Moments after quarterback Frank Nutile led Temple to an impressive 34-26 win Thursday night over Navy before 26,127 at Lincoln Financial Field and a national audience on ESPN, Owls coach Geoff Collins was asked who would be his quarterback next week. Collins reacted as if he had bitten into a lemon.
Nutile made his second consecutive start for an injured Logan Marchi and was a dominant figure, not a game manager as some have portrayed him. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound redshirt junior completed 22 of 30 passes for 289 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, which came on a dropped pass.
Collins wanted to focus on that, not on who would start next Friday against Cincinnati.
“I am just trying to enjoy the night,” Collins said before saying a few other sentences that didn’t have anything to do with the question.
Similarly, offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude was evasive when asked the same question.
“You guys put me in a tough situation when you talk about these conversations,” Patenaude said. “Obviously, he did a really good job.”
Even Nutile wouldn’t take the bait when asked if he has done enough to earn the job.
“I am not too sure about that,” said Nutile. “Coach Collins and Coach Patenaude will probably figure that out. I am concerned with winning games for these guys.”
In his first start, a 31-28 overtime loss Oct. 21 at Army, Nutile completed 20 of 29 passes for 290 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) November 3, 2017
Marchi completed 55.5 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions before suffering an unspecified injury.
At this point, it’s difficult to see what else Nutile has to do to earn the job. All season, Collins has said the player who plays the best in practice will earn time in the game. Well, Nutile is performing at a high level in the game itself.
While Marchi has better scrambling ability, Nutile has the best grasp of the offense among the four quarterbacks, who also include freshman Todd Centeio, who is redshirting, and redshirt freshman Anthony Russo.
Both Marchi and Nutile have the respect of their teammates, and they have gone out of their way not to take sides. Nutile, however, has certainly won their admiration with his detailed preparation and performance.
“He loves watching film and you can see how he performs on the field, his work ethic and hard work and dedication — doing the best he can to help the receivers out is amazing,” said receiver Keith Kirkwood, who had seven receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown Thursday. “And I think everybody around the country sees what Frank Nutile is about now.”
Nutile threw touchdown passes of 34 and 40 yards to Adonis Jennings in stride. He found Jake Robinson for a 3-yard score, the first career catch for the redshirt sophomore from Haddonfield.
Most of all, Nutile made good, quick decisions and wasn’t sacked. At this point, he has earned the right to start for the Owls (4-5), whether anybody wants to say it or not.