Westward Bound

The Temple University football team could be 2-1 if it would have just connected on a 25-yard field goal against Houston and a 23-yard field goal against Fordham. And while Owls coach Matt Rhule acknowledged the difference between winning and losing has been slim in a frustrating 0-3 start, success in the kicking game might have just sugarcoated the other problems on the team.

The Temple University football team could be 2-1 if it would have just connected on a 25-yard field goal against Houston and a 23-yard field goal against Fordham.

And while Owls coach Matt Rhule acknowledged the difference between winning and losing has been slim in a frustrating 0-3 start, success in the kicking game might have just sugarcoated the other problems on the team.

"Do I wish we were 2-1?" asked Rhule. "Absolutely, but we have issues that needed to be fixed and at 0-3 they're listening to me."

So faced with three losses in the first three games, Rhule gave his seniors three days off during the bye week to assess their place on the team. He took a long look at some young players, many who will start this Saturday when the Owls travel to Idaho.

"We found out a lot about this team, found out a lot about our players," said Rhule. "Some of our younger players did a great job elevating themselves. Some of our older players got better at what they're doing.

"As we left that last game, as someone who has been here a long time, I can't look certain people in the eye and say we are proud of our effort. We spent last week getting back to the basics of how we play football at Temple, and that's something we won't relent on."

Temple has another good chance at its first victory when it faces the 0-4 Vandals, coached by first-year coach Paul Petrino. Idaho is 120th in FBS in 12.8 points per game and 122nd in points against at 42.3.

The Vandals' one competitive game came in their lone home game, falling 45-35 to Northern Illinois.

Junior quarterback Connor Reilly, who came off the bench in the third quarter and led three scoring plays against Fordham, is healthy again and will make his third start. He didn't start against the Rams because he was nursing a sore knee.

And while Rhule didn't blame the kicking situation, he will start with a different kicker this week as freshman Nick Visco, who kicked two extra points against Fordham, will assume the kicking duties. Freshman Jim Cooper has struggled in three games, and having Paul Layton kick as well as punt isn't the answer.

"(Visco and Cooper) are both consistently inconsistent, it's not going through every time but it's getting better," said Rhule.

Rhule said he had former safety Dominique Harris talk to the team about starting 0-2 in 2009 and finishing 9-4 with a bowl experience.

"I've been through those things and I know the most important thing is to focus on the process," said Rhule. "We're putting a program in place step by step. It's in place now and the players have to understand the expectations, and when they do they'll be successful."

Maybe that will happen this week in Moscow, Idaho as Rhule again looks for his first win as head coach.

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