Temple Owls

Temple, still without QB, gets set 'live' 2 weeks before Notre Dame

Temple, still without QB, gets set 'live' 2 weeks before Notre Dame

As far as Temple head coach Geoff Collins was concerned, Saturday was game day for he and his Owls.

They stayed at a hotel Friday night. They woke up Saturday morning and had a team breakfast. They went through team walkthroughs and drills before gearing up and stepping on to the turf. They went “live” with everything they did.

But the reality is that Saturday was only the Owls’ final intrasquad scrimmage before the end of camp and that the season opener at Notre Dame is still exactly two weeks away.

“It was just so that when we get ready to play a game, we’ve already done all of it,” Collins, Temple’s first-year leader, said after the scrimmage at historic and toasty Franklin Field. “And the young guys who’ve never made a trip for us, they were there. They got to go through the whole process, so it was an unbelievable day.”

But the reality also is that Temple still doesn’t have a starting quarterback just two weeks ahead of traveling to South Bend.

Three weeks of camp and an offseason of preparation have settled nothing in the four-pronged race for the starter’s crown. Redshirt junior Frank Nutile, redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, redshirt freshman Anthony Russo and true freshman Todd Centeio again all split reps up and down the depth chart Saturday.

Collins just knew reporters couldn’t wait to ask the question.

“The big thing the last couple weeks is that every day one of the guys who’s pulled apart and then someone else has pulled apart,” Collins said of his team’s ongoing quarterback battle. “It’s going to be exciting watching the tape of this scrimmage because last scrimmage, it felt like there was a little separation with two guys. Today, I think it might have been a little bit more.”

So rather than waiting for reporters to ask the next logical question, Collins just went ahead unprompted and answered it for everyone with a recorder or phone or microphone or camera in sight.

“Hopefully by the end of this week, we’ll have some guys who we can say are above the line.”

“Above the line” is Collins-speak for the first team, second team and so on and so forth. He doesn’t believe in actual depth charts or the philosophies behind them.

And that “some guys” comment is interesting. With four players in fierce competition with one another and apparently not separating themselves enough, could a multi-QB system actually be realistic?

The QBs have different builds and styles. Nutile and Russo each check in at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and are certainly more pro-style, pocket passers. They can scamper if need be, but standing tall in the pocket and seeing the whole field is how they excel. Marchi and Centeio each check in at 6-foot. Centeio weighs in at 201 pounds while Marchi weighs in at 192 pounds. Both guys are known for their ability to scramble and create havoc when the pocket breaks down.

“I believe in the guys who are ready to play at a high level for a top-25 championship program,” Collins said.

The fact of the matter is that whoever grabs the brass starter’s ring(s) will be thrown into the nationally televised fire with bundles of inexperience or no experience at all.

Russo and Centeio have never even suited up for a college game. Nutile and Marchi have combined to go 5 for 9 for 69 yards and a touchdown since 2015. Of course, having prolific program record-breaker Phillip Walker ahead of them played a pretty big role in that.

But still, big shoes need to be filled on a big stage. And all that inexperience will have to evaporate quickly for the Owls to have a chance not only on Sept. 2 in South Bend but also moving forward.

And the Owls who’ve played with and against all four QBs every day this summer are confident that whoever has the ball in his hands can lead the way.

“Every quarterback is different,” said senior Adonis Jennings, who, along with senior Keith Kirkwood and junior Ventell Bryant make up a deep and talented wideout corps the QB(s) will be throwing to.

“So whatever style or type of offense we’re going to run, whoever fits that best is going to be the quarterback. I like all four of them and we’ll see what happens.”

“It’s good, honestly, because we’ve got guys who can run and we’ve got guys who can pocket pass and things like that,” senior safety Sean Chandler said of the QBs he goes up against every day in practice. “I feel like they’re all very precise and they make good decisions. Those are things that we need.”

Jennings admitted, though, there is work to do when it comes to preparing with four different quarterbacks.

“You just have to adjust to each quarterback’s playing style,” he said. “You have to build a connection with all four of them just to get things right with them so that they can know the offense and get connected with the receivers, the tight ends, the linemen, the running backs and the whole offense in general.”

Only two more weeks to adjust.
Special teams update
Temple also has a less-heralded battle going on at kicker between senior Austin Jones and sophomore Aaron Boumehri.

