Temple Football finishes up spring practices with Cherry and White Fan Fest

The Owls finalized their spring practice schedule under first-year head coach Rod Carey with a Fan Fest at the Temple Sports Complex on Saturday.

Temple's offense lines up for a passing drill during the Owls' Cherry and White Fan Fest at the Temple Sports Complex on Saturday. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University Football held its Cherry and White Fan Fest, including a full practice at Temple Sports Complex on Saturday. It was the final practice for the Owls’ 2019 spring training.

Instead of having a spring game, the Owls chose to have a spring practice in front of students, alumni and former players.

Although Temple was happy with the event, the level of play at practice was not up to the team’s standards, coach Rod Carey said

Over the course of spring practies, Todd Centeio, Jadan Blue and Kyle Dobbins are the players in particular who have stood out, Carey added. The Owls will look for all three to be large contributors on offense in 2019.

Deep Linebacker Corps

Temple’s will head into the 2019 season returning one of the deepest linebacking corps in the nation.

“It’s so fun to coach these guys,” Carey said. “They absolutely love football, they are in there learning it and leading it. I’ve said this before, but the linebackers have been a good group for sure.”

Temple returns four senior linebackers: Chapelle Russell, Sam Franklin, Shaun Bradley, and William Kwenkeu.

First team All-Conference selection Shaun Bradley will lead the group. Bradley played in 13 games for the Owls last season and was second on the team in total tackles last season with 78.

Russell led the country last season in fumble recoveries with five. Franklin was tied for fourth on the team in total tackles with 70.

Replacing Armstead

Temple will have to fill the void at the running back position with former back Ryquell Armstead entering the NFL Draft.

The Owls return redshirt-senior running back Jager Gardner who played in 10 games last season. Gardner finished third on the team in rushing yards with 253 last season.

Redshirt sophomore Jeremy Jennings and redshirt juniors Jonny Forrest and Tyliek Raynor will return after seeing limited playing time in 2018. Kyle Dobbins was a part of the 2018 recruiting class and redshirted last season.

“Kyle Dobbins, he runs the ball really hard,” Bradley said. He’s a lot smaller than [Ryquell Armstead] but he runs the ball really hard, lowers his shoulder, covers the balls at all times and runs hard. He gets hit sometimes, may get knocked off his feet, but he gets right back up and still runs the same way.”

The 2019 recruiting class brings two new running backs, freshmen  Re’Mahn Davis and Edward Saydee. Davis was a mid-year enrollee and participated in spring practices.

Gardner said that the group is healthy and focused on helping each other get back into form.

“We’re all back and doing what we need to do and it’s been accredit to everybody … we take each other’s reps when we need to and do what we need to do as player’s” Gardner said.

First-year running backs coach Gabe Infante will play a hand in replacing Armstead. Infante left Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School in December 2018 after coaching for nine years and winning four PIAA state championships, accumulating a 91-22 overall record.

“[Infante’s] a great guy… he’ll give you nothing but the best and he’s so honest with you can’t do nothing but respect him as a coach so I love working with him.” Gardner added.

Defensive Line

The Owls are also working to replace another NFL talent: former defensive tackle Michael Dogbe. Dogbe led the team in tackles for loss with 12.5 and totaled seven sacks.

Senior Karamo Dioubate and redshirt junior Dan Archibong will lead the interior defensive line this season.

Redshirt-junior Quincy Roche will return at defensive end, which is good news for the Owls. Roche played in 13 games last season, finishing second on the team in tackles for loss with nine and second in sacks with 60.

Graduate student Zack Mesday will return after being granted a sixth of year of eligbility from the NCAA. Mesday had a career year in 2018, totaling 33 tackles, eight tackles for loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles.

Redshirt-senior Dana Levine did not participate in practice but was present on the sideline. Levine battled injury in 2018, but was still able to total 32 total tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Leading the defensive line in 2019 will be Walter Stewart. Stewart’s defensive line was one of the best in the country in 2018 finishing second in the country with 50 sacks.

Learning the new defensive scheme has been a smooth and easy transition, Roche said.

“This is the third coach since I’ve been here so it gets easier to learn the playbook as it goes… there’s a lot of similarities so that helped us learn the defense.” Roche said. “It’s a lot of the same guys coming back so it’s just getting out there… as a defense we have the same philosophies as we did in the past.”

Injuries

The whole purpose of not having a game was to avoid injuries, Carey said. However, the Owls were unable to fight off the injury bug.

Redshirt junior quarterback Anthony Russo banged up his right thumb after hitting it on a teammates helmet. Russo will be getting an X-ray according to a team spokesperson. Redshirt freshman defensive end Tyreke Young was helped off the field after suffering a right knee injury.

In addition, redshirt junior cornerback Kimere Brown has an unspecified injury and will not be ready to participate in practices until the summer, Carey added.

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