Originally posted on No 2 Minute Warning  |  Last updated 4/14/12

Temple’s veteran Cherry Squad defeats White, sets sights on Big East in fall

Temple's veteran core led the Cherry squad to a victory in the annual Cherry White Game

Big East banners were hung around the lower bowl of Lincoln Financial Field for the first time since 2004 and fans were seen wearing t-shirts proclaiming their support for Temple’s return to the Big East. The Temple Owls, preparing for a return to the conference that once abolished the football program in to independence, wrapped up their spring practices with the annual Cherry White spring game. The Cherry Squad, led by veteran players and projected starters like quarterback Chris Coyer and running back Matt Brown on offense struggled at times but finished the spring with a 17-10 victory over the White Squad.

“We didn’t have any major injuries, and I have to tell you, I feel great about that” Temple head coach Steve Addazio said. “I don’t think today was as productive as we’ve been in spring ball… but I loved being in that environment.”

Addazio said he was happy to see quarterback Chris Coyer play well, despite missing on some passes early and often in the game. “He didn’t miss,” Addazio said. “We dropped too many footballs today. That kind of bothered me.”

Temple’s offense will be focused on running the football in 2012, even with the early departure for the NFL Draft by junior running back Bernard Pierce, who watched the game as a spectator from the White Squad’s sideline. Looking to take on an increased role out of the backfield will be Matt Brown, who has been a productive player for the Owls offense the past couple of years. Brown was named the team’s spirit award winner this spring, an honor Brown takes to heart.

“I’m pushing in the right direction for my team,” Brown said when asked what the award meant to him. “I want to do good at Temple University stat-wise like every player, but I want to win. I want to win more than anything.”

“Matt Brown has a sensational spring,” Addazio said. Brown was a little more limited in the spring game but Addazio believes he will be a major part of the team’s success as they open up Big East play in the fall. “He was dynamic this spring. I mean dynamic… I think he’ll be outstanding.”

Addazio does have some concerns for his Owls though, including the depth on the roster. Temple scratched eight players for the spring game. “Last year it wasn’t much different, we managed to stay somewhat healthy, ” said Addazio. “We’re developing some young players who are real exciting.”

On defense Addazio praised the efforts of red shirt freshman linebacker Nate Smith, out of Highland Park, New Jersey. Smith was everywhere on defense. “He plays hard and he’s all over the field and that’s what you want to hear when you’re talking about linebackers,” Addazio said. “At the end of the day, he’s a motor guy, in another zone which is good for a linebacker.” Smith was called for a horse-collar tackle on Matt Brown, but Addazio said the experience will come as he tries to make solid defensive plays. The effort, it appeared, was non-lacking.

Temple will open their 2012 season in Lincoln Financial Field on Friday, August 31 with their Mayor’s Cup Game against FCS and city-rival Villanova. The Owls have won each of the previous two meetings. The first Big East game on Temple’s schedule in 2012 will be played Saturday, October 6 when South Florida visits the Owls.

Temple Spring Game Awards

At halftime Temple honored their spring award winners, including the most improved players on the roster.

Mark Bresani Award for Spirit, RB Matt Brown

Gavin White Local 215 Award (most improved non-scholarship player), TE Wanemi Omuso

Defensive Most Improved Player, LB Ahkeem Smith

Offensive Most Improved Player, RB Jalenm Fitzpatrick

Special Teams Most Improved Plaer, LB Olaniyi Adewole

Owl Club Academic Award, OL Pat Boyle

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