During Monday’s media day, Geoff Collins said all four quarterbacks competing for the starting spot will each receive a snap from four different centers simultaneously to open Tuesday’s practice.
It symbolizes that it is an open search and that redshirt senior Frank Nutile, redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, redshirt freshman Anthony Russo and freshman Todd Centeio all have a shot of leading the Owls’ offense onto the field on Sept. 2 against the University of Notre Dame.
“We just took it as it’s an open competition,” Marchi said. “There’s no favorite. There’s nobody in the back… that excites guys.”
The quarterback competition has been ongoing for months, dating back to the start of spring practice in March.
During the Cherry and White game, some of the candidates displayed glimpses of their talent, but nobody came out as the clear leader of the competition. The preseason camp provides the four players with more opportunities to prove themselves. Wednesday’s practice was interrupted by rain and lightning.
Russo said despite all of the talk about who will start at quarterback, he doesn’t feel any pressure about the situation.
“No, I think to be successful at the quarterback position you kind of have to embrace the pressure,” Russo said. “You kind of have to be able to handle it. That’s something that comes along with the position, so I don’t think so.”
Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said on Media Day Monday, the way the quarterbacks handle the pressure in practice will be one of the many things the coaches will evaluate as they make a decision for the job.
Patenaude was the offensive coordinator at Coastal Carolina University for the past five seasons. Last season he cycled through six starting quarterbacks due to injury but was still able to lead Coastal Carolina to average 37.2 points per game and finish with a 10-2 record.
While Patenaude has previously mentioned he’d like to run more of an up-tempo offense, he also said he will cater the offense to whichever quarterback wins the job.
Marchi, who possess the ability to improvise at times and make plays with his feet, is excited about the possibility of running a fast pace offense.
“In the past I’ve been in that kind of pro style, under center offense, so being able to come out in Coach Patenaude’s offense, it’s exciting,” Marchi said. “And the fact that he will tailor it to each quarterback, I think is a great approach from a coach’s perspective, not favoriting your offense to one player. I’m looking forward to seeing what type of offense we bring.”
Quarterback isn’t the only spot up for competition
In some respects, this training camp is the same as the previous three for Austin Jones.
The senior kicker said he never entered preseason practices expecting to be the starting kicker. The same is true this year.
He and sophomore Aaron Boumerhi are competing for the spot. Jones owns the school record for consecutive made field goals and made 10-of-12 field goals last season before suffering a torn ACL against Memphis in October. Boumerhi made 15-of-17 field goal attempts while filling in for Jones.
“To do what those guys did last year, was like, you couldn’t write it any better. … It’ll be a legitimate competition,” tight ends coach Ed Foley said.
“This is going to be my toughest competition,” said Jones, who added he has no physical limitations resulting from the injury. “He’s a great kicker, great guy, but I’m just going to attack every single day. Look at the day-to-day, not look ahead.”
Boumerhi is looking to keep the same mentality he had when he assumed kicking duties and Jones told him to downplay the moment.
“You just try to treat every kick on it’s own,” Boumerhi said. “So I try to go out there every kick and just try to go 1-for-1. So even if you missed a kick before, you don’t want to think like, ‘I’m going to be 1-for-2.’ Just try to be 1-for-1 every kick.”
Both Boumerhi and Jones are punting during preseason camp, as they’ve done in previous years. Freshman punter Connor Bowler, who earned second-team Ches-Mont National Division honors as a junior at Downingtown West High School, recently joined the team as a walk-on.
Senior punter Alex Starzyk, who was suspended indefinitely during the spring camp, is still on the roster, Foley said. He added that Starzyk and Bowler will be in competition when Starzyk rejoins the team.
Foley thinks the Owls have a group of athletes who can be dynamic kickoff and punt returners. It’s up to him and the coaching staff to put a special teams unit in front of them to clear a path.
Senior defensive back Sean Chandler averaged 12.1 yards per punt return in 2015 to lead the American Athletic Conference. Redshirt-senior defensive back Mike Jones earned first-team all-conference honors in 2014 and 2016 as a return specialist for North Carolina Central University, which competes at the Football Championship Subdivision level. He owns the school’s record for career punt return average.
Foley has also been impressed by sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Wright, who also played some running back and Wildcat quarterback last season. He recorded 278 kickoff return yards in 2016 on 11 attempts.
Sophomore wide receiver Randle Jones returned seven kickoffs last season, averaging 20.6 yards. Four other Owls that are still with the team returned kicks last year, including senior wide receiver Adonis Jennings. His took his lone return of the season 43 yards on Nov. 26 against East Carolina.
“If they get some space and they can create and make people miss tackles in space, I think we’re going to have some good returns,” Foley said.
Series scheduled with Power 5 school
The Owls will face the University of Miami in a home-and-home series in 2020 and 2023, the team announced Thursday.
Temple will travel to Florida to face the Hurricanes, an Atlantic Coast Conference team, on Sept. 5, 2020. Miami will come to Philadelphia on Sept. 23, 2023.
Miami has won the last 13 meetings between the two schools. The Owls and Hurricanes, former Big East Conference opponents, last played each other in 2005.
Temple will also face an ACC school next year when it plays on the road against Boston College in September.