Camp notes: ‘Separation’ continues in quarterback competition

The team is closer to naming a starter, coach Geoff Collins said.

Redshirt-freshman wide receiver Freddie Johnson (right), makes a one-handed catch over redshirt-sophomore defensive back Kareem Ali during Temple’s scrimmage on Saturday at Franklin Field. EVAN EASTERLING | THE TEMPLE NEWS

For the first four months of Geoff Collins’ tenure at Temple, he lived in a high-rise overlooking Franklin Field and Penn’s campus.

His father and uncle both ran for their track & field teams in college and competed at the Penn Relays at the historic stadium. Collins looked out of his window and knew he wanted his team to scrimmage there this preseason.

The Owls had an intrasquad battle on Saturday afternoon at Franklin Field. It was the second scrimmage of the preseason. The team had a competition last Saturday that was closed to media members.

They tried to replicate a game-day situation as much as possible on Saturday. The team stayed in the same hotel it stays in before regular-season home games and created a locker-room style facility with a tent.

Junior running back Ryquell Armstead played in the first half and part of the second half of the scrimmage, but spent a large portion of the second half helping redshirt-junior defensive back Booker McLean play in the backfield. Redshirt-junior wide receiver Ventell Bryant dressed but didn’t practice.

“[Armstead] was back there with the yellow pinnie, telling him every single play what to do,” Collins said. “And just the maturation of [Armstead], how he’s become a leader, obviously he’s a talented back, but just to see him step outside of himself to positively affect other people has been such a good thing during camp.”

Quarterback still yet to be named

On the team’s media day July 31, offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said the team would ideally have a starting quarterback named two weeks before the team’s season opener.

Sept. 2, when the Owls travel to face the University of Notre Dame, is exactly two weeks from Saturday. The team didn’t name a starter, but is closer to making a decision on one or two players, Collins said.

“Right when [the coaching staff are] done here, they’re going to grade the tape. We have all kinds of metrics that we use for production, for assignments, errors, mental errors, all of those things,” Collins said. “We’re going to go through and so it’s not just a guess, it’s not just a hunch. There’s quantitative data that we use to make every decision for every single kid on our roster.”

Collins added that during the team’s first scrimmage last week, there was separation at the quarterback position between two of the contestants and there “might have been a little bit more” on Saturday.

Rather than releasing a traditional depth chart, the team might name players who are “above the line,” or ready to play in a college football game.

The coaches scheduled periods during the scrimmage when quarterbacks were “live,” or subjected to full physical contact like in a game. It allowed the staff to see how they played when they had to escape an oncoming rush.

Collins also mentioned that they could install specific packages into the offense for freshman quarterback Todd Centeio.

“I think that escapability, that presence in the pocket does make Toddy [and] us, have the ability to make different packages for him or letting him play for us, whatever the case may be,” Collins said. “But if we don’t put him in those situations, you’re not going to know that and I thought he stepped up and I thought it was really good.”

Kicker battle still ongoing

Tight ends and special team coach Ed Foley said on Aug. 11 that the kicking competition was in a “dead heat.”

Collins’ remarks didn’t change that on Saturday.

Senior kicker Austin Jones and sophomore kicker Aaron Boumerhi are still battling it out for the starting job.

Collins said the kickers played a game of H.O.R.S.E. recently in practice to go over situational kicking. He didn’t mention who won the game between the two kickers.

Boumerhi replaced Jones after he tore his ACL after being tackled on a kickoff against Memphis last season. Jones went 10-for-12 until his injury. Boumerhi finished the year 15-for-17, including making his first eight field goals.

Collins said director of athletic training Al Bellamy told him Jones’ leg is stronger than it was pre-injury.

Senior punter Alex Starzyk is expected to rejoin the team Monday, a team spokesman said.

It’s all about the ball

During practices, the Owls frequently have a white board along the sideline that players sign when they recover a fumble or intercept a pass.

Had there been a whiteboard at Franklin Field on Saturday, two players would have signed it. Freshman defensive back Ty Mason recovered a fumble by redshirt-junior fullback Rob Ritrovato in the end zone on a goal-line run. Redshirt-sophomore linebacker Daishaun Grimes also scooped up a fumble.

Junior defensive back Delvon Randall said the defensive players met before the scrimmage “to set the standard of how we want the season to be.”

“The board actually helps us want to come out and get our names on there so we come out and practice just how we would play in a game,” he said. “Everyone is competing to get their name and see who gets the most interceptions or turnovers or anything like that.”

Young wideouts making plays

Underclassman wide receivers Freddie Johnson and Jadan Blue made plays down the field throughout the scrimmage.

Johnson, a redshirt freshman, made a one-handed catch over redshirt-sophomore defensive back Kareem Ali along the right sideline in the red zone.

Blue, a freshman, ran with the third-team offense with Centeio at quarterback. The duo linked up three times during a two-minute drill drive in the scrimmage.

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