The Not-So-Curious Case Of Sharif Finch

Sharif Finch was named the Most Improved Defensive Player at the end of Temple's spring drills. The Owls are hoping the pass rush, which will include the sophomore leading the way at defensive end, will be the most improved aspect of the team this year.

Sharif Finch was named Temple’s Most Improved Defensive Player at the end of spring drills.

The Owls are hoping the pass rush, which will include the sophomore leading the way at defensive end, will be the most improved aspect of the team this year.

“We had 18 sacks last year, to play good defense you have to have 35-40,” said Temple defensive coordinator Phil Snow. “The secondary takes the brunt of it, because that is who everybody sees, but you don’t stop the passing game until you rush the passer. If we have 20 sacks, we won’t be very good again. Last year our outside pass rushers ran a 5-flat, 5.1, now they’re running 4.5-4.6, that’s a big difference.”

Temple converted a pair of former linebackers in Praise Martin-Oguike and Finch to defensive end this year. Finch saw significant playing time as a true freshman linebacker last year and put on 24 pounds – he is now listed at 231 – to play the defensive end role.

“I really enjoy this position, it’s more of a natural position for me and where I’m more comfortable,” said Finch, who had 30 tackles and two sacks last year. “I was an inside linebacker in high school, but I did a lot of blitzing and I think that transitioned over.

“I came here to be a football player … Wherever they needed, I’ll play. I believe in my abilities, wherever I’m needed I feel I could excel.”

The Owls certainly needed help on the defensive line, especially since linebacker was something of a strength. Snow noted defensive ends in the Owls’ scheme aren’t always hand-in-the-dirt linemen anyway.

“That position we drop, we’ll stand both ends up,” said Snow. “The two ends now are more like linebackers. It’s to get more speed on field. We’re a lot faster on defense.”

Finch  said the spring award meant a lot because it showed how far he had come from his freshman year, especially moving to a new position.

“I got early playing time … I played at Notre Dame when I was 17 years old,” said Finch, who was being eased into training camp coming off a knee surgery. “It’s priceless to experience that.  I learned the scheme more, and it helped me improve. (The award) showed me the progression I made transitioning into sophomore year and a new position and becoming a leader.”

If the Owls can solve one of their biggest flaws from 2012, it will likely be due to players like Finch putting up impressive sack numbers.

“I just love playing football (in general), but I do love rushing the passer,” said Finch. “I’d like to get some stats, get some production because that’s been a huge emphasis to get some pressure on the quarterback.”

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