The Future Is Now

When Temple football coach Steve Addazio looks out on the field at many of his freshmen and sophomores, he sees a bright future. But he also sees the present in those same players, which the coach knows carries both positive and negative connotations.

When Temple football coach Steve Addazio looks out on the field at many of his freshmen and sophomores, he sees a bright future.

But he also sees the present in those same players, which the coach knows carries both positive and negative connotations.

Left tackle Zach Hooks is a redshirt freshman and right guard Kyle Friend is a true freshman. He has seen sophomore Jalen Fitzpatrick develop into the Owls' top receiver and others like true freshman Khalif Herbin show signs of being ready to play.

On defense, redshirt freshman Nate Smith is the starter at middle linebacker, while his backup is another freshman in Tyler Matakevich. Freshman Tavon Young is seeing increased time at corner, while the best corner on the team is sophomore Anthony Robey.

The Owls and their young nucleus announce their return to the Big East with a home game against South Florida on Saturday. A more veteran team would have given Temple a better chance for success this year in a rugged league, but Addazio has stressed he is looking at the long-term.

"It's great, tremendous (to have all that young talent), but I know what it means now, too," admitted Addazio. "There's a lot of football ahead of those guys. They're getting better every day, but they make freshmen mistakes and the consistency isn't where it needs to be. We need a little more consistency in there."

Addazio has fretted about the depth on his offensive line since graduating four starters from last year's team. Hooks worked his way into the starting lineup in the spring, while the staff has had to rush Friend into action at guard.

"Zach obviously is a little ahead of Kyle because he did have spring football," said Addazio. "Kyle is coming. They'll be good players. They're both worker bees.

"But it's tough. Freshmen linemen playing is crazy, but I like where they're headed. They're really good players, we have two good ones. They still make freshman mistakes though, they get beat by veteran pass rushers."

Addazio has also found himself willing to give his young receivers more time both in practice and games. Veterans Deon Miller, Ryan Alderman and C.J. Hammond have just six catches combined – four from Alderman - through three games, and that could mean freshmen Herbin, Romond Deloatch. Samuel Benjamin and John Christopher find themselves in on more plays.

Asked about possible personnel changes to spark the passing game, Addazio said they are coming.

"We're playing those young receivers on a full-time basis., we want to take advantage of that and get them ready to play," said Addazio. "They're going to play a bunch. How much is a bunch? I can't tell you. (But) we're addressing our situation."

Because the Owls are playing so many young players, Addazio is pushing them hard in practice. Having two bye weeks in the last three hasn't helped them develop any faster since they'll improve more by playing.

Addazio said he liked the bye week three weeks ago because the Owls were so banged up, but this past week would have preferred to be on the field after the loss to Penn State. Still he feels good about the work Temple has put in during practice and is confident heading into the league opener.

"We need our older guys to play their best for us to win, we need that to happen," said Addazio. "When you're young you need your older guys to play their best, and we don't have (many) older guys.

"So we're working overdrive to mature our team at a faster rate. I hope we get a return Saturday, but there's no guarantee."

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