Matt Brown has pushed through an ankle injury over the past month for Temple. The senior has rushed for 266 yards and two touchdowns on the season. In Saturday's loss at Louisville, he returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.
As Brown's career winds to a close, ESPN.com caught up with the 5-foot-5, 160-pound running back this week.
How are you feeling health-wise with the ankle?
Matt Brown: I'm feeling better than I was a couple weeks ago, but I'm just trying to get back to 100 percent. I'd say I'm about 75 percent, 80 percent. It's just a work in progress. It's not fully healed, but it's gotten a lot better from where I was a couple weeks ago.
Did it just start and come about this year, or is this a problem you had earlier in your career?
MB: Just happened. South Florida game (Oct. 6).
How has it limited in you the past couple of weeks?
MB: My cutting ability. My lateral movement. The best asset of any skill player most of the time is your feet -- changing direction, your quickness, all of that comes from your feet. And with the injury I have, it's hard to put pressure on and to make certain cuts and move as quick as I want to, so that's what has really been affecting me the most.
How were you able to return a kickoff for a touchdown on that last week?
MB: Just will. Determination. Just trying to make a play. Sometimes it's mind over matter, you know what I mean? You've got to try your best not to think about it or just to work through it. Just play through it. Sometimes make it look like you're not injured, you know what I mean? Even if you really are. I feel like I just willed it. Sometimes you've just got to will your way into things.
Has there been a give-and-take process there, where Coach [Steve] Addazio has maybe been telling you not to go so hard and you're resisting that?
MB: He checks me to make sure I'm OK. In practice they've got me taking limited reps, but at the same time they're still working me in there so I can get the feel of the plays and things like that. But he definitely has a limit on how much I go. Just taking care of me.
You shared the backfield last year with Bernard Pierce. This year you guys welcomed in Montel Harris before the season. How's that dynamic been? What's the relationship like there on and off the field?
MB: It's great. Before he got here I really didn't want him to come. I knew who he was through the internet and things like that, but not personally. I really wasn't happy. But now that he's here he's like my best friend. That's who I hang out with more than anybody -- on the field and off the field. That's my best friend up here. So I couldn't be more happy that he's here. We help push each other. We're both gamers, we both play hard, we both love the game. We've got the same kind of love for this game and we both respect that in each other. It's like a real friendship thing, and we definitely help each other and push each other. It's good. I'm glad that I got somebody like that in my position group now, because before he got here it was just me, I was the oldest. We learn off each other. We're not scared to say something to one another. We're not defensive about using that criticism, so I think it's good. It worked out for the best.
How did he approach it initially? Was he cautious of stepping on anybody's toes? How did he walk into a situation like that so late?
MB: He just worked his way in. He's just a cool dude, low-key, quiet, just humble. That kind of makes you gradually like someone. He just came in, he was humble, he played hard. We respect his game and he was just a cool dude.
You guys are running behind four new starting offensive linemen this season. What has been the biggest adjustment with that?
MB: We've got some young guys up front but now, we're coming along. Beginning of the season wasn't going so well, but now I feel like our O-line's coming along and they're really working hard, and I feel like we've got the right guys in the right position. We're moving forward now. We have a young O-line, our whole O-line graduated last year, all of our veterans. We're working with what we got right now. People are going to mess up and make mistakes but they're new, they're freshmen, they're young guys. It's going to build for years to come. They're going to be great junior and senior year, but right now they're doing a great job. We came a whole long way from where we did at the beginning of the season as far as the o-line.
Going through the grind of a Big East schedule as opposed to a MAC one, what have been some difference challenges you've faced this year?
MB: Great players every week. There's no blowout games or games that we know we're going to win. It's every game can be won and every game can be lost and every game's going to be tight. We're going to have to compete and we're going to have to overcome. Most times in the MAC we had games that we knew we were going to win, or we knew we could predict, 'Oh yeah, we're going to have this many wins.' But now, go harder. Just got to keep grinding, keep competing every week. It's going to come.
What's been the hardest part of coming back down to earth? You guys had the first two [Big East] wins, you surprised everybody. You've lost a couple in a row now. What's the learning process like?
MB: We're just trying to get back on track. We love the feeling of how it felt to win after those games and we're trying to get back on that path. We played some really good teams these past couple weeks, two of them were ranked, so we have a young team. I'm a senior, but we have a young team. We have like five or six seniors on our team. It's not an excuse, but at the same time we understand that, so we just have to work.
Have you ever met a guy with more energy or more intensity than Steve Addazio?
MB: Not at all. That's my man. He gets me hyped up. He gets you when you've got like a real burn. He's like a player just turned into a coach. Sometimes you think he's going to run out there and clock somebody. I just love the fire that he brings and you can see it. It's different when someone says it, but it's different when you can see it in someone. Everybody can see it in him because he's got like a burning desire, a passion. He wants to win. He wants to play hard. We love that, we feed off that. I think that's where the toughness in our team comes from.
Do you let yourself think about the NFL yet? Where is that in your mind right now?
MB: I try not to think about it as far as what's going to happen or to worry myself. I can't not think about it because football is my whole life. It's my passion in life. It's everything I love to do. It's my expression. It's how I get my anger out, everything. I can never stop thinking about the NFL, especially when older guys that graduated and I look at them and then I look at guys I played with. I try not to, in order to not overlook the rest of my college games or anything, or get in the wrong mindset or think too far ahead. But I just can't help it. That's my passion, what I want so bad. So even though I try not to, I think about it, because I know I've got to have a plan when I leave college, and that's what I want to do. That's what I really really really really really really want to do, because I can't see myself doing anything else for now. It's hard. I play the middle: I do think about it, but I try not to.