Quarterback run game develops in Todd Centeio’s debut

Freshman quarterback Todd Centeio led the Owls’ offense for seven plays in Friday’s 29-21 win against the University of Massachusetts at Lincoln Financial Field.

Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi scrambles during Temple’s 29-21 win against the University of Massachusetts on Sept. 15, 2017, at Lincoln Financial Field. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / FILE PHOTO

The special packages coach Geoff Collins mentioned during preseason camp were revealed in Friday night’s game against the University of Massachusetts.

In the second quarter, freshman quarterback Todd Centeio made his college debut after redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi got the starting nod for the third consecutive game.

Centeio ran a total of seven plays — he completed both of his passing attempts for 20 yards and rushed for 10 yards on two carries as Temple beat UMass 29-21 at Lincoln Financial Field. He became the first Temple freshman quarterback to see game action since Phillip Walker did against Fordham University in 2013.

Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said Centeio has developed faster than a typical freshman, but added he would only start in a game due to injuries.

Collins and Patenaude each said Centeio’s packages will be expanded in the future.

“[Centeio’s] got great intangibles, he’s a gamer,” Patenaude said.

Collins said Temple prepared for Centeio to see game action against UMass. The Owls were working on the packages for the past three weeks, he said.

Whether Marchi or Centeio was in at quarterback, Patenaude called read options and plays that rolled them out of the pocket.

On Centeio’s first play, the Owls had four players with the potential to run the ball on the field. Temple lined up in the shotgun with junior running back Jager Gardner and redshirt-junior running back David Hood in a split backfield. Sophomore wideout Isaiah Wright, who ran for 232 yards and played some quarterback in the wildcat formation last year, lined up in the slot.

A holding penalty on redshirt-senior offensive lineman Brian Carter pushed the Owls back 10 yards after Centeio gained four yards on his first carry. But following the flag, Centeio established a rhythm on offense.

Two plays after Carter’s penalty, Centeio faked the handoff to Gardner and rolled out to his right. With redshirt-senior defensive lineman Sha-Ki Holines rushing toward him, he delivered an 11-yard strike to sophomore wideout Randle Jones. Centeio then kept the ball on a read-option play for six yards and a first down.

Centeio was pulled for Marchi on the final play of the drive because Temple “exhausted what the package was for the week,” Collins said. He came out for one more play on Temple’s next possession and handed the ball to Jones on an end around. Marchi reentered the game after the play, and Centeio didn’t return.

Marchi’s play wasn’t smooth to start the game, Patenaude said. Prior to Centeio taking his first snap, Marchi completed two of his five passes for 23 yards. Marchi followed Centeio’s first possession by completing 9-of-15 attempts for 89 yards to end the first half. He threw touchdowns to senior wideout Adonis Jennings and redshirt-senior wideout Keith Kirkwood in the second quarter.

“[Centeio] handled himself really well,” Patenaude said. “He gives us some athleticism. He takes some of the load off of Logan. It’s not only that you’re subbing a guy in and out, but you’re also giving the other quarterback a chance to take a breath, recompose himself and have a guy go in that can change the pace of the game.”

Marchi and Centeio combined for nine rushing attempts against the Minutemen. Patenaude said he expects the quarterback run game to be a big part of Temple offense in the future.

While Patenaude was the offensive coordinator for Coastal Carolina University from 2012-16, his quarterbacks had more than 100 rushing attempts in four of the five seasons. He also has experience using more than one quarterback. Last season at Coastal Carolina, he played seven quarterbacks.

Marchi wasn’t worried about getting taken out of his rhythm after Centeio substituted into the game for him. Instead, he was glad to see Centeio perform well in his debut.

“We got a great relationship between the quarterback group and we’re all rooting for each other,” Marchi said.

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