View Count: 113 |  Publish Date: September 04, 2013
Temple focusing on first conference game of season
MIKE KERN, Daily News Staff Writer Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013, 3:01 AM
TEMPLES OPENING 28-6 loss at Notre Dame was the first of 12 games, or maybe/hopefully even 13. Now its in the past. So bring on Houston, at the Linc Saturday afternoon, in the inaugural game of the new 10-team American Athletic Conference, where the Owls were picked to finish ninth.
They were four-touchdown underdogs in South Bend. This time the point spread is a field goal.
I dont think its OK to lose, said first-year coach Matt Rhule. I can live with losing when we play a team I just think is so much better than us and we play our best game and couldnt handle it. I dont think that was the case. I think [NDs] a very good team. We didnt play our best. Theres a lot to build on.
Were not going to sit here and be happy with a good showing. Ive taken that loss personally. I hope our team has. We have to play better, go win this game at home, in front of our crowd. We played a lot of young guys. The moment wasnt too big for them. We found out who blinked. I like the direction were going. It was a great environment. But thats how exciting this week should be for us as a team. More coverageBuy local college sports tickets Latest college sports videos
When Rhule got the job in December he talked about winning championships because that was the one thing missing from the trophy case. Like all those billboards are proclaiming, this is where that quest starts. If not for 2013, then for the years to come.
At the end of the year, when we look back at the conference rankings, this is a much more important game, Rhule said. We havent played any conference games so were [still] ninth. I hope we dont have to get them re-focused. When we didnt hurt ourselves, we played good football. We have to continue to learn that.
I told them, If you guys cant see what you can be, then thats on you. Im unbelievably positive. But Im also realistic. Winning is a process everyone has to buy into. Im proud of the fact that we hung in there and fought. On 55 plays we gave up 258 yards. Thats as good as anyone in the country. But on seven plays we gave up 281. Thats as bad as anyone. So what are we going to be? Thats up to the players. Heres what we have to do. You make the decision.
We should leave that game being excited [that] we can be what we want to be. I want it to be, Hey, we didnt win. Back to work so we do. I dont want there to be a crutch [like] Attaway, Temple, now run along.
It wasnt the same as starting with big wins over an overmatched Villanova, as was the case the last 2 years under Steve Addazio, whos now at Boston College. But in the long run, which do you gain more from?
Houston just clocked FCS Southern, 62-13. The Cougars went 5-7 last year for new coach Tony Levine, the guy who took over for Kevin Sumlin, whos now getting dissed by Johnny Football at Texas A&M. Anyway, the Cougars have 10 offensive starters back, and are only 2 years removed from 13-1 and a bowl win over Penn State. They rushed for 372 yards last week. But they like to throw the ball, and they will run a lot of plays. Theyll also give up some points. So its going to be a different kind of test for the folks on North Broad. And if theyre not ready, it could be another uphill tussle. Only this time it might not be quite as painless to rationalize.
Bad things are going to happen all the time, said senior safety Abdul Smith. You just have to move on. Theres always room for improvement. Thats what were striving to do.
We felt like we were right there with Notre Dame. We gave them 14 points in the first four minutes [on two long passes]. We did OK, but we can do better. We have to get our first win, right here.
If becoming bowl eligible is the goal, and its never too early to project, then this one could turn out to be a difference-maker. After this, the Owls should be favored against FCS Fordham and Idaho. They wont be against Louisville and Cincinnati. Theres Army at home before going to SMU, which could be another swing game. Both at Rutgers and here with Central Florida figure to be tough. The last two - vs. Connecticut and at Memphis - look gettable. Add it up. Of course a whole lot can change between now and Turkey Day. Or even mid-October. But 1-1 is a much better place than 0-2.
You never forget what happened [at ND], but you have to grow from it, said junior cornerback Anthony Roby, who got burned deep a couple of times. Were not satisfied with losing. Its disappointing. We expect better from ourselves. The next game is always the most important.
A year ago, in their first season back in what used to be the Big East, the Owls won their first two conference games. They wouldnt win another. Three might be enough to get them to 6-6. That wouldnt be disappointing.
This is a chance for us to prove some people wrong, said sophomore center Kyle Friend, who more than held his own against one of the best defensive fronts in the land. We were picked to finish last. I dont think we should be. Thats definitely something to shoot for. We cant wait to get started.
They already have. Only now its going to count in the standings. In reality its their pertinent measurement.MIKE KERNDaily News Staff Writer #post2 .pw-icon.ra1-pw-icon-reddit {background: url() 0px 0px no-repeat !important;width: 60px !important;height: 20px !important;margin-right:8px;}#post2 .pw-icon.ra1-pw-icon-email {background: url() 0px 0px no-repeat !important;width: 71px !important;height: 28px !important;}0commentsReprints & Permissions »

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