Temple Owls

Temple's QB decision takes spotlight as Geoff Collins' 1st camp kicks off

Temple's QB decision takes spotlight as Geoff Collins' 1st camp kicks off

The last time Temple head coach Geoff Collins stepped foot in South Bend, Indiana, he was literally a man on the run about 10 years ago.

“You probably won’t believe this when I tell you,” Collins quipped jovially. “I trained to run a marathon. It was back when the College Football Hall of Fame was still in South Bend. The starting line was at the College Football Hall of Fame and, 26.2 miles later, on the 50-yard line at Notre Dame Stadium was the finish.”

In just over four weeks, Collins will return to Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since.

But when the coin is flipped into the late summer afternoon air right at the very same 50-yard line on Sept. 2, it won’t be the end of anything.

In fact, it will be quite the opposite. Because once that coin is flipped in front of a national audience, the marathon that is Collins’ head coaching career will hit the ground running.

But before Collins, the former University of Florida defensive coordinator who was hired to be the head man at Temple this past December after Matt Rhule took the head gig at Baylor, and his Owls battle the Fighting Irish in the season opener, there is still work to be done as training camp officially kicked off with Monday’s annual media day.

And Collins is doing that work his own unique way to help mold these Owls and the program itself in his vision.

And that includes the ever-present starting quarterback decision that is looming overhead as Temple prepares to replace four-year starter Phillip Walker, an undrafted free agent in camp with the Indianapolis Colts who holds the program records for passing yards (10,668) and passing touchdowns (74).

Redshirt junior Frank Nutile, redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, redshirt freshman Anthony Russo and true freshman Todd Centeio are all racing during camp to earn the right to fill Walker’s cherry and white cleats.

Those four have combined in their college careers for five completions on 11 attempts, 69 yards and a single touchdown toss.

No pressure, right, guys?

How’s that going to sort out as camp begins? Good question, and Collins, per usual, had his own unique solution.

“One of the questions I preloaded is who is going to take the first snap [at Tuesday’s first camp practice]?” Collins said. “So, tomorrow, there will be four snaps that happen at the same time. At our practices, there are all kinds of drills going on at once.

“When we have the first snap, there will be four drills and the balls will be snapped by four different guys at the same time.”

Needless to say, this is the most pressing question Collins must find an answer for in the coming weeks. After all, it is the most important position on the field.

Russo, the 6-foot-4, Archbishop Wood product who was committed to Rutgers before decomitting and then rebuffing overtures from LSU before signing with the Owls in 2015, has all the physical tools of the prototypical pro-style quarterback and could be the favorite at this moment in time just for that last fact alone.

But the competition is more than wide open and live practice and scrimmage action will be the ultimate litmus tests.

And the name to keep an eye on isn’t that of the more game- and practice-seasoned Nutile or Marchi. Instead, it’s that of the true frosh Centeio.

The Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, native burst onto the scene with an impressive, poised performance during April’s spring game. Your eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to him on the Chodoff Field turf that day with precision passes, heady check-downs and smart, efficient scrambles out of the pocket.

As you may have guessed, the coaching staff saw all of that in Centeio that day, and even more since.

“When you start evaluating quarterbacks and start talking about personalities, you say is he a kid that gets it? Does he have ‘it’? And [Centeio] does,” new Temple offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude, nee of Coastal Carolina, said.

“He’s got a little bit of swagger to him. He’s got confidence in his ability. He’s a good athlete. He’s very bright and did very well in the classroom. … But he gives us a dynamic that maybe some of the other guys don’t — when the play breaks down, he can make plays with his feet. He’s a very willing runner.”

Patenaude said his hope is to have a decision on a lead horse down two weeks before the flight to South Bend. In the meantime, he has plenty he wants to see out of all four guys.

“A big piece of it is the stage isn’t going to be too big for them when they go to Notre Dame,” he said. “A big part of it is how they can handle the offense, what their demeanor is, how they can run the offense, get us in and out of checks, be able to handle themselves, not get too caught into the emotion of it.”

The other side of the equation here is made up of the guys who will be catching the passes thrown by whomever gets crowned the starter.

Guys such as Keith Kirkwood, Ventell Bryant and Adonis Jennings had been working with and catching passes thrown by Walker for the better part of two or three years. The chemistry was there in the blink of an eye. The intricacies of how each player works were there in a snap of a finger or, literally, in the flick of a wrist.

Not so much anymore as the wideouts will be tasked with getting on the same page with the new starter. That’s much easier said than done. And that’s why all these upcoming camp reps with all four QBs are so important.

“We have four quarterbacks, each and every one has a unique position and unique talent,” Kirkwood said. “Whoever plays on this field, every single player I feel has something to bring to this team and have a productive year.”

But still, that noise you hear overhead of 10th and Diamond Streets?

