Central Florida coach George O’Leary had nothing but praise for Temple Monday during his American Athletic Conference teleconference on Monday.
Central Florida (8-1), ranked 17h in the nation, needed a 23-yard field goal with time running out over the weekend to pull out a 39-36 victory over Temple, which fell to 1-9 on the season with two games left to play.
“As I told Matt [Temple coach Rhule] after the game, keep plugging away because good things are going to start happening,” O’Leary said. “You’ve got the kids playing with great effort and that’s half the battle, and I think he knows that.
“It’s when you don’t win and they start pointing fingers at each other when the problems happen,” O’Leary said. “But when it happens it’s going to happen in bunches for Temple. I think they are building a great foundation. Those wins will come, and if they continue with the coaching they have going on there they are going to have a really good football team.”
O’Leary said that while it has not been reflected in their record, the Owls have gotten better each week, especially since going to quarterback P.J. Walker. Walker completed 26 of 44 passes for 382 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for another.
“I saw him come in at mid-season and they’ve done nothing but get better with him at the helm. He can do so many things with the ball; he did it against us,” O’Leary said. “He puts another back in that backfield that you have to be worried about. But he’s throwing the ball where it needs to be thrown and I think he’ s a tremendous athlete who gets the ball to the playmakers who need to have it in their hands.”
The Knights made a dramatic turnaround under O’Leary in his first two seasons. After going 0-11 in 2004, CFU went 0-11 to 8-5 and a bowl appearance in 2005.
The Owls, he says, are well coached.
“Defensively you’ve got to beat them because they don’t beat themselves,” O’Leary continued. “That means, in my opinion, that there is a lot of good coaching going on there.