Sports

Cherry and White game first test for 2017 team

The Owls will finish off their spring schedule with Saturday’s Cherry and White game at Chodoff Field.

For the past 14 weeks Temple’s football team has been learning a new offense and getting used to working under new head coach Geoff Collins.

On Saturday the team will finally be able to see its offense in work during the Cherry and White spring football game at Chodoff Field.

With the offense in white and the defense in cherry, the players are looking forward to showing off what they have done so far this spring.

“The spring game is always cool,” redshirt-senior fullback Nick Sharga said. “Your family and friends come out and it’s always a big event. It’s always cool to get out and put everything you’ve been working on in practice to work in a game type situation.”

The Owls have spots to fill after losing quarterback Phillip Walker, running back Jahad Thomas, defensive lineman Haason Reddick and linebackers Avery Williams and Stephaun Marshall to graduation.

The spring game will shed more light on the current quarterback situation. Walker has been the Owls’ starter for the past three seasons. He played almost every snap last year, throwing for 3295 yards total and 22 touchdowns. The only other quarterback who got time was redshirt-sophomore Logan Marchi who threw for 29 yards and no touchdowns.

Marchi, redshirt-freshman Anthony Russo, redshirt-junior Frank Nutile and freshman Todd Centeio are all still fighting to see who will take Walker’s spot in the falll.

“I feel like every single quarterback has great strengths that can help us win,” redshirt-senior wide receiver Keith Kirkwood said. “I definitely have faith that Coach [Pattenaude] and Coach Collins will make the right decision on who to start, but I think every quarterback can play for us.”

Temple will also be testing out its new offense under offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude. Patenaude’s the offense is more up-tempo than what was done under former offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas.

The Owls will also be showing its versatility. Kirkwood, the first player to earn a single-digit jersey number under Collin’s reign, played wide receiver last year but will also be looking to fill in on the defensive side as a defensive end.

“I hope I have the versatility Coach Collins sees in me,” Kirkwood said. “I’m pretty excited that he has faith in me that I can play both sides of the ball.”

After losing Williams, Marshall and linebacker Jarred Alwan, who combined for a total of 181 tackles, the new class of linebackers will be on display on Saturday. That group includes redshirt-sophomore Shaun Bradley, redshirt-sophomore Jeremiah Atoki and sophomore Sam Franklin. While they are younger and more inexperienced first year linebackers coach Andrew Thacker is hoping their speed and athleticism will help replace the lack of experience.

Along with the linebacking corps, there will be a number of inexperienced players trying to make a mark on Saturday.

“It’s a young group of guys,” senior defensive lineman Jacob Martin said. “I’m excited to see what they have to offer. I think it should be a good showing and a lot of good things put on film for the younger guys on Saturday.”

While the Cherry and White game may not set anything in stone, it will help gauge the team’s progress under the new coaching staff and help highlight what they need to work on before their season opener at Notre Dame on Sept. 2.

“I’m excited to see everybody play,” Kirkwood said. “It’s going to be very competitive and we are going to put on a show for our fans.”

Tessa Sayers can be reached at teresa.sayers@temple.edu or on Twitter @SayersTessa. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.

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