Rhule sees improvement in 1-8 Owls

Posted: November 06, 2013

Matt Rhule, Temple's first-year football coach, had settled into Rittenhouse Square's Palm Tree Gourmet on Sunday afternoon to eat a bagel sandwich when a fan interrupted.

"Hey buddy, you guys are this far away," he told Rhule.

The sting from Saturday's 23-20 loss at Rutgers was still real, but it reminded the coach of the struggles from another season. He was a first-year offensive coordinator in 2008 when the Owls dropped seven games, five by fewer than seven points.

A season later, they played in the program's first bowl game in 30 years.

"We're not winning, but we're getting a lot better," said Rhule, whose team has lost five times by 10 points or fewer. "I didn't come here to win some easy way. I came here to build a program."

The Owls are off this weekend and play Central Florida on Nov. 16. Rhule, 38, and his staff will spend the week recruiting locally and in southern states.

The Owls have received oral commitments from 16 players and last week extended a scholarship offer to Rochester, N.Y., cornerback Jordan Ford. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder said he has an official visit scheduled for Dec. 7.

Despite his team's 1-8 record, Rhule said the response from recruits has been "fantastic." Picking a college, he said, is like buying stock.

"You want to make sure that you pick one that's on the rise," Rhule said. "The recruits that we're talking to recognize the chance to play early, chance to go to a great school, and they see the type of program we're building."

The 2008 team finished the season with two straight wins, which Rhule said the Owls carried into the next season as they figured out how to win games in the fourth quarter.

And just like then, Rhule said the Owls hope to use this season's final stretch "to put the last piece of this puzzle together."

"Temple is coming," Rhule said. "And Temple is going to be a program to deal with in the next couple years."


mbreen@phillynews.com

@matt_breen

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