Ventell Bryant watched Temple’s opening 49-16 loss at Notre Dame in the solitude of his room, with nobody around.
Bryant had hoped to play in the opener, but was told the day before the game that his hamstring injury wasn’t sufficiently healed.
So he didn’t make the trip and waited until Saturday’s 16-13 win over Villanova to make his season debut.
Bryant finished with seven receptions for 79 yards, including a clutch 29-yard reception on the Owls’ final offensive drive that led to the game-winning 49-yard field goal by Aaron Boumerhi with a minute left.
“It felt really good and I was so happy and felt blessed,” Bryant said about his return. “Last week was tough watching those guys play.”
A redshirt junior, Bryant had 54 receptions for 895 yards and four touchdowns to lead the team in the first two categories last year and tie for the most touchdown receptions.
He said he purposely didn’t seek any company in watching last week’s game.
“I just didn’t want anybody around,” he said.
It didn’t make viewing the game any easier.
“That was really a tough game, seeing the guys out there,” he said. “I know they could have used me.”
And they sure used him against Villanova.
“I made a personal battle to come out and do as much for the team,” Bryant said. “I know they would rely on me sometime this game and I am glad they did that last drive.”
Russell earns start
Redshirt sophomore Chapelle Russell, who played well in a reserve role against Notre Dame, earned the start against Villanova and led the Owls with 10 tackles.
Russell suffered a season-ending torn right anterior cruciate ligament injury last November and has made a strong comeback.
Temple coach Geoff Collins said he made the decision to start Russell on Thursday.
“Through the week of practice, Chapelle had the best week,” Collins said. “…Everything we do is about competing.”
Temple limited Villanova to 20 yards rushing (0.7 average) but the Owls struggled running the ball for the second straight game. They gained 79 yards, averaging 2.9 yards per carry. In two games, the Owls are averaging 2.6 yards per rush.
The running game should be a huge emphasis as the Owls prepare for Fridays’ home game against Massachusetts.