Geoff Collins looking to see players' progress at Temple's spring game

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Temple coach Geoff Collins will take a hands-off approach Saturday during the Cherry and White game. Former Owls running back Paul Palmer will coach the cherry team and former NFL lineman Brian Baldinger will coach the white team.

Temple football coach Geoff Collins will relinquish his duties, at least for a few hours, when the Owls host Saturday’s Cherry & White game, noon at Temple Sports Complex on Broad and Masters Streets.

Call him Commissioner Collins.

The second-year coach will have former Temple star running back Paul Palmer guide the Cherry team and ex-NFL lineman and current analyst Brian Baldinger in charge of the White.

“I will be the commissioner,” Collins said on Thursday. “I might go up and watch from the stands.”

Temple is coming off a 7-6 season in which the Owls won four of their final five games, including a 28-3 victory over Florida International in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

Now the players say they hope to build off the end of last season.

After 14 practices, Saturday’s game will conclude the spring football season, which began with the first practice on March 13.

Collins says what a player does in the game is important, but so were the previous 14 practices. So it won’t be a make or break effort.

Last season quarterback Logan Marchi, who has since transferred, completed 4 of 10 passes and threw two interceptions in the spring game but still ended up winning the starting job. He started the first seven games, but got hurt. Frank Nutile took the job and didn’t relinquish it.

Nutile went 4-2 and is now the clear No. 1 quarterback, a redshirt senior, who insists he isn’t complacent with his top billing.

There is a quiet confidence this year compared to last season, and a lot of it has to do with spending a year under the Collins regime. Last season, the players were still learning the system while trying to impress their new coaches.

“I think this has been a really good spring,” Nutile said after Thursday’s final practice. “We are a lot more comfortable in the scheme offensively and defensively. We are light-years ahead from this time last year on both sides of the ball, knowing what to do and doing what we do better.”

There are several position battles and Collins never uses a depth chart. He refers to players who are “above the line,” which means being able to compete in the game that week.

“We just want to find as many players who will be above the line when we play in the fall,” Collins said.

The Owls open their season Sept. 1 at Lincoln Financial Field against Villanova.

It will be interesting to see how the young players who have turned heads in camp are able to transfer what they’ve shown to the field on Saturday.

One player is redshirt sophomore safety Keyvone Bruton, who appeared in just two games last year but has made several big plays this spring.

“Keyvone has had a really good spring and he wears No. 20, and at times he has looked like [former Eagle] Brian Dawkins this spring,” Collins said last week. “That is not a small statement.”

No it isn’t.

On the offensive side, freshman receiver Sean Ryan, who enrolled in January, has made several impressive receptions. At 6-foot-4 and 195-pounds, he is a major red zone threat.

Throughout camp, Collins has evaluated players who could also help on special teams, but there will be no kickoff or punts on Saturday. Still, there will be enough chances, especially for the young players, to make an impression and work their way up the depth chart.