Tuesday practice notes

Matt Vender, Recruiting Analyst
Owl Scoop

While Temple coach Geoff Collins and his team move on from Saturday’s 20-13 loss to Houston at Lincoln Financial Field, the talk of the officiating continued Tuesday at Edberg-Olson Hall.

Collins said on the American Athletic Conference’s coaches call that Temple usually sends four of five questionable calls to the conference office for further interpretation. That number tripled this week.

The first question that Collins faced during his weekly Tuesday press conference was about the officiating.

What did Temple hear from The American?

“I don’t know what I can share about it,” Collins said. “But there were a bunch of calls that we sent in.”

Collins, likely trying to avoid any potential fine or repercussions, was careful with his word choice. He did say the AAC confirmed that starting middle linebacker Shaun Bradley should not have been ejected for targeting in the first quarter.

“They said that (Shaun) shouldn’t have been tossed,” Collins said.

There was also a questionable hit on redshirt senior defensive tackle Jullian Taylor, who was hit on his blind side by Houston offensive lineman Na’Ty Rodgers. Taylor was hit in the head area during the fourth quarter. The South Jersey product from Williamstown High School practiced Tuesday and did not suffer an injury on the play.

Graduate transfer defensive back Mike Jones still believes that he had a clean interception of Kyle Postma in the first quarter, as Jones said after the game. Jones was called for pass interference. Houston scored a touchdown – its first score of the day – on the ensuing play.

“Not really,” Jones said when asked if he committed pass interference. “We both went up for the ball and I came up with it at the end, but I’m past it and ready for ECU this week.”

Redshirt senior Keith Kirkwood said he knows that he came up with a 30-yard reception early in the second quarter. The catch was overturned in what seemed like a questionable decision. Logan Marchi threw an interception on the next play.

“I knew I was in bounds when it happened,” Kirkwood said. “But the referees make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Just have to put the past in the past.”

Regardless of the officiating, Collins acknowledged that Temple needs to play better. After all, the Owls sit at 2-3 overall and 0-2 in AAC play.

“It’s a little tough to swallow but we’ve got to play better,” Collins said.

Kirkwood dealing with injury

When asked about the lack of production over the last two games from both redshirt junior Ventell Bryant and Kirkwood during a conference call Monday, Collins revealed that the Hawaii transfer has been dealing with an injury for the past two weeks.

Kirkwood, who has just one reception for 15 yards over the last two games, downplayed the injury when speaking Tuesday.

“Just a little, small, nagging injury,” Kirkwood said. “It’s nothing that’s going to hold me back from being out there and dominating everything I have to do for my team and putting it all on the line.”

When asked about the specifics of the injury, Kirkwood declined to comment further.

Kirkwood, who has tallied 13 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns through five games, does not believe that his injury has impacted his play.

“It’s just being in the right spot for the right play at the right time,” Kirkwood said. “It’s not specifically meant for one dominant receiver. I’m not worried about stats. I’m just worried about the now.”

Jones awarded No. 1

For the first time this season, a cornerback will wear Tavon Young’s former No. 1.

Jones, a graduate transfer from North Carolina Central, will wear No. 1 this week against East Carolina.

“It’s an honor,” Jones said. “I think I’ve been putting in work since the spring and I’ve seen a tremendous improvement in myself. It was just an honor to get the number.”

Collins said Jones was forced to leave the Houston game to get stitches in his lip. He returned after a short absence.

Jones, who has racked up 20 total tackles, two tackles for a loss and one interception through five games, said he expected to earn the No. 1 earlier in the season.

Webb “above the line,” others removed from chart

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Greg Webb was added to Temple’s “above the line” depth chart Monday afternoon. He was the only addition.

Webb, a former four-star recruit, enrolled at North Carolina after finishing his high school career at South Jersey powerhouse Timber Creek. He only stayed in Chapel Hill for a semester due to academic issues and landed at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, where he played for three seasons.

The Owls signed Webb twice – on both National Signing Day 2015 and 2016 – because he was unable to qualify academically in 2015. He ended up inking as the last man in the 2016 recruiting class.

“You’re going to see him playing on Saturday a great deal for us because of what he has done in practice and the attitude he’s had in the locker room,” Collins said.

Meanwhile, Collins removed multiple players from the list. Placekicker Austin Jones, linebacker Jeremiah Atoki, running back Jager Gardner, defensive back Cequan Jefferson and offensive lineman Jovahn Fair were all taken off the list.

Collins said that Gardner, Jones and Jefferson will likely be out long term. He hopes that Atoki and Fair, the starter left guard in Temple’s first three games, will return soon.

Gardner, a junior, is reportedly out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

Despite reports that Jones will be out for the rest of the season due to soreness from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last October in a loss at Memphis, the senior kicker was not willing to rule himself out.

“My body is not quite there yet,” Jones said. “I know that and the trainers know that.”

Jones was in uniform for Tuesday’s practice but did not participate in drills.

He was not ready to commit to taking a medical redshirt year this season.

“I’m not even focused on that right now,” Jones said. “I’m just trying to get back to 100 percent.”

In Jones’ absence, sophomore Aaron Boumerhi will take over as the lone placekicker. He had been handling long distance field goals and kickoff duties while Jones was healthy enough to play.

The Owls are down to just two scholarship running backs in junior Ryquell Armstead and redshirt junior David Hood, Collins said. Walk-on Travon Williams was moved on the chart from receiver to running back.

Extra points

--Redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Russo, a former Rutgers commit, was named Offensive Scout Team Player of The Week.

“I thought he was really poised,” Collins said of Russo, who still has yet to appear in a college game.

--Collins was asked about the prospect of an on-campus stadium. The Owls’ first-year coach said during his introductory press conference in December that he saw renderings of a stadium. President Richard Englert said last week that the school is still pursuing an on-campus stadium.

“Whenever it happens, my faith is in the (Board of Trustees) and the president,” Collins said. “Obviously, (athletic director) Dr. (Pat) Kraft is amazing. When it happens, I’m going to be fired up.

“Having a place right here on Broad Street will be great,” Collins added. “Whatever timeframe it happens, we’re going to make the best of it.”

A Board of Trustees meeting will take place October 10th at 3:30 p.m.



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