Temple center Matt Hennessy should get credit for honesty. Asked his evaluation of the offensive line in the winless Owls' first two games, the redshirt sophomore said candidly, "We are close to being good but not quite there yet."
Close won't get the job done when the Owls visit Maryland (2-0) on Saturday (noon, Big Ten Network). Maryland has recorded seven sacks in its wins over Texas and Bowling Green. Temple has allowed three sacks, but the Owls haven't gotten great production from the running game because there haven't been many open lanes. They are averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.
"It still comes down to execution," Hennessy said. "It was the same story against Villanova and Buffalo. If you look at the times we have been beaten up front, it is very few times. It has just been execution, and if we get those figured out, there is no limit to what we can do up front."
This kind of confidence has been shared by the Owls all week. Publicly, many players say being a 14 1/2-point underdog against the Terrapins doesn't matter.
"We don't worry about things like that," running back Ryquell Armstead said. "We are a great team and we know this and come in every day and compete, and we're getting ready for Maryland on Saturday."
Added cornerback Rock Ya-Sin: "Confidence comes from demonstrated ability, and we have demonstrated our ability out there through the winter workouts, through the tough grind here. So we are still very confident."
That said, he was stunned by the results of the first two games.
"We took two losses to teams before the season I was 100 percent sure we were going to dominate four quarters both games," Ya-Sin said.
One area in which Temple has fared well is special teams. The Owls have scored a touchdown off a blocked field goal and another off a blocked punt.
"Their special teams jump off the tape on how hard they play and the passion they play," Maryland interim coach Matt Canada said this week.
One question about the Owls' special teams will be the availability of placekicker Aaron Boumerhi, who didn't return last week after missing a 40-yard field goal attempt against Buffalo. Coach Geoff Collins said Boumerhi has been suffering from a hip injury.