Young Temple remains erratic

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Temple coach Steve Addazio has discovered that coaching a team loaded with young and inexperienced players can be challenging.

There is little consistency because so many players are still learning how to play at the major-college level. In fact, Addazio used the word "roller coaster" several times when describing the way the Owls have played.

"[Inconsistency] is all a part of that roller coaster that I talk about sometimes, and we have to work really hard to take some of those valleys out of there," Addazio said. "I don't think it should be as extreme as it has been, but I also know that is part of where we are right now.

"You see the really good and you still see a little bit of that bad right there, but the future looks great because you can see what we can do but you can also see what we can't do [right now] so to speak and that's youth."

Temple (3-3, 2-1 Big East) was hit hard by graduation. The Owls start three seniors on offense and five on defense, making them hard to figure out.

Two losses likely best illustrate the inconsistency.

The first was a 36-27 loss against Maryland in which the Owls fell behind, 26-3, in the first half due to mistakes and poor execution. But the Owls played like a completely different team in the second half and got within 29-27 before Maryland scored a late touchdown to seal the win.

The other came Saturday, when the Owls played No. 15 Rutgers. Temple dominated the first half and led, 10-0, at halftime before the Scarlet Knights took advantage of two Temple turnovers and blocked a punt in a 35-10 win.

Addazio said the loss to Rutgers was especially frustrating, but he has tried to use it as a teaching moment.

He said Temple will try to find some consistency Saturday at Heinz Field when the Owls play erratic Pitt (3-4, 0-3)

"You don't ever want to be encouraged by a loss," Addazio said. "But we have to point out when a team is developing and growing what was good and what was bad and try to fix and correct what was bad.

"But there was more good than bad, we were really bad for 15 minutes and really good for 30. Now the challenge is can we make that 30 good minutes into 45, that's what we are trying to get at as we look ahead to this week's game against Pittsburgh, a really good football team."

Addazio said that the Owls other challenge this week will be stopping quarterback Tino Sunseri and the Panthers passing attack.

He said Sunseri has impressed him because he has taken many shots -- literally and figuratively-- yet keeps getting up and making plays.

"Tino Sunseri is a coach's son. You talk about a guy who has been through it now, that guy has been through it," Addazio said. "He is gritty, he is tough, he is weathered, he stands in there and takes some shots and then delivers some shots of his own. He is a gritty quarterback and he is playing really well.

"And wide receiver Devin Street is an outstanding football player and their offensive line has played and started a lot of games together so they have a veteran offense with some playmakers and a quarterback that is an experienced guy"

Temple's offense is led by junior quarterback Chris Coyer, who has completed 61 of 115 passes for 727 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. But the Owls offense is ranked 88th in Division I-A in scoring (24.2 ppg) and 120th in passing yards per game (122.3).

Addazio said part of the offensive struggles have come against Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers and Connecticut.

"We have played some outstanding defenses," Addazio said.

pittsports

Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com and Twitter @paulzeise.


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