first_img Published on September 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm Steve Addazio gauges how difficult Temple’s opponent will be based on the way it performs on special teams. In scouting that one phase, the Owls head coach gains insight into how hard the team is going to play.He uses the same method to measure his team’s effort.So last week, when Rod Streater blocked a Maryland punt, it proved to the first-year head coach that Temple is a hard-nosed football team.‘How hard does a team really play?’ Addazio said in the Mid-American Conference teleconference Monday. ‘Watch them on special teams, how hard do they play there? A well-coached team is going to play real hard on special teams.’The Owls have played their way into prominence under Addazio after four games this season. After nearly pulling an upset against Penn State in the third week of the season, Temple displayed it can compete with opponents from Bowl Championship Series conferences. A week later, the Owls proved even more, pounding Maryland 38-7 on the road last Saturday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe success has stemmed from Addazio’s main focus on toughness in his first year at the helm of a college football program. His mantra, ‘Temple Tough and Philadelphia Proud,’ courses through the team both sides of the ball.Two weeks ago, the Owls were just two minutes and 42 seconds from delivering the Nittany Lions their second loss of the season. But Penn State capitalized on one of two fourth quarter interceptions, scoring a touchdown on a 12-play drive following the turnover. Temple lost 14-10.‘Everyone was hurt and distraught,’ senior outside linebacker Tahir Whitehead said. ‘It came down to the wire and knowing that we controlled most of the game and let it up in the end, everyone was hurt by it. No one was pointing fingers, no one to blame and everyone took it on the chin and just get out to the next one, didn’t dwell on it.’During the next week, Addazio and the players broke down the film looking for what the team did right and wrong in the loss. Addazio urged his team to have a short-term memory and improve upon what had been a gritty performance despite the result.‘I think the kids understand in major college football there’s a very narrow margin for error,’ Addazio said. ‘ … I think they understand that, I think they embrace that, we’re improving, we’re still a work in progress, but I’d rather correct schematical things than the passion and toughness and the love of the game.’And Temple rebounded a week later behind 425 yards of total offense and a stellar defensive performance to embarrass the Terrapins. It was a win Addazio knew his team was capable of after the correct adjustments were made.Temple has dominated nearly every facet of the game en route to a 3-1 start under Addazio’s new approach.The Owls have been one of the best in the country defensively, limiting their opponents to just four touchdowns and giving up 7.75 points per game — the fewest in the nation. Temple is also 15th in the nation in total defense, holding opponents to 273 yards per game.Junior running back Bernard Pierce has anchored the offense with 496 yards rushing. He also leads the nation with 12 rushing touchdowns.But despite the early success, Addazio wants his team to stay grounded.‘We’re a lunch pail team,’ Addazio said. ‘We’re going to come every day, come to work and pack our lunch and get ready to go, there’s no frills. I don’t believe we’re going to ride the highs and the lows.‘We’re going to go about the task every game. We understand it’s a dogfight and the margin for error is small. I like our team’s attitude. I like where we are.’Addazio’s presence hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. Defensive back Kevin Kroboth explained that his fiery pregame speeches and his new motto are a source of motivation heading into each game.‘He’s a real high-energy guy,’ Kroboth said. ‘He lets you know what we need to do for this game — if we need to be that tougher team and bring that Temple tough atmosphere we incorporate here into the program.’Temple has carried that mentality into each game this season. And Addazio hopes his team will continue to bring the intensity to each practice and game for the rest of the season.‘We are a tough, physical football team, and we play in a tough city,’ Addazio said. ‘Our goal has been to become increasingly mentally tougher, meaning the execution level of what we do at a higher level.’adtredin@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img