Owls freshman Alwan is in the mix at linebacker

Jarred Alwan
Jarred Alwan
Posted: August 30, 2013

Matt Rhule added an interesting twist to Temple's football practice Wednesday. The first-year Owls coach set Notre Dame's fight song on full blast over the sound system, repeating it over and over to give his players a taste of what they will encounter when they open the season Saturday in South Bend, Ind.

"When that environment comes, I want them to almost feel like that song is their song," Rhule said. "I want them to be familiar with it and remind them that this moment is here and enjoy it."

Freshman linebacker Jarred Alwan had no trouble recognizing the tune. His high school, Camden Catholic, has the same fight song.

"I liked hearing it," said Alwan, who will find out in the next day or two whether he will be Temple's starting inside linebacker in the nationally televised game. "It's great."

Rhule named the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Alwan as the starter on Tuesday over incumbent Nate D. Smith but changed his mind a day later. He said that Smith, a sophomore, might be the starter and that both would see action in the game.

"It's still not 100 percent," Rhule said. "We were going to compete through today, and Nate had a pretty good day yesterday. It's just one of those tight battles, with Jarred running with the ones and Nate running with the twos."

Smith and Tyler Matakevich, the 2012 Big East rookie of the year, were the top tacklers for the Owls last season. Matakevich racked up 101 tackles, a school freshman record, and Smith had 75. The linebacking unit, which included Blaze Caponegro opposite Matakevich, was probably the best part of the defense last season.

It probably still is, but Smith showed up late for a meeting in the spring, which rubbed Rhule the wrong way. Smith said the incident is behind them, and he is focusing on making a bigger contribution this season.

"I've been on the right path since that day, doing what I'm supposed to do and being where I'm supposed to be," Smith said. "I've just been trying to attack my assignments every day, and that's about it."

Alwan said that Smith has been helping him even though they are competing for the starting job.

"Nate and the other guys have been helping me a lot with picking things up," Alwan said. "It's good, tough competition. We are all playing for each other here, and that's a good thing."

No. 14 Notre Dame was favored by 291/2 points Wednesday, but the Irish offense might not be as good as it was in 2012. Quarterback Everett Golson left the team because of academic problems and will be replaced by Tommy Rees, a senior who has started 18 games. The Irish's two leading rushers from last season, Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, have moved on. Tight end Tyler Eifert is now with the Cincinnati Bengals.

"They have plenty of talent," Alwan said. "We just have to be ready and do our job."

Bag Policy at Notre Dame

   If you are making the trip to South Bend, Ind., to watch the Owls' season opener against Notre Dame on Saturday, don't get caught holding the bag. Here is a look at what will be allowed in Notre Dame Stadium:

Backpacks, duffel bags, and tote bags are prohibited.

Smaller bags, including purses and drawstring sack packs, will be allowed but will be inspected by security personnel.

Medical bags and diaper bags will be allowed into the stadium but will be inspected by security personnel.

- John N. Mitchell

Contact John N. Mitchell at  jmitchell@philly.com. Follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.

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