Harry Mayes Previews ECU vs Temple
Jon Jansen: What’s the feeling like there being ranked for the first time since 1979? Harry Mayes: “It’s pretty euphoric man. I remember when they were ranked back in 1979 and that was the year they went to the Garden State Bowl and beat California, I was 14 years old. But the fan base is ecstatic. All they’re asking now is, when the Notre Dame kick-off was. Now we know when that is at 8 o’clock. And now the next question is, is ESPN Gameday coming to Lincoln Financial Field. They’re so fired up for all this exposure. Which is really great and that’s why this game is so important, because we need to win that game. If we lose to East Carolina, which could happen, it’s going to take a little starch out of it. But right now it’s euphoric.” JJ: Temple has not been the strongest program, but what has changed under head coach Matt Rhule? HM: “He’s changed the mindset and culture of the entire place into a winning culture. Why can’t we win here? We have so many recruits available to us in the near area. Temple used to recruit everywhere and anywhere to try to pull guys. He took the Al Golden model. Which is the talent is right here within a 150 mile radius of the school. There is so much talent. Let’s own that area and he’s changed the mindset of the high school coaches. This is a real program, it’s not just I’m just coming in here to win some games and get another job. He’s instilled this idea that it is a program and not just a season.” JJ: Temple has the best defense in the conference, what makes them so good? HM: “The coordinator is amazing. Phil Snow is an amazing coordinator who came in with Matt (Rhule). At first, the first couple games a two years ago they were losing, in the first year. And they were losing a lot of games late, a lot of crazy plays against UCF, Fordham, and Rutgers. He was getting a lot of grief and he stayed the course and finally got the kids to buy into what he was teaching them. Ever since then the switch has gone and now they become this ravenous defense that is just so hard to run against. And now they got Sean Chandler, who is now a sophomore cornerback, started as a true freshman and is bound for the NFL. He is an amazing kid from Camden (New Jersey) that bought into the program. Tavon Young is a senior on the other side. They got a few kids from JUCO. Safety Alex Wells is a really good player. He came in a solidified the back end too. But it’s all built around (Tyler) Matakevich. Matakevich is, what I call him, a heat-seeking missile. He finds the play and he plays with such an energy and it is just infectious to the group. When they make a play behind scrimmage, whether it’s him or (Matt) Ioannidis or Nate Smith or Praise Martin-Oguike, they make one big play it energizes the whole group. Then the make another big and then the whole sideline is going crazy. That’s how they win.” JJ: Jahad Thomas is the leading rusher in the American. What makes him so dynamic? HM: “He came as a defensive player at first. He was PJ (Walker) backfield mate in high school. PJ was the quarterback and he was the running back. But they brought him in here and they were like ‘he’s kind kind of small and where does fit?’ Defensive back. Then he ends up being the running back and he’s assumed the role. Were stacked at running back and I think that motivates him to keep this starting spot because there are so many talented freshman behind him, Ryquell Armstead, (Jager) Gardener and (David) Hood. They are three guys that are knocking on door and he’s like ‘no I’m not giving up the spot.’ He’s tough. He’s just a tough kid and has incredible vision in the hole. He’s not a super-fast guy, but he’s got just incredible moves and just a shifty guy, side to side.” JJ: P.J. Walker has eight touchdowns and three interceptions so far, but for a dual-threat quarterback, has negative six yards. Has he improved since the last time East Carolina played Temple? HM: “He’s an improved pocket quarterback. I think the game has slowed down for him this year. And he’s also finally responding to the coaching. You don’t have to win the game all by yourself. You don’t have to get it all in one play. I think he had the mentality two years ago of I got to make something happen, I got to win the game. Sometimes sort of taking on too much and turning the ball over or make a negative play. He’s sort of letting the teammates do it now and just being the point guard, if you will.” JJ: Robby Anderson was the team’s leading receiver in 2013 but sat out 2014 because of academics. Has the Temple offense benefited from him being back? HM: “Without question. He’s a game breaker at the wide out position. Of course he being out last year really affected PJ too. Where he felt like he had to do it himself because he didn’t have a guy like Robby. Robby has incredible ball skills. He’s one of those guys that looks the ball into his hands, knows where his feet are. He’s just got all kinds of skill. And he’s got speed, which really changes the way you have to defend Temple now. Then you put a Adonis Jennings on the other side. Ventell Bryant is a redshirt freshman who has emerged this year as a viable option. And Kip Patton is a freshman tight end, he’s a pass catching tight end. I think he has 13 or 14 receptions as a freshman. He has sort of emerged as a guy that they can us and make you respect the seam now too.”
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