It isn’t the SEPTA train rolling by every so often above.

It’s the hands of the quarterback decision clock ticking.

Tick, tock.

Fran Dunphy and Herb Magee to host an exhibition for charity

uspresswire-temple-fran-dunphy.jpg
US Presswire

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.

Temple abandons identity against UConn, now searching for how to become bowl eligible

Temple abandons identity against UConn, now searching for how to become bowl eligible

BOX SCORE

This was personal for Logan Marchi.

After all, Temple’s starting quarterback wouldn’t even be sporting cherry and white Saturday afternoons if his original plan went as scheduled.

Marchi, a Bristol, Connecticut, native, was set to attend UConn after high school. That is, until his scholarship offer was pulled by the Huskies shortly before national signing day.

Temple ultimately came back around and reoffered to Marchi, who signed on the spot.

All of that added a little spice to Saturday’s matchup between Temple and Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field. Certainly, Marchi would want to put on a show. He just didn’t realize it would be a personal show.

Marchi dropped back for a career-high 54 pass attempts as Temple’s lopsided offense couldn’t help pull off a comeback in a 28-24 homecoming loss to UConn (see observations).

“I think any time you go into any game you want to try and be as balanced as you possibly can,” Temple offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said. “They did a good job early on in the first half of blitzing us and being aggressive in the run game. They also came in with a fairly porous pass defense, so we knew going in we felt like we would be able to throw it.”

Oh, they threw it all right. The Owls (3-4, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) threw when they were ahead early. They went to the air when things were tight during the middle of the game. And they tossed the ball around, even more, when they were trailing late.

It made for a nice day in the stat books for Marchi (career-best 356 yards, one touchdown and one interception). But, more importantly, it threw Temple’s offense out of whack as the team attempted 55 total passes (one spike to stop the clock not charged to Marchi) compared to 29 runs in the program’s first homecoming defeat since 2008.

“I would never imagine wanting to throw it 55 times,” Patenaude said. “We’re not like a Texas Tech type of group that wants to do that over and over again. You always want to be more balanced.”

Patenaude is exactly right. No one will ever mistake Temple’s offense for the Air Raid attack used by the Red Raiders. And that’s a good thing. TU has moved its way up the college football ranks the old-fashioned way: dominating the run game and playing stingy defense.

That commitment to the run is what allowed Bernard Pierce, Montel Harris and Jahad Thomas to all eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark in recent Temple history.

Despite being banged up, Ryquell Armstead, David Hood and the rest of the team’s running backs are waiting for their chance to be able to join that list. They showed flashes against the Huskies as the rushing attack went over the century mark for a third straight game (117 yards) and produced just the second and third scores on the ground from tailbacks this season.

But that quest to have a run-first mentality wasn’t going to get started on this Saturday. The Owls were focused on putting on an aerial show right from the start vs. UConn (2-4, 1-3 AAC), which worked for a while against the AAC’s worst pass defense.

Marchi was on target early. He connected with his receivers downfield when those opportunities presented themselves. However, with the Huskies playing deep coverage, a lot of Marchi’s work came underneath. He found his backs time and again for checkdowns (Hood finished with a team-high eight catches for 91 yards).

That was fine until the Owls’ defense stumbled a bit and the team began trying to play catch-up. Then the wideouts endured a case of the drops and the redshirt sophomore QB threw a critical pick-six near the end of the third quarter to put Temple back down by 14 points.

“We’ve got to execute. We didn’t execute out there today,” Marchi said. “We’ve got to catch passes. We’ve got to make the throws that are there and move the ball better. I thought we did that well coming out in the second half, moving down the field. We’ve just got to make the plays that are there.”

“I thought Logan had some nice balls. We’ve challenged them for the last couple weeks. We’ve got to make those catches,” Temple head coach Geoff Collins said of the dropped passes. “I thought vs. ECU, we were making those catches. We were making the hard catches and we were making the routine catches. There were sometimes out there today, even some of the routine catches, we weren’t pulling down. We’ve got to make sure we do that. 

“It’s been a point of emphasis and we’ll just keep stressing it because in games like this every single time that you drop a pass or there’s an incompletion on a makeable catch, that sets you back. It hurts the momentum, it hurts the tempo. When we were clicking, we were hitting on all cylinders. We were moving the ball up and down the field. Then one drop or one missed target is going to not be good for us.”

True, Temple’s offense was clicking on all cylinders most of the day against UConn. TU won a majority of the battles on the stat sheet, particularly in total yardage (473-244).

Still, the Owls were the ones that walked away back under the .500 mark and searching for answers to how they can make it to bowl eligibility.

“There are obviously some hurt kids in there,” Collins said of the mood in the locker room.

Temple is better off when it's the one hurting opponents on the field, primarily on the ground.