PHILADELPHIA - Temple coach Matt Rhule doesn't want any pity. He didn't take over the Owls to look competitive against nationally ranked teams like Notre Dame and lose.
Though the young Owls did gain valuable experience in a 28-6 loss to the Irish, Rhule is after victories, and not the moral kind. Today, he'll take his second crack at his first.
Rhule and the Owls will host Houston at Lincoln Financial Field in their home opener. It will be the American Athletic Conference football debut for both programs.
"I don't like to lose and I don't think it's OK to lose," Rhule said. "I can live with losing to a team we think is significantly better and we played our best game and they were just better than us. I don't think that was the case. I think (Notre Dame) is a very good team, but we didn't play our best game.
"There is a lot to build on."
Against Houston, Temple at least has a good idea of what junior quarterback Connor Reilly can do. In his first collegiate start, playing before a packed house at Notre Dame Stadium, Reilly completed 23-of-46 passes for 288 yards without an interception-and endured numerous dropped balls. He kept Notre Dame's defense off balance with short passes and knew when and where the blitzes were coming from.
Temple's biggest concern is the Cougars' explosive, up-tempo offense. It's something that Rhule says he sees every day.
"We go fast," Rhule said. "The one thing with tempo is, I don't want to make a big deal about it, because then it becomes a crutch. At the end of the day, football is about me beating you one-on-one. The tempo is just something we do."
Here are five things to watch when the Owls meet Houston:
Looking good: Sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich was challenged during the offseason by Rhule to be more aggressive. After leading Temple in tackles as a true freshman last year, Matakevich led the Owls with a game-high 11 - including two for loss - against Notre Dame.
Strong up the middle: Tight end Romond DeLoatch had a 20-yard catch in the second quarter that led to Temple's lone touchdown. At 6-foot-4, and 213 pounds, DeLoatch is a rangy target that could be a viable option down the middle of the field.
Tough to control the Cougars: The Owls had their problems defensively last year, and those same problems resurfaced again in the season-opener against Notre Dame. The Owls were stung a number of times by big plays in one-on-one coverage. Temple surrendered 534 yards of total offense to the Irish. The Owls face a Houston offense that's eighth in the country, after pounding FCS Southern for 627 yards of offense in a 62-13 victory.
Focus on Fitz: Temple needs more production from junior Jalen Fitzpatrick. He was supposed to be the Owls' go-to wide receiver. He caught two passes for 16 yards against Notre Dame, but also dropped a number of catchable passes.
Learning curve: Against Notre Dame, Temple had 13 see their first collegiate playing time, including Mainland Regional place-kicker Jim Cooper and eight other true freshmen. Topping that list was starting middle linebacker Jarred Alwan, who was caught one-on-one with Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas for a 66-yard scoring pass, after Temple closed to within 14-6 in the second quarter.
Cooper also had a tough day, missing both field goals and an extra point.
"You really only have one of two directions to go," Cooper said after the game. "You can fold, you can let it get to you, or, you know, we have a week of practice. Make it a good week, try to build from it."