Temple Owls

Temple spring game: Potent, experienced run game a glimpse of Geoff Collins' plans?

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Temple spring game: Potent, experienced run game a glimpse of Geoff Collins' plans?

Let's be honest with ourselves -- it's early into the Geoff Collins era at Temple. Very early.
 
And Saturday's annual Cherry and White spring game was a big scoop of vanilla on a wet, dreary April Saturday afternoon, just over four months until the start of training camp and just over five months until the Sept. 2 season opener at Notre Dame.
 
But while Saturday was just the scantest of glimmers into what Collins and offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude have in store for the new-fangled Temple offense, it was still hard to deny what may have been a glimpse of the backbone of the Owls' offensive plans -- a power running game led by two experienced upperclassmen in Ryquell Armstead and Jager Gardner.
 
Both junior backs left their marks Saturday in White's 17-14 win over Cherry in a game that was straight-up offense (Cherry) vs. defense (White).
 
"We established the run today," Collins, who spent time as defensive coordinator at both Florida and Mississippi State before coming to Temple, said after the annual exhibition.
 
"The big thing for us offensively is that we want to be able to impose our will whenever we want to. And that means being physical, being tough and really getting after people. … But Rock (Armstead) and Jags (Gardner), those are guys who create their own holes.
 
"I thought Jager had a great day today. He looked like a PlayStation 4 character out there, juking and hurdling people. He was phenomenal."
 
The speedy Gardner, a 6-foot-2, 214-pound slasher, was the star Saturday with nine carries for 67 yards and a touchdown. On one of those carries, he completely hurdled a helpless linebacker in the middle of the field en route to a 23-yard gain. Gardner also made a tough back-shoulder grab down the sideline on a long pass play.
 
Armstead, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound lead horse of the Owls' running back core, didn't see as many touches and had just 10 yards on four carries. But considering the sloppy conditions and the Owls' need to keep him healthy, it's easy to see why he was limited.
 
But both in recent years have proven they can achieve success on the field, even with the success of Jahad Thomas, who racked up 2,599 yards and 38 touchdowns on the ground over the last two seasons before graduating.

Armstead rushed for 919 yards and a team-high 14 scores last season. As the third back last year, Gardner ran for just 111 yards and two scores. But he does hold the school record with a 94-yard TD scamper at SMU in 2015 and coaches will tell you all about the electric style he can bring. Now he has an opportunity to show it.
 
And the Owls will undoubtedly lean on both Armstead and Gardner even more this season offensively as they break in a new starting quarterback. Four-year starter Phillip Walker, who re-wrote the program record books with 10,669 passing yards and 74 TD passes, has also graduated.
 
Does that add more pressure onto the shoulders of Armstead and Gardner?
 
"I enjoy being an upperclassman and know I have to be a leader in the room," Armstead said. "I know the offense like the back of my hand. I've got to make sure my guys are up to par with the offense.
 
"I still believe we have to balance. We have to run the ball when we have to and we have to pass the ball when we have to. So just being balanced, going fast when we have to and slowing it down when we need to will help any quarterback that's in."
 
"I don't feel any added pressure," Gardner said. "I've been here since my freshman year. I didn't redshirt. So I feel that me and [Armstead] work off each other. We just build off each other. We're going to take it one day at a time and get better, each of us. So there's not going to be anything new for us.
 
"It's not going to get any harder or any easier. We're just going to change a little bit of the things up. Just have to get used to some stuff we haven't done before. It won't get any harder. We just have to focus on the stuff we have to do now."
 
As for that tricky quarterback situation …
 
Many pundits have pegged redshirt freshman Anthony Russo as the leader in the clubhouse. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Russo, an Archbishop Wood grad who originally committed to Rutgers before decomitting and then receiving heavy interest from Les Miles and LSU before inking with Temple in 2015, has all the physical tools of a pro-style quarterback.
 
He took the opening snap Saturday, and was efficient, albeit not spectacular, going 7 for 11 for 70 yards. Again, the ugly, rainy conditions likely played a hand there. His prettiest completion of the day came on the back-shoulder throw down the sideline to Gardner.
 
The QB who stuck out the most Saturday was true freshman Todd Centeio. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, native went 9 of 13 for 110 yards and lovely fade to the corner of the end zone to wideout Marshall Ellick for an 18-yard score. He hit Ellick for 43 yards down the sideline earlier in the day. More than that, his calmness was on display with smart checkdowns and scrambles.
 
After the game. Collins was predictably tight-lipped about the QB battle.
 
"That's a great question and I knew I was going to get that," Collins said when asked who would start at QB if the Notre Dame game were Sunday.
 
"They were all out there competing today. I think Todd Centeio did a good job out there. Russo was putting some nice balls out there, too. … There are plenty of reps to go around.
 
"It was clean, the optics were good today and we got to see the guys really spin it out there."
 
Collins has a few more months to see the quarterbacks spin it some more before the most important decision his infantile collegiate head coaching career is due.

