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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Temple football faces a must win

While last week’s loss to Ohio has the Owls clinging to their hopes for postseason play, the football team remains focused on the task at hand in tomorrow’s game against Miami (Ohio).

The loss to Ohio dropped Temple to third place in the Mid-American Eastern Conference standings, with two out of three of their remaining games coming against other MAC East teams. Starting tomorrow, the Owls need to win out to have a chance to gain a bid to play in the postseason.

“There are three regular season games left, our mindset is one at a time, win three games,” coach Steve Addazio said. “What’s in our control is to have our football team as prepared as we can possibly be for the next game. And that has to be the mindset of our program right now.”

The successes and failures of last week’s game against the Bobcats were a departure from the Owls’ typical play this season. Temple entered the game ranked second nationally in scoring defense, but let up a season-high 35 points to Ohio. Similarly, the Owls had been struggling at the quarterback position all season long, yet redshirt-sophomore quarterback Chris Coyer passed for three touchdowns and added 188 yards rushing against the Bobcats.

 Addazio said the positives from the Ohio game outweigh the negatives.

“I thought our program took an important step in that loss, one that hadn’t happened here yet,” Addazio said. “The key question is whether or not that step continues. If it does, then something was gained in that loss.”

“[The Ohio game was] a frustration for us, but we can’t let that frustration get to our heads,” senior defensive back Kee-ayre Griffin added. “We have to bounce back and play collective football as a team.”

Coyer’s breakthrough performance made an impact on Addazio, who said that Coyer will start tomorrow’s game against Miami (Ohio).

“There’s no drama with Chris Coyer,” Addazio said. “I think that’s terrific. That’s the way it has to be.”

Miami (Ohio) have won four out of their last five games after beginning their season 0-4 and sit one game ahead of the Owls in the MAC East standings. The Redhawks feature a pass-heavy offense led by junior quarterback Zac Dysert. Dysert averages 263 yards passing per game and is a threat on the ground with three rushing touchdowns on the year.

“[Dysert] stays in the pocket, he’s a tough kid,” Griffin said. “If he has to make plays with his feet, he will. The defense will just have to step up to the occasion and contain the quarterback.”

“[Miami (Ohio)] has a heck of a quarterback,” Addazio added. “[Dysert] is a real competitor.”

After a rough start to the season, the Redhawks’ defense has settled down in the second half, holding opponents to under two touchdowns in three out of their last four games. Sophomore defensive back Dayonne Nunley is fifth on the team in tackles (42) and is tied for third in the MAC with three interceptions on the year.

“[Miami (Ohio)] has a good offense and a great defense,” Griffin said. “It comes down to will power and who wants it the most.”

“They seem to be growing each week and getting better as they go,” Addazio added about the Redhawks. “In the MAC, any team can be any other team in any proven week.”

Addazio also stated that he would like to see his team win the battle for field position against Miami (Ohio), something he said was a turning point in the game against Ohio.

“We pinned their return game inside the 20, but we didn’t capitalize on that field position cause we let up too many big plays on defense,” Addazio said.

“I have to stay home with my abilities and help the team on offense and defense,” junior punter Brandon McManus added. “Punting wise, I’d like to put more height on height on the ball to limit their return. [Miami (Ohio)’s] return is very good.”

The matchup against Miami (Ohio) tomorrow is the most crucial game of the year for the Owls, as are the rest of the remaining games on the schedule. Despite the pressure of having to win out, Addazio said his is satisfied with how his team has performed.

“I really like our football team right now,” Addazio said. “I really see a lot of positive things happening. I see an extremely competitive and talented football team, and I’m proud of that.”

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