Players were confident after Tuesday’s practice at Edberg Olson Hall Football Complex.
Despite coming off a 45-35 loss to Boston College Saturday, Temple University football players were not down on their effort or performance.
“I felt like we played really hard, I felt like we played really physical, I feel like it was a street fight for sure,” said junior linebacker Shaun Bradley. “A couple technical things we gotta work up on, but for the most part, I think we played well.”
The Owls are 2-3 with the remaining seven games on their schedule in American Athletic Conference play.
East Carolina comes in with a 2-2 record, having two games postponed, and losing their conference opener to South Florida on Sept. 22. Last year, Temple beat ECU, 34-10.
“We’re going back to our traditional spread-offense,” redshirt sophomore linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley said at practice on Tuesday. “They like to move the ball fast and have small, scatty backs.
“We’re still locked in,” Bradley added. “Still focused, still trying to get better every week.”
Coach Geoff Collins was non-committal on the status of graduate student offensive tackle James McHale for the game on Saturday. McHale missed the last two games because of an unspecified injury.
If McHale is unable to play again on Saturday, freshman Adam Klein will step in as the starter.
“James we’re hoping he’ll be better,” Collins said. “We did a little bit today, hopefully doing a little bit more each day to be ready for Saturday, so we’re hopeful for [McHale].”
Graduate student quarterback Frank Nutile is 100-percent healthy, Collins said. Nutile injured his lower-body during Temple’s 36-29 loss to the University at Buffalo. Before sustaining an injury, Nutile completed 33-of-63 passes, while throwing for 401 yards and four touchdowns.
“I think so,” Collins said. “[Nutile’s] still wearing the brace, but he’s stepping into his throws and has a philosophy to protect himself.”
Russo will receive ‘bulk of the load’
If Temple were to play tomorrow, redshirt sophomore quarterback Anthony Russo would receive the majority of the playing time at the position, Collins said.
“I thought [Russo] did a really nice job and again playing quarterback in our system isn’t about just dropping back and slinging it,” Collins said, vocalizing his opinion on Temple’s quarterbacks on Tuesday. “He’s got to make decisions in the run-game, he’s got to make decisions in the pass-game, and I just think his maturity level and how he’s handled all of that is really good.”
Russo started three of this season’s five games. He completed 44-of-94 passes for 619 yards, with a passing and rushing touchdown.
Temple’s offense has moved well under Russo, Collins said. With Nutile as the signal-caller, the Owls averaged 23 points per game, now with Russo at the helm, Temple is averaging more than 33 points per game.
Collins is opting to go with the hot-hand rather than turn back to his veteran, who was not fully healthy until this week. Nutile was week-to-week with his unspecified lower-body injury, but he sported a brace on his right leg at Boston College and again at practice on Tuesday.
Penalties, dropped passes and missed assignments spoiled Temple’s pursuit of upsetting Boston College on the road.
Graduate students tight end Chris Myarick and safety Jyquis Thomas committed targeting penalties against Boston College. Thomas was penalized in the second half of the Sept. 29 game, meaning he will miss the first half against ECU.
Temple has to learn how to play fast and aggressive without committing penalties, Collins said.
“The big thing is, our guys play within the limits,” Collins said. “They play physical, they play tough, they play with relentless effort, and they go so hard. The thing we’ve talked about is you can’t go beyond that and you become reckless … You’ve got to play with an edge, but you can’t go over it.”
The Owls were penalized 11 times for 95 yards on Saturday afternoon, prolonging drives and leading to scores.
On a third-and-13 with Boston College driving and just under eight minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Owls held the Eagles, forcing a punt. However, redshirt junior Chapelle Russell was given a 15-yard personal foul penalty that extended Boston College’s drive, eventually leading to a touchdown and making it a one-point game at 14-13.
Junior linebacker Franklin was assessed a personal-foul penalty with just under six minutes remaining in the game. Boston College gained 15-yards from the penalty, and went on to score and take a 45-35 lead.
“[Russell and Franklin are] grown men, so they know how to play within the whistles,” said Graham-Mobley at practice on Tuesday. “They know their rights and wrongs. Playing fast isn’t a penalty in my opinion, those penalties that went on, we’ll cure them up, we’ll get better, we won’t make them again.”
For Temple to avoid the backbreaking penalties, they have to play smart with each other, and believe in one another, Graham-Mobley said.