Addazio bringing new energy to Temple football

Addazio bringing new energy to Temple football
August 25, 2011, 4:51 am
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If it wasnt obvious by the booming voice and the fist-pounding coming from upstairs at the Edberg-Olson Football Complex on Wednesday, it became clear by what the players had to say from the practice field during Temple footballs media day:

New coach Steve Addazio has plenty of energy and thats exactly what they need.

Theres been a lot more intensity in camp, said Temple senior linebacker Quinten White, Jr. Its been inspiring to me as a player. I feel like the coaches have brought a lot more energy. Their enthusiasm gets you fired up, gets you going.

Added center John Palumbo, I think this year everyone is a little more upbeat in camp.

Of course, Addazio still has a lot to prove as Temple footballs new leader, having replaced the highly successful Al Golden, who bolted for the University of Miami after guiding the once-downtrodden Owls to two straight winning seasons for the first time since 1978.

But since opening his first training camp on Aug. 5, the coach has noticed that his new players have fed off his liveliness which is certainly a good start.

I dont know what the past means, Addazio told reporters during Wednesdays media day press conference from the Edberg-Olson Football Complex. All I know is what the present is. And what I see right now is a group of guys that have responded well to change. Theyre excited. I like their attitude.

Whats yet to be determined is if were the type of team to get to the next level. Weve had two straight winning seasons; now its about sustaining and driving from here. This would by year three of that growth.

Addazio, who spent the previous six seasons as an assistant at the University of Florida, will learn a little bit more about his team next Thursday when the Owls open their season against Villanova in the Mayors Cup at Lincoln Financial Field (7 p.m., ESPN3).

Its an important rivalry game, to be sure. But, perhaps more important, is that its the first game in a 12-game quest to return to bowl season after a one-year hiatus.

Were excited for the start of the season and cant wait to get going, said Addazio, his voice rising. You work all year for 10, 11, 12 shots. All of a sudden, its really here. There are 12 shots.

The coach banged the table as he yelled 12 shots, and then continued:

Its not another workout in the weight room. Its not other inside drill at practice.

No, its college football season and it just about here.

Temples QB battle
Addazio wants to have one starting quarterback when the season begins next week.

He just doesnt know who its going to be as junior Mike Gerardi and senior Chester Stewart are currently in the midst of a fierce battle for the opening-day spot.

Im not ready to name a starter yet, Addazio said, adding he wont make his decision public until next week. Theres no strategy, no agenda thats just my mindset right now. Those guys are working hard and I want to keep that going. I want to evaluate it as long as I can.

Last year, Stewart started the first even games, completing 72 of 135 passes for 842 yards and four touchdowns, before Gerardi came on for the last five games, going 93 of 156 for 1,290 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Sophomore Chris Coyer and redshirt freshman Connor Reilly are also in the QB mix.

The good news is weve got talented players, Addazio said. The good news is there is competition and its not a one-man show. Who exactly is the right guy? Quite frankly, I can tell you Id be OK with either one. Its a good problem to have. Its not hurting our team, its helping our team.

High praise for Pierce
Before coming to Temple, Addazio coached at such high-profile programs as Florida, Indiana, Notre Dame and Syracuse which means, among other things, that the Temple coach knows a good running back when he sees one.

How does Temple junior Bernard Pierce rank?

Hes absolutely as talented or more talented as almost anyone Ive been around, Addazio said.

Thats certainly high praise, but if anyone deserves it, its Pierce, who burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2009, rushing for 1,361 yards and a school-record 16 touchdowns.

The Glen Mills grad fell off a little bit in his sophomore campaign, rushing for 728 yards and 10 TDs, but Addazio expects bigger things in 2011.

Hes had a great winter and a great training camp, the Temple coach said. His work ethic became stronger. I expect he would have a great start to the season. Id be surprised if it were any different.

Local FCS powers
In the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), local powers Penn and Villanova are, predictably, getting some nice preseason recognition.

In the FCS Coaches Preseason Poll, Villanova is ranked No. 13 while Penn snuck in at No. 24.

Villanova, which opens its season next Thursday against Temple, has made three straight NCAA playoff appearances, including consecutive trips to the national semifinals in 2009 and 2010, winning the FCS championship in 2009.

Penn, which cant qualify for the postseason because of Ivy League rules, has won the last two league championships. This year, the Quakers will be vying for their third straight undefeated Ivy League season, which has never been done before.

The Quakers, who just opened training camp this week, dont begin their season until Sept. 17, when they host Lafayette at Franklin Field.

This is the first installment of a weekly college football notebook focusing on Temple, Villanova and Penn. Email Dave Zeitlin at djzeitlin@gmail.com.