Learning a third offense playbook in as many years can be hectic, but for Anthony Russo, it’s fun.
The redshirt junior is ready to be the leader of Temple University’s football program as the starting quarterback. After starting in 10 games and leading the Owls to the Independence Bowl last season, Russo is becoming a vocal leader, redshirt junior wide receiver Brendan Mack said.
Temple will be forced to learn a new offense this season after Geoff Collins’ departure for Georgia Tech, taking former offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude with him.
“A new offense…I need to make sure I know it better than everybody else,” Russo said. “For the guys that aren’t sure what they’re doing yet, that way I can put them in the right positions. Just getting in here, living in the film room.”
For Russo, he will rely heavily on Mack in the new offense. Russo and Mack have known each other since high school and are familiar with each other, which helps on-field chemistry, Russo said.
“I’ve been throwing to [Mack] for six or seven years now, so that connection is definitely there,” Russo added. “He’s just a big body, he’s a basketball player, so he can go up like its a rebound and get up and get the ball wherever it’s at.”
For a team to be successful, the starting quarterback must be a great leader, Russo said.
“Having a whole year as a starter under my belt, I’ve kind of fallen into a leadership role,” he added. “As a quarterback, you have to be that leader. Being a guy that’s been around college football for three years now, I know that games in November and December are won in the weight room throughout the year.”
After former Temple quarterback Frank Nutile injured his knee against the University of Buffalo on Sept. 8, Russo took hold of the starting quarterback position and never let go.
The Owls finished the 2018 season with an 8-5 record and were 7-3 when Russo started.
“Russo definitely has the lion’s share of the experience,” coach Rod Carey said. “And you can tell when he’s playing.
Russo biggest lesson from a successful sophomore season is turnover prevention. Russo is looking to commit fewer turnovers after throwing 14 touchdowns and just as many interceptions last season.
“My mindset right now is to get better every day, the same thing I had last year,” Russo said. “Watching the film from the last year, seeing what I can do better. Too many interceptions, too many turnovers, putting the defense in bad situations, stuff like that. On top of that, there’s a new offense.”