference talent. The Owls played in that league for the last five seasons.

The speed and playmaking disparity was evident as Temple (3-4, 2-2 Big East) was outscored, 82-27, in its last two games against Rutgers and Pittsburgh, both Big East members.

The biggest disparity has been on the defensive side of the ball, where the Owls routinely surrender long scoring drives and explosive plays.

"We lost some real playmakers last year and [two] years ago," Temple second-year coach Steve Addazio said after Saturday's 47-17 setback to Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. "One of them was here today, [Steelers rookie outside linebacker] Adrian Robinson. When the tough times hit, he knew how to get in there and make sacks."

This season, freshman weakside linebacker Tyler Matakevich (team-high 56 tackles) and redshirt freshman middle linebacker Nate D. Smith (51 stops) are the Owls' only consistent defensive playmakers. And they are still battling against making youthful mistakes.

Offensively, running back Montel Harris, a Boston College transfer, is a game-changer. However, running room has been hard to come by due to an inexperienced and often overmatched offensive line.

All that has led to Temple's being one of the worst teams in the conference.

The Owls ranks last among the eight Big East teams in total offense with an average of just 294.4 yards per game. They are seventh in scoring offense with an average of 23.1 points per game.

The defense isn't any better. It ranks seventh in scoring defense, surrendering an average of 27.7 points per game, and last in total defense at an average of 407.7 yards per game.

They did win consecutive conference games for the first time in school history by beating South Florida on Oct. 6 and Connecticut on Oct. 13. But the Bulls (2-6, 0-4) and Huskies (3-5, 0-3) have a combined 0-7 conference record.


Contact Keith Pompey at kpompey@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock.

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