Temple wide receiver Keith Kirkwood has struggled recently, and coach Geoff Collins gave an indication why.
Collins said during Monday’s American Athletic Conference media call that the redshirt senior has been playing at less than 100 percent.
“Keith has been banged-up for the last two weeks, but he is close to being [fully] healthy,” Collins said.
Two weeks ago in a 43-7 loss at South Florida, Kirkwood didn’t have a reception. During Saturday’s 20-13 loss to visiting Houston, Kirkwood had one catch for 15 yards, although a 30-yard reception was overturned in a controversial decision.
For the season, Kirkwood has 13 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Collins was asked about a rumor that senior placekicker Austin Jones wouldn’t be playing the rest of the year, because of injury. Jones suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in the sixth game last season and returned to play in the first four games this year, but didn’t see action Saturday. Temple has used Jones as the short-distance kicker on field goals and used Aaron Boumerhi on kickoffs and long field goals.
On Saturday, Bourmerhi handed all attempts, including a 29-yard field goal that he made.
“Austin has been banged-up and we knew that going in, and he is fighting through it and constantly rehabbing,” Collins said.
If Jones doesn’t play anymore this year, he would likely earn a medical redshirt. Last season, defensive end Sharif Finch played in four games but earned a medical redshirt.
Starting left guard Jovahn Fair has missed the last two games with an unspecified injury. When asked whether Fair will be back, Collins said, “He has been there every single day, and we’re trying to get it.”
There were many controversial officiating decisions Saturday, including one in which linebacker Shaun Bradley was ejected for targeting. Collins says he and his staff typically send four to five plays to the AAC office to get interpretations of various calls.
“This week, there was probably triple that number,” Collins said.
Temple (2-3, 0-2 AAC) will visit East Carolina (1-4, 1-1) on Saturday at noon. ECU is last in the AAC in scoring defense, allowing 50.6 points per game, and Temple is last in scoring offense (16.2 ppg.).
Collins says the emphasis will be on getting a quicker start. Temple has been outscored by 31-9 in the first quarter of games and has yet to score a touchdown in the opening period.
Time set for UConn game
The AAC revealed that Temple’s Oct. 14 game at Lincoln Financial Field against Connecticut will start at noon. The Owls are in the middle of playing four straight noon games, which began Saturday against Houston and will end Oct. 21 at Army.
After a bye week, the Owls will then host Navy, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2.