football Edit

Monday notebook: Carey previews Houston, provides D'Wan Mathis update

Temple head coach Rod Carey talked to reporters Monday afternoon during his weekly press conference two days after the Owls’ 45-3 loss at ECU that extended the team’s losing streak to four games and dropped its record to 3-6 overall and 1-4 in American Athletic Conference play.

“We had about an eight- or nine-minute game stretch where we had our opportunities to get ourselves back into that game and didn’t capitalize on any,” Carey said. “In fact, the reverse happened.”

The third-year head coach told reporters starting quarterback D’Wan Mathis’ status for Saturday’s game is still uncertain. Mathis left in the second quarter of the ECU game after getting sacked and grabbing his left ankle.

Monday is a scheduled off day for the Owls, but Carey added Mathis would not have participated in a hypothetical practice today. Justin Lynch replaced Mathis against ECU and will get the start this week if Mathis can’t play.

Defensive end Will Rodgers is back on the practice field after missing the past couple of games, but Carey is unsure if he will play in a game again this season.

Carey also provided injury updates, recapped what went wrong against ECU and previewed the team’s matchup at home against No. 17 Houston this weekend.

Here are some other excerpts and quotes from the press conference:

Carey on where Houston ranks in the AAC:

“Probably the most talented football team in the league from film study. I know some people would call Cincinnati that, too and, you know, I think you’re just splitting hairs there between those two teams. Certainly, the most dynamic offense we’ve faced so far. Good challenge for us this week, and I know we’ll be excited to be back home and playing again.”

Carey on what Houston does well on offense and defense:

“They are very disruptive on defense. Extremely disruptive. That is the mark of a really good defense. Offensively, you know, the quarterback (Clayton Tune) is playing at a high level, and they have really good skill around him surrounded by an offensive line that is staying on blocks and allowing that skill to have space whether that is in the pass game protecting or in the run game creating some holes.”

Carey on stopping Houston’s passing and running game by moving players in and out of the box on defense:

“You’re gonna have to have a balance of that. You’re going to have to have guys in the box certainly when you have dynamic running backs (Alton McCaskill and Ta’Zhawn Henry) like they do. Not just one running back. Hopefully get them into situations where it is a more obvious passing situation so you can lighten that box and play good defense with their dynamic skill outside.”

Carey on giving up a big kickoff return at the start of the second half against ECU:

“We had lost leverage from our field contain that got it up the sideline. Then we had an unblocked player miss a tackle, so as far as an adjustment to it, I don’t know how much. I know ... we’re disappointed. We had him in the right position, and he was in the right position. We’re both disappointed we just didn’t execute that tackle.”

Carey on addressed the underlying cause of Temple’s mental and physical errors:

“As you go through it, I don’t make excuses. I don’t do any of that. We gotta coach them better. There is certainly, you know, a lot of youth. Even with our older guys being back last week there is still youth and inexperience there that can lead to some of that. We have to coach them better, and we have to get them moving in the right direction. Some are similar physical errors and some are not. The burden goes to everybody on that, and it starts with me.”

Carey on how the team is staying together through the losing streak:

“You know, there have certainly been those conversions where we’re in this together, and they certainly understand that. We’ve had those discussions, and we’ll continue. This team has stayed together. There isn’t a rift or a divide in there. We’re a pretty bonded group. Everybody wants to be doing better. Me included. It is all of our jobs to be doing it together, and it starts with me. We have to get that going here. We knew coming into the year we were a young and inexperienced team and certainly didn’t think we’d have these amount of struggles that we’ve had, but we do. So we have to go ahead and keep addressing them and keep addressing them together.”

Carey on what specifically the run defense needs to do to improve on:

“Well, eliminate the big play. I don’t know what the exact number was, I think it was 12 tackles for loss in the game last week but then there were, you know, there were eight runs north of 10 yards. That equals out to what you get, and then you get a bad stat sheet with the run game. It’s frustrating because at times, you’re doing a high-level job of it, and then it goes to a real low level. We have got to eliminate the big plays, and when we have an opportunity to get them down for four or five yards, get them down and live to fight another down. The high level is good. We need to bring the bottom up.”

Carey on Lynch’s progression this season:

“[The ECU game] was really his most extensive time since Boston College. I thought there were definitely some nerves on his part early on, and I think that led to some inconsistencies with his decision-making. This week, if D’Wan can’t go, he’ll get the lion’s share of the reps. That will hopefully eliminate some of those inconsistencies when you’re getting the number one reps as opposed to the number two reps, in practice, there will definitely be a better comfort zone there with the game plan.”

Carey on how the offense can improve on third-and-long situations:

“We’re trying to throw the kitchen sink at, and we will continue to do that as far as being successful on first and second down to stay out of those third downs. That is the first answer. The second answer is, you know, you gotta do some different things on third down when we are in those third and longs. Certainly tried some of those last week and need to continue to try doing those to wiggle us loose here a little bit and convert on third down.

Carey on if he talks about potential bowl eligibility with the team:

“I don’t talk about winning out. I don’t talk about handling a three-game schedule. We take one game at a time. At the end of the year, we go ahead and add them up. Everyone is certainly aware of what our record is. We can’t get to what you’re talking about without handling this week. All of our focus is this week.”

Carey on Muheem McCargo overtaking Yvandy Rigby at the BUBO position:

“Competition is what that is. Muheem has done an outstanding job and really played the entire game last week. Had some things we definitely have to clean up in there, but was probably one of the bright spots on the defense. Certainly, when you’re talking about that small area of that position, Muheem has definitely separated himself right now.”

Carey on whether the team’s receivers are getting less separation now versus earlier in the season:

“I think we’ve certainly had some people open downfield. At times, we’ve missed them. Other times, they have been covered, and we’re throwing into that and those are tough throws to execute. Have to get better at that for sure.”