Steve Addazio looks ahead to reunion with his mentor
Temple coach Steve Addazio may have been the last coach on Monday's Big East weekly conference call but he was certainly worth the wait.
Of course many of the questions centered around Addazio getting the chance to coach against UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni who gave Addazio his start in the coaching profession when he hired him as an assistant coach at Western Connecticut State in 1985.
“Obviously Coach P started me in this business. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without him, it begins and ends right there,” said Addazio, who will lead Temple against UConn on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Rentschler Field. “He taught me how to be a football coach. He is absolutely the most detailed guy I have ever been around.
“At WestConn, I could tell you stories – just crazy stuff. We all slept in the office. You are cutting old 16 millimeter film; you have strips of film hanging on the walls. Coach P has this makeshift wall where his coach was as the head coach which was nothing. We are all on the other side of the wall and go to sleep there going ‘night guys, night, Coach.’ It was like something out of The Waltons. That is how we all started washing socks and jocks. I came back from my wedding and Coach is on a tractor, I am on my hands and knees putting irrigation down to water the field. You just can’t make this stuff up. He is the best there is and I just have the greatest amount of respect for him.”
Addazio wasn't done yet heaping lofty praise on both Pasqualoni and UConn offensive coordinator George DeLeone.
"We are playing against a team coached by arguably one of the finest coaches certainly in the conference and maybe in the country," Addazio said. "I have worked with Coach Pasqualoni and Coach DeLeone and those are two just tremendous college football coaches, You watch them on film and they are extremely disciplined and well coached. They play hard and are one of the finest defenses in the conference. They certainly have some real marquee players on their team, especially on defense. We know that going on the road and into Connecticut is going to be very difficult. I am looking at a very talented football team, a much more experienced team than we are and I say with my heart that one of the very best coaches in the country in Paul Pasqualoni who I have the utmost respect for."
Pasqualoni wasn't in as much of a storytelling mode as Addazio during Monday’s call but it is clear that he holds Addazio in high regard as a motivator and tactician.
“He has always been a high energy, very positive, very motivational, give everything you have coach,” Pasqualoni said. “You could see that in him as a very young coach. There was no question that he had the skill set and ability to be a very good head coach at this level.
“Temple is obviously back in the conference so it is a big conference game. Every game in the conference is a big game so it is more of focus on get your team ready to play and if you get sidetracked with anything else you might be in trouble.”
When he wasn’t reflecting on the years coaching alongside Pasqualoni on Monday’s call Addazio did say that senior running back Matt Brown, who injured his ankle late in last week’s win over South Florida, is considered day to day.
“Matt’s an awfully competitive guy so if anybody’s got a chance to play it is Matt Brown,” Addazio said. “In his mind there is no doubt he will be playing.”
He also talked about former St. Joseph of Trumbull star Tyler Matakevich, a freshman linebacker who had 15 tackles in the win over USF.
“We knew he was a tough kid and that is why we brought him here,” Addazio said. “He is tough as nails and this is the kind of guy we want to bring in here. He was that way in the weight training but he got a little overwhelmed at everything that goes into playing college football. He is a smart guy but it takes a while. He is finally digesting it and really starting to come into his own.”
Addazio did talk a little bit more about the emotions of returning to play a game in Connecticut.
"I am really a proud guy from the state of Connecticut," Addazio said. "I’ve got a lot of family and lot of friends there. I spent my first 35 years in the state of Connecticut, all my children were born there so I have a great fondness for the state of Connecticut. I am excited to go back and bring our football team there to play a football game. There are a lot of different things, sidebars and I have a lot of guys on the staff from the state. That is always exciting and it is always fun. We are going in there to compete at a high level and try to win a major college football game. It is honestly all business. We have to play well, we have to execute and it has nothing to do with any of that other stuff."
BULLOCK MOVES UP ON DEPTH CHART
There was only one change in the UConn two-deep chart and that was at center where Tyler Bullock, who has started the last two games, was listed as the starter while Alex Mateas, who has been the starter on the depth chart each week, is listed as a second stringer.