One of the hottest competitions at Temple this season is between placekickers Austin Jones, a senior, and Aaron Boumerhi, a sophomore.
“It is a dead heat as of today,” Temple special teams coach Ed Foley said after Friday’s practice.
Jones had started since his freshman year until suffering a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament injury in the sixth game last season against Memphis. Boumerhi, a walk-on, came in and converted 15 of 17 field goal attempts in earning second-team all-American Athletic Conference honors.
On Thursday, coach Geoff Collins said both players hit a field goal in practice from beyond 54 yards.
“I have been at a lot of places where one player couldn’t hit from that far,” Collins said. “We had two do that, and we keep putting them in pressure situations, kickoff battle, field goal battle, and it has been fun to watch.”
Foley suggested that it might come down to the wire, right before the Sept. 2 opener at Notre Dame, before a kicker is chosen. He said that Jones appears to be stronger than ever.
“It is amazing. It is like a bionic leg,” Foley said. “I told the medical people that he is kicking it further than from before he got hurt.”
The punting situation remains up in the air.
“Connor Bowler is doing a great job punting, and [Boumerhi] is punting for us now, and we expect [Alex] Starzyk to get back any day, and we will like him to get involved in the competition as well,” Foley said. “That is another [competition] we will keep right up to the Notre Dame game.”
Bowler is a freshman from Downingtown West. Starzyk was suspended indefinitely in the fall. There is no timetable when Starzyk will be expected back.
Redshirt junior Ventell Bryant, Temple’s leading receiver last season has missed some recent time due to an undisclosed injury.
“I will be back in no time and ready for the [Notre Dame] game,” said Bryant, who had 54 receptions for 895 yards and four touchdowns.
Johnson moving over?
Last year, current redshirt senior Leon Johnson started all 14 games at right tackle, but he could be moving over to left tackle, replacing Dion Dawkins, a second-round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills.
“It looks like I will be on the left,” Johnson said. “I would say 98 percent of my reps have been on the left.”
Johnson hasn’t been 100 percent this camp while recovering from offseason surgeries to repair his shoulder, hip and groin. But he said he should be ready to go by the opener.
Big test for the QBs
The next two Saturdays, Temple will have scrimmages that should go a long way in determining the starting quarterback. Four players are battling, and none of them have separated from the others yet. The candidates are redshirt junior Frank Nutile, redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, redshirt freshman Anthony Russo and freshman Todd Centeio.
“We have a huge scrimmage on Saturday, and that will be a huge separation moment we are hoping for,” Collins said. “The nice thing is that, if we had to play tomorrow all four would think they could play for us. So that is a positive, but we are trying to find who [the starter] is.”
Collins suggested that more than one quarterback could see action even after a starter is named.
“We have done a bunch of other packages with a bunch of different guys. Obviously I won’t say who. In the preseason, that has been good for us,” he said.