Tall Order

As if an 0-4 start to the season wasn't tough enough for the Temple football team, seventh-ranked Louisville and Heisman Trophy winner Teddy Bridgewater are coming to Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday. Coach Matt Rhule knows the Owls have a tall challenge ahead but wouldn't call his team discouraged.

As if an 0-4 start to the season wasn't tough enough for the Temple football team, seventh-ranked Louisville and Heisman Trophy winner Teddy Bridgewater are coming to Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.

Coach Matt Rhule knows the Owls have a tall challenge ahead but wouldn't call his team discouraged. Temple lost its third close game on Saturday when it fell at Idaho, 26-24, despite a school-record 24 tackles from linebacker Tyler Matakevich.

"Obviously it was disappointing to not come away with the win," said Rhule on Monday's American Athletic Conference Coaches' call. "Players showed toughness and courage coming back and fighting down to the wire after we got behind early, but we still came up a little short.

"We're facing a dynamic, top-10 type of team (in Louisville). You just have to try to make a play. There were a few plays we didn't make in the Idaho game."

The Owls missed the opportunities to convert some big plays in the passing game and also continued a season-long trend of allowing big plays on the defensive side of the ball on Saturday.

"Idaho hit us on a couple long wheels, threw it to the back out of the backfield," said Rhule. "The issue all year has been big plays, getting our guys to eliminate big plays."

And maybe nobody in college football is as good at hitting a big play than Bridgewater, who dominated the Owls at Louisville last year. He is completing 71 percent of his passes for 1,214 yards with 14 touchdowns and one interception so far this season.

"I think the biggest thing you can say is he's NFL ready, you can see him making checks at the line, make all the different throws that can translate to the next level," said Rhule. "Not only is he is a Heisman candidate, he'll be a great one at the next level.

"You have to eliminate the deep balls and big plays, take that away. You have to move him and hit him and get him off his spot. If you have to blitz, you'll be susceptible. If he's comfortable, he's deadly."

Despite the winless record — which included two games in which the Owls were favored — Rhule said the mood isn't heavy around Edberg-Olson Hall.

"I think the mood of the team is really good," said Rhule. "There's a bunch of seniors battling, that want to go out on the right foot. There's freshmen and sophomores, they're out there losing, but they know they are a play or two away.

"The difference between winning and losing is a fraction of an inch, and they can see that. I don't think we have a fractured team or psyche at all. They want to win."

And maybe most importantly, Rhule said recruits aren't discouraged either.

"I think recruits have been excited because they see an opportunity to play," said Rhule.

"Offensive kids watching us play like the system, they like what we're doing even if it hasn't clicked. You're looking for the best opportunity for you, and we've been well received. Players want to come here."

Owls Daily Top Stories