Notre Dame football

Temple sees wheels fall off at Notre Dame in Geoff Collins' debut

Temple sees wheels fall off at Notre Dame in Geoff Collins' debut

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Logan Marchi took every snap at quarterback for Temple in Saturday’s 49-16 season-opening loss at Notre Dame and ended up one of the brighter spots on a dim day for the Owls, but even those two facts netted the redshirt sophomore no assurances for next week.

And he insists he’s OK with that.

“Yeah, guys compete every day for a spot,” Marchi said. “That’s football and you gotta (stay) ready.”

On an afternoon that was disastrous for the Owls on defense and spotty on offense, Marchi was relatively steady, completing 19 of 35 passes for 245 yards with two touchdowns (see observations). He had attempted just four passes in his collegiate career heading into the day.

“You guys are going to get tired of me saying it, but every single thing we do is evaluated on a week-to-week basis,” first-year Temple coach Geoff Collins said of whether Marchi earned another start in next Saturday’s home opener against Villanova.

“How you practice, how you prepare, how you perform in all your reps throughout the week (go into the decision).”

Temple suffered its most lopsided defeat since a 45-3 loss at Penn State in 2008.

The Owls’ defense was shredded to the tune of 606 yards, or 8.2 per play. The Irish, coming off a 4-8 season, had three players each rush for over 100 yards (including Josh Adams at 161 on 19 carries with two touchdowns), while redshirt sophomore quarterback Brandon Wimbush added another 184 yards and two TDs through the air in his first action since 2015.

On the other side, the Temple offense was far from faultless. It was limited to 330 yards, allowed Marchi to be sacked three times, committed multiple key penalties and coughed up a turnover, but still outshone the team’s defense.

“I think I played all right,” said Marchi, who did badly misfire toward open receivers a few times. “I missed a couple routine throws. … I think we gotta execute a little more on offense and help the defense out, stay on the field, give the defense some rest.”

“Logan was playing good, so we didn’t really talk about it,” Collins said of why he never made a change at QB despite a large deficit and having declared four QBs ready to play.

“He had us under control. He was composed. I thought he was changing the rhythm, the cadence, trying to keep (the defense) off balance. I was happy with that.”

Marchi compiled his numbers despite injured star receiver Ventell Bryant missing the game. Collins said that up until Friday, the Owls were holding out hope the junior might be ready.

“Ventell’s a great player, so any time he’s not on the field, it’s a lost opportunity for him, but I thought the other guys stepped up,” Marchi said. “We have a great receiving corps, got great depth at receiver.”

Sophomore do-it-all wideout Isaiah Wright gathered four catches for 79 yards to lead Temple, while senior receiver Keith Kirkwood had four for 60 and a touchdown.

“It was rewarding, exciting to finally hear the news (after) a long battle,” Marchi said of getting the starting nod over junior Frank Nutile, redshirt freshman Anthony Russo and true freshman Todd Centeio, “but those guys also did a great job and they’re ready to play. We’re all ready to play.”

Collins, meanwhile, thinks his defense is more ready than it showed Saturday.

“The beginning was bad and the wheels fell off at the end,” said Collins, who became recognized as a defensive guru during his more than two decades as a college assistant. “But the in-between was pretty good.”

Collins attributed Saturday’s porous defensive showing to a combination that included Notre Dame’s offensive weaponry, ND’s offensive line and his team’s poor angles, among other things.

“I didn’t think we tackled the way we have all preseason,” Collins said, “but we’ll get it corrected.”

Temple-Notre Dame observations: Owls hammered by Irish in Geoff Collins' debut

Temple-Notre Dame observations: Owls hammered by Irish in Geoff Collins' debut

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Geoff Collins' only previous trip to Notre Dame Stadium was 14 years ago, when the hallowed field served as the finish line for a marathon he was competing in.

Saturday's return visit may have felt even more exhausting for the new Temple head coach, as the Fighting Irish overwhelmed the Owls, 49-16, in Collins' debut.

The Irish stormed to a 28-3 lead by early in the second quarter and were never seriously threatened.

Notre Dame piled up 606 yards — 422 of it coming on the ground — to the Owls' 330 overall. Junior running back Josh Adams had 130 yards on 11 carries by the intermission, and three Irish runners wound up with over 100 yards apiece.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi got the start for Temple. Marchi was among four contenders for the job. He finished 19 of 35 through the air with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

• Penalties proved costly for the Owls during the first half. A broken-up third-down pass by Temple was wasted due to a roughing-the-quarterback call that gave Notre Dame a 1st-and-goal that translated into its 28-3 lead. Earlier, an Owls drive was stalled by a false start and then a 15-yard personal foul call on Temple helped keep alive an Irish drive that resulted in the touchdown that made the count, 14-0. The Owls, who were yellow-flagged five times before the break, will need to clean up those kinds of unforced errors quickly to beat better teams.

• While a couple Temple sophomores made bold declarations during the week leading up to the game, Notre Dame waited until all of a couple plays into the contest to begin to issue a response. Equanimeous St. Brown hauled in a 33-yard pass on ND’s first snap from scrimmage and Adams followed with a 37-yard touchdown run to put the Irish up for good a mere 33 seconds into the game. Owls cornerback Kareem Ali had said during the week that “we’re going to kick their ass,” while linebacker Shaun Bradley also predicted a blowout. Going forward, Temple might be better served by not generating obvious opposition bulletin-board material, especially if sophomores are going to be the ones generating it.