Aaron Boumerhi misses 27-yard FG as Temple falls to Army in OT

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Aaron Boumerhi misses 27-yard FG as Temple falls to Army in OT

BOX SCORE

WEST POINT, N.Y. – Blake Wilson kicked a 29-yard field goal in the first overtime and Army held off mistake-prone Temple 31-28 on Saturday in a dramatic finish.

Temple had a chance to force another extra period, but Aaron Boumerhi missed left on a 27-yard field goal attempt, his second miss of the game, sending the Black Knights (6-2) into a gleeful frenzy as they remained unbeaten in five games at Michie Stadium and became bowl-eligible.

Army, which disdains the pass nearly all of the time and ranks last nationally, tied the game through the air with a 14-play, 79-yard drive in the final 91 seconds of regulation. Backup quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr., Army's top passer, completed five passes for 67 yards, hitting Jermaine Adams in the left corner of the end zone with a perfectly thrown 16-yard strike with one second left.

It was the last nonconference game of the year for Temple (3-5), which has lost four of five.

Ryquell Armstead rushed for 151 yards on 18 carries and scored twice in the fourth quarter for Temple. His 21 yard-run around the left side with 1:38 left seemed to doom the Black Knights.

Temple quarterback Logan Marchi, who had two straight 300-yard games, did not start. Owls officials said he was hurt in last week's game against UConn but was available to play. Redshirt junior Frank Nutile, the only other player on the roster with game experience, got the nod. His resume included six games and six completions, but he rose the occasion. Nutile finished 20 of 29 for 290 yards passing and one touchdown with zero turnovers.

The Temple defense held Army to 135 yards on 27 carries in the first half as the nation's second-leading rushing team found few openings and the Black Knights managed just 29 yards on 10 carries in two three-and-outs in the third. Army entered the game averaging 378.4 yards a game and finished with 248.

Darnell Woolfolk led the Black Knights with a career-high 132 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, the key to the ground game, gained just 49 yards on 13 carries.

The Owls broke a 14-all tie early in the fourth after a critical third-and-11 play. Tailback David Hood snared a screen pass with one hand in the right flat and raced 36 yards to set up Armstead's 43-yard run.

The Black Knights answered by finally breaking through on the ground. Woolfolk burst up the middle for a 44-yard touchdown with 5:03 left in the fourth.

The Owls have been plagued by mistakes, and another one cost them in the second quarter. Army linebacker Cole Christiansen blocked Alex Starzyk's punt and recovered it at the Temple 28. Bradshaw then hit Jeff Ejekam for 24 yards and Woolfolk scored on the next play from the 4 to give Army a 14-0 lead early in the second.

Nutile found some comfort in the pocket and completed a 17-yard pass to Keith Kirkwood on a third-and-8 play and Isaiah Wright scored on a 50-yard run out of a wildcat formation on the next play.

After forcing an Army punt, Nutile gained 13 and five yards on consecutive keepers and then hit Adonis Jennings for 37 yards over the middle for a touchdown to tie it at 14-all with 3:38 left in the half.

Army gained a 7-0 lead in the final minute of the opening quarter on Woolfolk's punishing 11-yard run. The big fullback broke three tackles on his way into the end zone.

The takeaway
Temple: The Owls might have a quarterback quandary. Although Marchi had two strong games throwing the ball, he's also thrown eight interceptions. Nutile entered the game 6 of 14 for 80 yards passing with one pick.

Army: The Black Knights have won two games without completing a pass, but Bradshaw went 2 for 2 for 42 yards in the first half and looked steady in a role that's rare in this triple option and Hopkins proved Army's passing game can be a factor going forward.

Kicking out of trouble
Army punter Nick Schrage had kicks of 65 and 52 yards after two three-and-outs in the third quarter to keep Temple at bay. The game remained tied when Boumerhi's 32-yard field goal attempt for the Owls hit the right upright.

Up next
Temple: The Owls have a bye before facing Navy in a night game on Thursday, Nov. 2.

Army: The Black Knights have a bye before traveling to play service academy rival Air Force on Nov. 4.

Fran Dunphy and Herb Magee to host an exhibition for charity

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Fran Dunphy and Herb Magee to host an exhibition for charity

Two legendary Philadelphia basketball coaches will square off for charity.

Temple’s Fran Dunphy and Jefferson’s (Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University) Herb Magee will have their teams face off at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

All ticket sales will be donated to One America Appeal to help those impacted by recent hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

“When the opportunity presented itself to play an exhibition game to raise money for the people suffering from the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, we knew right away that we needed to be a part of it,” Dunphy said in a statement. "I called my good friend, Herb Magee, one of the most respected men in the business, and he felt the same way. This gives our fans a rare opportunity to see our programs compete while also helping out those in need.”

“It is a tremendous opportunity for our team,” Magee said. “Coach Dunphy and I have been friends for a long time. We talked about playing one day and that time is now. We're looking forward to it, especially as we begin our new era as the Jefferson Rams. Being able to provide aid to those impacted by the recent natural disasters makes this game that much more special.”

Temple requested a waiver from the NCAA to play this exhibition for charity.

The Owls tip off their season against Old Dominion in the Charleston Classic on Nov. 16, while the Rams travel to Anaheim, California to open Concordia on Nov. 3.