Getting RB Ryquell Armstead to sit a difficult task for Temple

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Ryquell Armstead carries the ball for a first down during a Temple Owls loss to the Houston Cougars 20-13 at the Linc Saturday September 30, 2017. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer

It’s been a rough year for Temple junior running back Ryquell Armstead, simply because he has been playing at less than 100 percent this season with various undisclosed injuries.

It began when he was banged up in the opening 49-16 loss at Notre Dame and has continued throughout the year. Despite his physical limitations, it appears as if Armstead will play through the injuries.

After Saturday’s 34-10 win at East Carolina, Temple coach Geoff Collins said Armstead could barely walk that Thursday but showed enough courage to play. Armstead, a graduate of South Jersey’s Millville High, gained only three yards on four carries.

Asked during Monday’s American Athletic Conference media call whether it would be more advantageous to sit Armstead and let him heal, Collins didn’t appear to be leaning that way.

“He wants to take care of his body and produce and wants to be a great teammate,” Collins said. “He wants to be on the field playing with his teammates, so bad, and we have had those conversations but Rock (Armstead) wants to be out there.”

Last season as part of a potent duo with Jahad Thomas, Armstead rushed for 919 yards (5.9 avg.) and 14 touchdowns. This season, he has rushed for 246 yards (3.2 avg.) and no touchdowns.

This would appear to be a week to rest any offensive player who is banged up. Temple (3-3, 1-2 AAC) will host Connecticut (1-4, 0-3) at noon Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. UConn is allowing 43.6 points per game after Friday’s 70-31 home loss to Memphis.

Another key running back reserve, Jager Gardner, is expected to be out for the season, but in Saturday’s win, Temple had two running backs set career highs for yardage: David Hood rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Walk-on Rob Ritrovato had 48 yards and his first career touchdown on 14 carries. In addition, converted wide receiver Travon Williams lined up as a running back for the second straight week.

So Temple has options beyond Armstead, who when healthy is among the best backs in the AAC, but he hasn’t been close to that level in any game this season.