• Temple welcomes Villanova to Lincoln Financial Field next Saturday in the first renewal of the Mayor’s Cup in five years. A victory by the Owls would exactly square the series at 16-16-2. Temple’s won the last three meetings, the most recent, 41-10, in 2012 at Lincoln Financial Field. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.

Despite change and new look, Temple now built for Notre Dame-type challenge in opener

Despite change and new look, Temple now built for Notre Dame-type challenge in opener

Geoff Collins stood behind the podium Tuesday, cloaked in Temple University getup with a white ballcap on, knowing what everyone wants to know four days out of the season opener. He sees the headlines. He’s aware of the tweets. He’s appreciative of it all.

He didn’t budge. He didn’t say a word. But reading his body language, the smile on his face, that of an affirming smirk, he knows who his starting quarterback will be Saturday in South Bend, Indiana, when the Owls kick off their 2017 campaign against Notre Dame.

When pressed about the topic again later in his first weekly press conference as a head coach, this time whether the quarterback knows, Collins went silent, smiled and paused.

Then, as he moved on to the next question, he leaned back and …

“Yes,” he said abruptly.

Temple released Monday its first “above the line” depth chart, and it featured all four quarterbacks — Todd Centeio, Logan Marchi, Frank Nutile and Anthony Russo — “ATL.” It’s believed the four-horse QB competition is down to Nutile, a redshirt junior, and Marchi, a redshirt sophomore, though it’s possible three could see action against ND.

Collins told The Temple News last week three quarterbacks could play against the Fighting Irish, and on Tuesday, he reiterated the rotation will be situational. Having four capable quarterbacks, Collins said, is a “very big challenge” for defensive coordinators.

Neither Marchi nor Nutile said they’re discouraged or surprised by the situation, and all four have pushed each other throughout the summer and camp. While Collins tipped his hand that the quarterbacks know who will start Saturday, Marchi said they haven’t been told.

"We got a good group of guys around us," Marchi said. "The decision was on the coaches and we just go out and do what we do as players. We got a good group of guys around us. No matter what quarterback goes in, there's going to be a good group."

There is more to Saturday’s season opener at Notre Dame than who will be the starting quarterback, or how many quarterbacks will be deployed against the Fighting Irish.

It will be the first game since 2012 that doesn’t feature Matt Rhule walking the Temple sidelines, and, ironically, Collins’ debut comes in the same stadium Rhule made his.

The first-year head coach’s résumé consists of defensive coaching positions. He comes from the University of Florida, where he served as the Gators’ defensive coordinator.

As a defensive coach in the past, Collins didn’t get a chance to build relationships with offensive players, which was something he said Tuesday was one of his favorite parts of his current post. He’s spread out more, forming connections with all of his players.

“I’ve had surface relationships that were really good at other places with offensive players,” he said, “but now, having meaningful relationships with those guys has been a really cool experience. Just being able to interact with them a bit has been a blast.”

There was once a time in Temple football, not too long ago, when a season opener against Notre Dame in South Bend would be an intimidating task. Too big for the program, too daunting to even consider the Owls having a fighting chance to win.

Al Golden began the culture change, and Rhule put Temple on the map. Notre Dame is coming off an eight-loss season, and its head coach, Brian Kelly, enters 2017 on the hot seat. The Irish, too, have a new starting quarterback after DeShone Kizer left for the NFL.

Brandon Wimbush will be under center for Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon, while the Irish have a new offensive coordinator (Chip Long), defensive coordinator (Mike Elko) and specials teams coordinator (Brian Polian). There are a lot of unknowns with ND.

Yet, Notre Dame enters as a 17.5-point favorite over TU. A lot of that has to do with the Irish being a power program with premium talent and the Owls having many questions themselves with a new coach, quarterback and having to replace stars on both sides.

“We know we have nothing to lose,” cornerback Kareem Ali said of Temple’s mentality. “We’re going to go hard, we’re going to kick their ass. We’re ready for it. There’s no pressure. We’ve been in this situation before. We’re going to do what we do.”

This will be the third-ever meeting between the two programs. Notre Dame has won the previous two matchups, but the last time these two schools met, it was on national TV.

The then-No. 9 Irish squeaked out a 24-20 win over the No. 21 Owls on Oct. 31, 2015, in perhaps the biggest game in Temple football history — at least of the last three decades.

“I still distinctly remember watching,” Collins said. “But the team’s different. A lot of the guys who played in that game aren’t here. Probably very few who played are here. It’s a new group, but I’m excited about the guys we have. It’s going to be a new challenge.”

Temple has an infusion of young talent jumping into bigger roles on defense. It has a new linebacking group, a couple new starters in the secondary. Offensively, the QB situation is still fluid. Ryquell Armstead takes over as the lead back after Jahad Thomas graduated. The wide receiver corps is a strength led by upperclassmen.

Still, the Owls are a confident bunch. Sophomore linebacker Shaun Bradley said the players treat “every opponent the same.” Senior D-lineman Jacob Martin said Saturday is “nothing that we can’t handle, nothing that we haven’t seen at Temple University.”

“We don't back down from anybody or any situation or any challenge,” Collins said. “That’s a testament to what the players have done here for the last 10 years.

“Establishing that culture of physicality and toughness. Anybody, anywhere, anytime.”