The offseason is coming to a close for head coach Matt Rhule and his Temple Owls. Grueling Philadelphia heat along with countless reps and preparation have tested the Cherry and White cladded warriors. For senior Tyler Matakevich, he's determined to make his final offseason worthwhile and effective to continue his dominance for the Owls.
The native of Stratford, Conn. is the third player in Owls history to record 100 tackles in three consecutive seasons per owlsports.com. With 355 total tackles, Matakevich is the nation's leader in the respective category. He was named to the Bednarik and Nagursky watch lists and is a Rotary Lombardi candidate for the 2015 season.
The 6'1", 232-pound Matakevich was also the Big East's Rookie of the Year in 2012. When asked if he ever pictured the possible accolades and publicity playing for Temple, he initially had no idea:
"Nah (laughing): I just tell everybody I just go out with the same mindset, same attitude every single day and try to get better. Each day, whatever I can do. If it's one thing, whatever I can do to improve my game, which in reality will improve the team, that's what I do."
The humbleness exuded by Matakevich paints a picture of a competitor who possesses a team mindset at a position vital to display those aforementioned qualities. He's also a film junkie playing for his second defensive coordinator in Phil Snow who revolutionized the Owls defense last season:
"It's just a big adjustment coming from coach (Chuck) Heater's defense to coach Snow's. There's so many details and coach knows defense that you need to learn and going into my third year with coach Snow as my D-Coordinator, I'm still learning. Every time I come up to a meeting, I'm taking notes because there's something new every day that I'm learning. When you can truly understand a defense, it will make you that much of a player, which will make that much of a better team."
Matakevich switched numbers from No. 32 his freshman year, to No. 8 his sophomore year as Temple gives single digit numbers to the toughest players on both sides of the ball. Matakevich is a chiseled and seasoned vet on the defensive unit having played in 35 consecutive games and will be leading one of the nation's rising groups.
He quickly became a familiar face in the starting lineup his freshman season and will now leave Temple University after this season with some larger lessons learned:
"Football, especially here at Temple University, has just taught me how much preparation you need to be successful. We spend so many hours and extra hours, whether the coaches are with us or not, just studying the game and studying the film and that's really taught me so much about life. Life's not easy, it's hard. Especially to win a college football game, that's the hardest thing ever. It just takes time and preparation."
Matakevich and the rest of the Owls have spent the summer preparing for the upcoming season, but have a primary focus in mind. Temple hosts keystone state rival Penn State in their season opener Sep. 5 and will try to correct mistakes made in last year's 30-13 defeat at Happy Valley. The senior leader knows the importance of winning a crucial battle to achieve his goal of getting the Owls back to a bowl game and winning the AAC Championship:
"This is another opportunity for us to start off the season right. We have a great opportunity in front of us. Penn State's coming to us opening it up, but it's really all eyes on us. It's always been on us."
The heralded Owl reiterated the importance of maintaining focus on a group with, what he calls, "20-something" seniors and getting the message across to the youth. It personifies a senior leader looking for everyone to be symbiotic in their quest for the postseason.
This is Matakevich's last chance to achieve his goals donning a Temple uniform. Team success and unification are a priority for him. Accolades and publicity just attach to a team leader whose focus is clear and honorable.