Jones started 2016 as the Owls’ kicker and went 10 for 12 before tearing his left ACL in a loss at Memphis on Oct. 6. Boumehri, a former walk-on, took over and impressed with a booming leg that connected on 15 of 17 attempts.

Now with Jones back healthy, the two are locked in a heated competition for kicking duties.

Collins noted both have excelled during camp and even said that strength coaches told him Jones’ leg is stronger now than it was before the injury.

Just like with the QB decision, two weeks left to make a final call.

Temple put back on its heels in AAC tourney ouster

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Temple put back on its heels in AAC tourney ouster


ORLANDO, Fla. -- No. 11 Wichita State has advanced to the semifinals of American Athletic Conference tournament.


Landry Shamet scored 24 points, Rashard Kelly had 16 and the Shockers held off pesky Temple for an 89-81 victory on Friday night.

Wichita State (25-6) also got a strong performance from its reserves, including 13 points from Austin Reaves. Next up is the winner of the Houston-Central Florida game.

The Shockers won two of three against the Owls this season, and the outcome was in doubt every time.

"We certainly do bring out the best in them," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "The bottom line is that they make a lot of shots against us, but we usually do get great contributions from our bench. We go 10 or 11 deep and that's a good thing."

Wichita State led 78-75 with 2:23 left and closed it out with 11 foul shots.

Temple stayed close with its perimeter shooting. The Owls went 11 of 24 from 3-pointg range and shot 50.9 percent from the field overall.

Quinton Rose led Temple (17-15) with 25 points. Shizz Alston and Josh Brown each had 15 points for the Owls, who didn't have enough depth to keep pace with Wichita State in the final minutes.

"I loved our fight, I loved how we were hanging with them each and every moment," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "I think late we just needed another basket, another stop, but they're a really good basketball team. They made some veteran plays at the right time."

The Shockers were clinging to a 63-61 lead with eight minutes to play when Reaves, fellow reserve Markis McDuffie and Kelly powered a key 13-3 run. The three combined for 11 points in the surge and helped cool off Rose while leading Wichita State to a 76-64 advantage with just over four minutes remaining.

Shaquille Morris made two foul shots to put the Shockers up 55-45 early in the second half, but the Owls rallied behind Rose. The sophomore guard scored 12 of his team's next 14 points to cut the deficit to 61-59 with 9:10 left.

"Quinton did a great job in that stretch and got us where we needed to be," Dunphy said. "But again, we needed a little better effort at the defensive end and just be a little smarter."

Big picture
Temple: The Owls had some nice early season wins -- Wisconsin, Clemson, Auburn, South Carolina -- but need to take the next step in the conference season. The Owls were only 8-10 in AAC play.

Wichita State: The Shockers are aching for a rematch with top-seeded Cincinnati, but first they'll have to get past the winner of the Houston-UCF game and they've struggled with both. Houston handed Wichita State its worst loss of the season, and UCF took the Shockers to overtime before losing in the second-to-last game of the regular season. Wichita State will need another good night from its reserves to reach the finals.

Temple narrowly avoids disaster

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Temple narrowly avoids disaster


ORLANDO, Fla. -- Shizz Alston Jr. hit three free throws in the final minute and Temple avoided being upset by a lower seed in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament for the second year in a row, holding off Tulane 82-77 Thursday night.

Temple, the No. 7 seed, advances to face second-seeded Wichita State on Friday in the tourney quarterfinals.

Last year the eighth-seeded Owls were upset by No. 9 seed ECU.

Nate Pierre-Louis made a free throw with 1:01 left to give Temple a 77-71 lead, but the 10th-seeded Green Wave roared back behind two Cameron Reynolds 3-pointers sandwiched around an Alston free throw to make it 78-77 with :37 remaining. Alston was fouled with :16 left and hit both free throws to make it 80-77, and Caleb Daniels missed a 3 with :05 left that would have tied the game. Josh Brown added two free throws with a second left to set the final score.

Obi Enechionyia led the Owls (17-14) with 19 points. Alston added 17 points and dished eight assists and Brown added 15 points, six boards, three assists and two steals.

Reynolds hit 3 of 7 from distance and paced Tulane (14-17) with 22 points. Melvin Frazier added 15 points and Samir Sehic and Ray Ona Embo added 11 and 10 points, respectively.