Owls seek consistency, leadership on defense

Posted: October 31, 2012

AFTER BEING dealt an embarrassing 47-17 loss against the Pittsburgh Panthers, Temple coach Steve Addazio and his Owls seem to be struggling to find any consistency.

"We've got to play better," Addazio said during Monday's Big East Conference call. "We let up too many points. We weren't strong on defense at all, and offensively, we were inconsistent. We came out in the third quarter and really bore down in terms of having a little more level of consistency.

"This is what I was afraid of as we are a young team. I had my concerns as we got into the middle part after two early bye weeks. We're a little banged up and we've lost some key guys right now on the defensive front. We're young, and I think we're in that grind where we've got to put our foot in the ground and we've got to drive. It's kind of one of those times where you draw a line in the sand and say, 'That's enough. We're bleeding right now. Stop the bleeding and let's get going here.' We've got to refight, refocus and let's get going."

Although Temple does feature a number of underclassmen, the Owls (3-4, 2-2 Big East) seem to be missing a definitive leader, especially on defense. While younger players such as linebackers Tyler Matakevich and Nate D. Smith perform well, none of the upperclassmen seems to have taken the leadership role on defense.

"I would say that's probably the hardest thing when you have a young football team, whether it be on defense, offense or anywhere," Addazio said. "There's not a tremendous amount of that going on. One of the things is we're so coach-driven here in creating the energy, the juice and that leadership, and what I've got to do is structure practice maybe a little differently, so that we've got to let them try to do that.

"That's just not something that's really happened right now. And I don't know whose nature it is or it isn't, but what happens is you've just got to develop that. We had such a strong personality team last year and sometimes when you lose that and lose those strong, big personalities, sometimes there's a real void in there, and it takes a while for that to bounce in. And then you surround it with a bunch of young players, which is what we're doing. And I think those guys are going to be tremendous leaders when the time comes next year."

Temple faces its toughest challenge of the season Saturday, as the Owls travel to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium to play 12th-ranked Louisville (8-0, 3-0).

"We've got a tremendous challenge, but what I told our team yesterday was, you wouldn't want it any other way," Addazio said. "I think it's tremendous. The best thing we can do is go on the road, go play Louisville, go play against all odds and just lay it all on the line, and that's what we're going to do. What does that outcome mean? We'll see. But we're going to go out there and do the absolute very, very best we can play, and sometimes the best thing you can have is a great challenge, because it gives you an opportunity for a big result."

Hurricane Sandy forced the cancellation of all activities at Temple on Monday and Tuesday.

"Preparationwise, we are absolutely in a flat scramble right now, trying to get our game plan together and our practice together," Addazio said.

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