Here we go again, another quarterback controversy at Temple. Coach Geoff Collins never announced a starter before the Owls’ opening 49-16 loss at Notre Dame, although redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi was told early in the week he had won the job.
Marchi was the starter for the first three games, where he didn’t throw an interception.
Then came Thursday’s 43-7 loss at South Florida, which has since jumped to No. 18 in this week’s Associated Press rankings.
Temple committed six turnovers, including four interceptions, three by Marchi.
For the second consecutive week, freshman Todd Centeio was inserted for a few plays, but redshirt junior Frank Nutile also made his first appearance of the season and completed 4 of 12 passes for 57 yards and one interception.
On Monday Collins said Nutile and Marchi would be competing for the job this week. Centeio could still appear in certain packages, while the fourth quarterback, redshirt freshman Anthony Russo, has yet to play this season.
A day later, Collins wasn’t prepared to announce a starter, saying that the work all week in practice would determine it.
Temple (2-2, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) will host Houston (2-1, 0-0) at noon on Saturday.
Another loss would almost certainly knock defending East Division and conference champion Temple out of the race. Temple is a 13.5 point underdog to a Houston team that owns a 5-0 all-time record against the Owls.
Yet talking about championships is the furthest thing from Temple’s mind. The Owls want to get the quarterback situation straightened out, along with an inconsistent offensive line, a receiving corps that has dropped too many passes and a running game that is averaging 2.1 yards per carry.
Yet it is the quarterback spot that draws the most notice and Marchi and Nutile seemed up for the weeklong competition.
“The best part of last week is that it is last week and we get to move on,” said Marchi, who has completed 53.8 percent of his passes for 799 yards, five touchdowns and the three interceptions.
South Florida had five sacks, two against Marchi, who was constantly under pressure against what will likely be the quickest defense the Owls face this season.
“I have to make better decisions with the ball, I didn’t do that last week,” Marchi said. “We are going to make better decisions and the offense will be OK.”
Nutile, a redshirt junior from New Jersey power Don Bosco Prep, had five career passing attempts before Thursday’s game.
“It felt pretty good to get out there,” Nutile said. “I think I made some good throws and I made some mistakes.”
He said this week was all about cleaning up the mistakes. It’s also about another open competition for quarterback, where, according to Collins, every throw in practice counts.
Marchi insists the uncertainty about who will be under center, isn’t difficult to deal with.
“No it isn’t” he said. “The coaches do a great job preparing us each week and when snaps come, you have to be ready.”