Task At Hand

A road game against Akron sandwiched around home contests versus Villanova and Penn State. Is it a trap game? Temple head coach Steve Addazio thinks it is, but he also believes his team is ready to keep its focus on the Zips this week in the Mid-American Conference opener.

A road game against Akron sandwiched around home contests versus Villanova and Penn State.

Is it a trap game? Temple head coach Steve Addazio thinks it is, but he also believes his team is ready to keep its focus on the Zips this week in the Mid-American Conference opener.

"I think it's a mindset in college football that every week you have to bring your ‘A' game," said Addazio. "We're on the road for the first time as a new program, we have a lot of challenges here and we certainly understand there's no way we can be a team looking forward."

The Owls played a strong, fundamentally sound game in rocking Villanova, 42-7, in the opener last Thursday, while the Zips fell to No. 18/No. 16 Ohio State, 42-0, after winning just one game last year.

This is the first road game in the Addazio era, and many players like quarterback Mike Gerardi and linebacker Blaze Caponegro won spots in the last week of training camp and want to build on strong first games. Those factors should help the Owls avoid the letdown that might come with playing a team they dominated, 30-0, a year ago.

"You have to.pack your defense, your run game and your senior leadership when you go on the road," said Addazio. "I addressed that Sunday, it's all in the approach of the head coach and staff. I don't play mind games, what I say is what I mean. Everything in my staff's power is built around our team bringing our ‘A' game to practice this week.

"These kids have a sense of how fragile things are, they lived it a year ago (when they were 8-4 and missed out on a bowl game). A little bit more here or there would have made all the difference in the world."

Senior center John Palumbo indicated he was impressed with what he saw on tape of the Zips despite the lopsided result against the Buckeyes this week, comparing it to a 31-6 Temple loss to Penn State in 2009 that preceded a nine-game winning streak.

"We've always had that one-game-at-a-time mentality," said Palumbo. "They're a great team, a program on the rise. I'm sure they saw some of the good things they did when they watched the film of the Ohio State game and that gave them some confidence."

It appears the Zips have the Owls' attention, and Temple has definitely made an impression on Akron.

"They'll come out on the field and I don't know that we'll see much difference from them and Ohio State," said Akron coach Rob Ianello. "They have a big, powerful offensive line, a tremendous tailback (Bernard Pierce), big receivers, really good tight ends, they have the whole package. I felt that last year and I feel it again this year."

This game will provide Gerardi with another opportunity to solidify the starting quarterback position. He went 14-for-20 for 235 yards and two touchdowns in a nearly flawless performance against Villanova after barely receiving the nod ahead of Chris Coyer.

"(Gerardi) did great, he had a great game, he threw the ball well, he was a leader on field, executed the game plan well, he performed the way he needed to perform," said Addazio. "He showed great poise and confidence,that was important. We were trying to find guys who would step up and lead a little bit, and the last 10 days that happened and he did it in the game as well."

Coyer and redshirt senior Chester Stewart, who has been reinstated after a one-game suspension, are co-No. 2s on the depth chart. Addazio also reinstated cornerback Kee-ayre Griffin after a one-game suspension.

Addazio said he was impressed with the Zips' personnel, including linebacker Brian Wagner and new starting quarterback Clayton Moore. Ianello is counting on the improvement teams make from game to game early in the season proving to be a benefit to his squad.

"From Week 1 to Week 2, you should make your most improvement and I would expect that to happen here in a conference game against a very, very, very good Temple team that has as much talent as anybody in the Mid-American Conference," said Ianello.

But likewise, Addazio feels the Owls can tidy up some issues in protection, special teams and tackling that can lead to improvement. And if both teams make strides at a similar rate, Temple should record the win that sends them into next week's anticipated showdown with Penn State at 2-0.

But the Owls have to take care of business first.

"I feel in my heart I could care less about Penn State," said Addazio. "I can't wait to get ready for Akron."

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