"They have lost some tough ball games, but they have had two weeks to prepare for us. They played us hard and physical last year when we playing for the Big East title, so we know we have to get ready for them."
It's no secret that the Owls' offensive attack revolves around quarterback Walter Washington, but even with that knowledge, opposing defenses have been hard pressed to stop the massive signalcaller. In many respects, Washington is to Temple what Rasheed Marshall is to West Virginia. Even though the Mountaineer quarterback has more weapons around him, opposing defenses still try, and for the most part have failed, to contain WVU's outstanding senior.
"Washington poses a threat in a number of ways," Rodriguez said. "He's such a big guy and a powerful runner. How many QBs bench 475 pounds? He gained 5-6 yards every time against us last year. Everyone knows he's the key to their offense, but people key on him and he still gets it done. It' a big challenge to tackle him and get him on the ground."
Conversation then turned to Chris Henry's impending punishment, but despite several attempts Rodriguez quite rightly did not reveal what the disciplinary action would be.
"I have made a decision, but I want to talk to the athlete first," Rodriguez said, as he avoided naming the junior wide receiver. "I'm not sure if it warrants an announcement. It seems like there's an awful big brouhaha over this – I guess it's interesting to people.
"I will also discuss it with the team," the fourth-year head coach continued. "When you have a bunch of young men, there are always lessons to be learned. Maybe in the long run it's best for the people in the long run. I think our guys are still learning. There's not a player on our team who doesn't have lessons to be learned before their career is over."
Rodriguez did note several options that were available to him, including anything from taking away a start, playing time in part of the game, or an entire game. He also noted that his meeting with Henry "would not be an arbitration."
"It's not like we're each going to present our case and have Judge Judy decide it," Rodriguez said with a chuckle. "It's my decision."
The Grant Town, W. Va. native also said that a lot more goes into such a decision that just what happened on the field, an intimation that, as is usually true in these cases, the general public doesn't know everything that is going on.
"There's more than just the incident that goes into the consideration of what I am going to do," Rodriguez said in response to the suggestion that he looked ready to dismiss Henry from the team after the second penalty. "Was I inclined to throw him off the team? No. I was more upset with the first penalty than the second after watching the replay. We've gotten the crossed arm called on us, although other people don't get it called. But I told the team specifically not to do that. The second one didn't bother me as much as the first one. He kind of flipped the ball at him."
Rodriguez reiterated his belief that the Scarlet Knight program has gotten better.
"I still think Rutgers has improved – we took over a pretty solid program, and they probably had further to come than we did. But you can see what they have done so far. We knew it was going to be a good ballgame."
* * *
Rodriguez again distinguished between the types of penalties that continue to plague his team, and noted that while he can accept penalties that come from effort, he is frustrated by those that result from mental errors.
"Penalties that our guys should know better are the ones that concern us," Rodriguez explained. "Those are the ones caused by lack of discipline or momentary lack of concentration. We'll have to decrease their playing time, because that may be what gets their attention. There do seem to be a lot more penalties this year, a lot more in the league. We're not coaching them any differently."