Monday, August 15, 2011

Practice? We're talking about practice

Steve Addazio talkin' about practice. Note the young man with the heavily marked up depth chart holding the tape recorder to the left. Kudos to him for coming to the interview prepared.

There's nothing like holding a newspaper in your hands and flipping through the sports section.
I thought about that on Sunday when I was able to grab a copy of the Pocono Record, which is one of my local papers in the summertime.
Reading through Page 3 of the sports section, the top two stories above the fold were about various football practices.
In one of them, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly talked of the quarterback duel between Dayne Crist and Tommy  Rees and said the position was "too close to call at this point."
The story to the right of that talked about Steelers' coach Mike Tomlin "being unhappy with the Steelers' lifeless play."
That got me to thinking about Steve Addazio saying pretty much the same thing over the past week as the Temple camp unfolded.
The quarterback position is too close to call and he was relatively unhappy with the first couple of practices.
I feel a little better now.
If Addazio lets the QB position play out, that will give him a better read before pulling the trigger on the starter. If he's unhappy with the practice tempo now, the Owls will rachet that up for him before long.
It's all part of the process at this point and nothing specific to Temple.
So talking about practice makes me a little uneasy.
It's a necessary, not evil, but means to my end and that's the fun of the games themselves.

Adam DiMichele and...
I want a demanding perfectionist as my head coach and Addazio's comments were the first hints to me that we have one.
I don't remember Al Golden saying  the same thing at this time last season.
Also, I've been through what seems to be a hundred years of Temple players performing well in practices but not so well in the games.
I watched as a quarterback named Mike McGann lit it up in practice after practice one year, only to lead the nation in interceptions (with 22) a few months later.
I watched as Vaughn Charlton, wearing an orange jersey (for no contact) complete 11 for 11 in a seven-on-seven drill in practice and reminded me a lot of Peyton Manning that day.

... Hunter Pence ... separated at birth.
When he got into games and the rush came near him, he reminded me of Mike McGann.
I saw a guy named Adam DiMichele (who looks a LOT like the Phillies Hunter Pence) SOMETIMES struggle in practice but shine when the bright lights went on during the games. He welcomed the rush. That's when he made big play after big play, by ducking out of it and completing third-down passes and running for 9 yards on seemingly every third-and-8.
I watched practice the last couple of years when Chester Stewart seemed to separate himself from the rest of the pack, only to hold the ball like a loaf of bread during games when he looked like Randall Cunningham but ran like Sonny Jurgesen. I then watched the Penn State game when he threw three interceptions right into the hands of Penn State players who were not even near the intended Temple receivers. I watched Chester drop back to see a Rod Streater (who beat a Northern Illinois defender by 15 yards) only to overthrow him by 25 yards. By then, I had it up to here with Chester. It took a pick 6 for a TD by a Bowling Green defender for Al Golden to feel the same way.
So, if Chester wins the job outright during practice the next couple of weeks it might cheer Addazio but it will be Groundhog Day for me.
A lot of the Steve Addazio supporters will say he knows better than I and I will agree with that but it won't make me more comfortable with him out there.
I know people like Mike Gerardi, Rod Streater, Joey Jones, Bernard Pierce, Evan Rodriguez, Alex Jackson and Matty Brown can move the sticks pretty regularly against anyone. That mix works for me. If you can work in Chester, Juice Granger and Chris Coyer after that (not necessarily in that order), more power to them.
And us.
That's the mix I'm hoping to see on 9/1.
But Addazio only has practice to go on before he makes that decision.
Hopefully, his gut will steer him in the right direction.