Business Trip

When Al Golden was the head coach of the Temple football team, the Owls would occasionally move one of their practices from the comforts of Edberg Olson Hall to one of the high schools in the Philadelphia area. It was a move designed to build a bond with some of the schools where they would be recruiting, but it was also a way to throw a curveball into the Owls' normal routine.

When Al Golden was the head coach of the Temple football team, the Owls would occasionally move one of their practices from the comforts of Edberg Olson Hall to one of the high schools in the Philadelphia area.

It was a move designed to build a bond with some of the schools where they would be recruiting, but it was also a way to throw a curveball into the Owls' normal routine.

Temple is spending almost its entire spring practice on the road this year, setting up shop at high schools throughout the area – mostly Camden High School in South Jersey – because of the resurfacing of its practice field.

And while this year is more out of necessity, coach Matt Rhule – an assistant on Golden's staff for five seasons – feels the same benefits can be gained.

"It's one of the things we did when Al was here, move around on purpose, create controversy and let the kids know wherever they put the ball down, we'll play," said Rhule after the first two of 15 practice sessions this spring. "Camden has a great field, great space. The first day the buses pulled up (Monday), they ran right to where we go. Breaking up monotony is really good."

Junior linebacker Tyler Matakevich admitted it would be nice to able to walk outside the training complex and take the field, but has enjoyed the 20-minute bus ride to Camden and the camaraderie it has helped create.

"For me personally it doesn't matter, you come here, get ready, get taped, and then you get on the bus and we're talking to each other about football," said Matakevich. "Guys are focused. You know when you get off the bus, if your cleats aren't tied, you better tie them because when we get off the bus, it's all business."

Rhule said he's noticed a change in commitment from his first spring as head coach. When he gathers the team at 5:25 in the morning, everybody is ready to go.

"We're light years ahead of last year," said Rhule. "I want to be a tough, physical team that plays hard. We were getting there at the end of the year but we're not there yet. Last year we had a little more fun with practice because we wanted to change the mentality. Everybody was looking at it like work. But we built a trust, and now we're trying to take it to next level, it's more business-like."

Sophomore starting quarterback P.J. Walker didn't participate in spring practice last year because he was still in high school, so this is first experience. He said he's been building a rapport with wide receiver Khalif Herbin, who redshirted last year, and Romond Deloatch, who was injured most of last season and is moving from tight end to wide receiver.

"Everything is going great," said Walker. "The first day was a little slow, but I watched film and picked up some things. (The practices and film study) help you prepare for the next day. I'm taking each practice as a game. I'm preparing every day as if it's a game."

And Walker said it's been game on as soon as the buses arrive in Camden.

"Just get moving," said Walker of the mentality. "As soon as you get off the bus, get ready to practice."

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