Quotebook report: Quarterbacks competing for starting role, learning new offense

With a new coaching staff and positions up for grabs, Temple opened its spring camp on March 20.

Former quarterback Phillip Walker will need to be replaced before the Owls' season opener against the University of Notre Dame in August. | HOJUN YU FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS

Former quarterback Phillip Walker assumed the starting role as a freshman in 2013. Since then, Temple has progressed from a two-win team to post back-to-back 10-win seasons. Walker will graduate as Temple’s all-time leading passer and the first quarterback to lead Temple to consecutive bowl games.

Five quarterbacks are vying to replace his spot. They’re also learning offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude’s offense.

Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi on what he learned from Walker

“[Walker] was a leader by example so just seeing him and how calm and collected he was in the pocket in those tough situations of the game is more than words themselves. So just seeing how he plays and how he carries himself is all I needed to learn from.”

Patenaude on the quarterback competition

“That’s the biggest thing for all of these guys coming in right now is OK, on a blackboard, you can say, ‘OK, we’re running the ball here, we’re throwing the ball here, this is what we have kind of planned.’ But until the bullets start to fly, and then they’re starting to blitz, and there’s dudes like [redshirt-senior defensive lineman Sharif Finch] coming off the edge at you, now you have to be able to handle the pressure, handle the heat. So it’s going to be able to, ‘Can I check the right play? Can I make myself protected in the protections? Do I know where to go with the ball?’ That’s all in the keys to be a great quarterback.”

Coach Geoff Collins on the quarterback competition

“The big thing whole offseason we were evaluating leadership. How the guys were positively affecting their teammates, those kind of things. So the big part for us is the leadership ability. Their presence with the team, their presence in the locker room. And obviously, they can spin it. They’ve all got talented arms. Some have some real good feet, escapability in the pocket, those kind of things. So we’ll just find out what each kid can do and bring the offense around that.”

Patenaude on the offense

“Well, I think we’re going to try to play a little bit more uptempo than they did at times. We’re not going to be the mentality that we’re just going to run up to the line and haphazardly call plays. We’d like to be able to push the tempo. If we were a basketball team, we’d want to take it off the rim, run it up the court, get a good shot, get a good layup, put pressure on people. But not just take haphazard 3-pointers. We want to be able to pull it out get it to the right place. So a lot of that is based on the quarterback being able to check us out of plays and in and out of the system. Maybe a little bit more option than we were last year without trying to get [Walker] hurt. …But still the same bones of what we’ve done. Really big power, ‘knock you down’ type of Temple football.”

Redshirt-freshman quarterback Anthony Russo on the offense

“I mean, last year’s offense was great. It was a pro-style offense. We ran the Falcons’ offense with coach Glenn Thomas but this year is a quarterback’s dream. We’re throwing the ball 25, 30 times a game and you can’t complain about that. Plus, we still have Nick Sharga, who is the best fullback in the country in my opinion and Rock, who is one of the best running backs. So we’re still going to have that ground and pound with those two, but kind of being able to sling the ball around 25, 30 times a game which is a quarterback’s dream.”

Redshirt-junior quarterback Frank Nutile on the offense

“Obviously it’s a new system so it takes time, but [Patenaude], he’s had success everywhere he’s been so we trust him and we’re just trying to learn day-by-day and get better every day.”

Patenaude on Russo

“He’s a beautiful dude, now. He sits back in the pocket. He’s six, three and a half, six four. He looks like a good pocket passer. The ball comes out of his hand really well. He’s a good thrower. He’s actually a better athlete than I think a lot of people give him credit for. He’s not going to be a guy that you’re going to run 25 snaps of zone read with. But he is athletic enough to run some option and a little bit of speed and get yourself out of problems and that type of stuff.”

Patenaude on freshman quarterback Todd Centeio

“Much better athlete than I thought he was. When I was recruiting him, he had just come off a leg injury. So he was kind of gimping around in the spring last year. Really good athlete. He’s got a good sense of how to play quarterback. Something that I can’t teach, all the QB gurus in the country can’t teach ‘Do you have that innate ability to play quarterback? Do you have the feel to play quarterback?’ He has that. We gotta work on some mechanical things. He kind of flips his hips open too fast, that type of thing. Really smart, really competitive. He was in there on the tug rope against Logan and wasn’t giving an inch. He’s a very competitive kid, very smart football kid.”

Evan Easterling can be reached at evan.easterling@temple.edu or on Twitter @Evan_Easterling. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.

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