As was the case throughout spring practice and preseason camp, there’s uncertainty at the quarterback position for Temple.
It stems from a disastrous offensive performance in Thursday’s 43-7 loss at South Florida. Redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, the starter in the Owls’ first four games, completed just 3 of 13 passes for 32 yards and three interceptions, while redshirt junior Frank Nutile managed 57 yards and one interception on 5 of 17 passing.
Collins was not willing to name a starting quarterback for this Saturday’s matchup with Houston at Lincoln Financial Field when talking to reporters during his portion of Monday’s American Athletic Conference coaches call.
“Everything will be determined on how they do in practice,” Collins said. “I think that’s the best way to do it.
“The better they do in practice, the better the chance of reps Saturday against Houston,” Collins added.
Nutile and Marchi will work “for the most part” with the first- and second-team units, Collins said. True freshman Todd Centeio and redshirt freshman Anthony Russo will likely see most of their reps with the third team and scout team.
“We told Toddy and Russo, as we do at every position, that their performance during the week could give them an opportunity to open some doors and get themselves some playing time,” Collins said.
Collins later added that the coaching staff did not consider playing Russo, a former local standout at Archbishop Wood High School who is featured on Temple's "above the line" depth chart, against USF.
While the quarterback situation is a concern, Temple’s run game has shown little signs of life since the first half of the season opener at Notre Dame, when junior Ryquell Armstead went for 60 yards on 11 carries. The Owls finished with 33 carries for minus-4 rushing yards against USF. Fullback Rob Ritrovato was the team’s leading rusher with five carries for 24 yards. All of it came late in the fourth quarter when the game was well out of reach. Armstead, who suffered an undisclosed injury against Notre Dame, ran 11 times for three yards.
To date, Temple’s rushing attack ranks last in the AAC. The Owls are averaging just 69.8 yards per game on the ground and 2.1 yards per carry.
“We (misidentified) a couple of fronts, a couple of blitzes,” Collins said.
The Owls started four redshirt seniors along the offensive line in Leon Johnson (left tackle), Adrian Sullivan (left guard), Brian Carter (right guard) and Cole Boozer (right tackle). Despite the experience, Chris Wiesehan’s unit struggled to block a USF defensive front that ranks first in the AAC in rushing defense.
But what does Temple’s offensive line have to fix against a Houston defense that allows 160.3 rushing yards per game?
“Just some of the (misidentifications),” Collins said. “And just creating movement.
“The big emphasis this week is we’ve got to create movement,” Collins added. “We’ve got to make sure we’re creating push to make some holes for our running back.”