Owls’ offensive lineman benefits from unexpected playing time

Redshirt-freshman Wisdom Quarshie made his first career start against East Carolina on Nov. 21 despite not being expected to play this season.

Redshirt-freshman offensive lineman Wisdom Quarshie runs on the field during the Owls’ game against East Carolina University at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 21. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Wisdom Quarshie wasn’t supposed to take the field for Temple University football this season. 

But due to players missing games because of injuries and COVID-19 protocols, he was thrust into the Owls’ starting lineup in the final game of Temple’s season on Nov. 21. 

“I just took it as an opportunity,” Quarshie, a redshirt-freshman offensive lineman, said. “I took it as adversity and tried to attack it as best I can.” 

Quarshie wasn’t supposed to play offensive line. He switched from the defensive line last November. 

The experience he gained in his two appearances allowed him to improve his technique, making him an important part of the Owls future, said offensive line coach Joe Tripodi.

“These are so valuable that he’s getting these reps right now,” Tripodi added. “In my experience as a coach and as a player, that’s when you get better when you’re taking game reps. You can’t simulate that.” 

Quarshie had a feeling the coaching staff would change his position because of some of his positive interactions with head coach Rod Carey last season, he said. 

“He would come up to me and just smile at me,” Quarshie added. “I was sitting in the defensive line meeting and coach [Walter] Stewart said coach Carey wants to talk to me, and I was scared because I thought I was in trouble or something.”

Almost exactly a year after that conversation, Quarshie made his first career start on the Owls’ offensive line against East Carolina on Nov. 21 but saw his first game action of the season against Central Florida on Nov. 14. 

Against the Knights, it took Quarshie one play to get used to the speed of the game, but after that, he settled in, he said. 

“I came into the game prepared,” Quarshie added. “I knew I could possibly get in so I was ready to go. I told myself [to] just control myself and take it one play at a time, you’ll catch up.”

Quarshie struggled a bit against the Knights, but significantly improved when he started against the Pirates, Carey said. 

Temple’s offensive line gave up four sacks against the Knights but allowed zero sacks against the Pirates. 

“[He] is going to be a really good football player here for a long time,” Carey said. “The leap from being thrown into the fire to starting, there was good improvement there.” 

The transition from defensive to offensive line can be challenging for some players because offensive linemen have to learn the different parts of the offense, Tripodi said. 

“You have the pass schemes, you have the run schemes, screens and protections,” Tripodi added. “[When] you think about [the] offensive line you have a play, but there might be six different ways to block that play and that’s just part of the transition.” 

Tripodi believes Quarshie handled the transition so well because of his work ethic and attention to detail when watching film. 

Quarshie credits his successful position switch to positive encouragement from his fellow teammates and coach Tripodi. 

“The offensive line surrounding me and telling me how good I could be and helping me with the playbook,” Quarshie said. “Coach Tripodi making me feel comfortable and making me feel like one of them, so I kinda told myself, ‘Maybe I am one of these offensive linemen.’”

Quarshie could be a starter on the Owls’ offensive line next season if graduate student Vincent Picozzi or senior Joseph Hooper decide to leave the team and not use their extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Even if he doesn’t start right away next season, Quarshie is thankful for the chances he got this season. 

“It was really a blessing to have the opportunity to go out and play,” Quarshie said. “I just knew this is what I wanted ever since I started playing football.”

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