One thing Temple didn't expect to have this season was a quarterback dilemma. Grad student Frank Nutile stepped in last year for an injured Logan Marchi and never relinquished the job. The Owls went 4-2 under Nutile and Marchi transferred after the season.
Nutile started the first two games this year, losses to Villanova and Buffalo. The following week, redshirt sophomore Anthony Russo was told an hour before the Maryland game that he was starting because Nutile was injured.
The Owls played their best game of the year, and Russo shook off an early pick-six to have an impressive first start.He completed 15 of 25 passes for 228 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 35-14 upset of the Big Ten's Terrapins.
Then last week, coach Geoff Collins said Nutile was close to being ready, but Russo ended up starting and playing the entire game in the Owls' 31-17 win over Tulsa. Russo completed just seven of 20 passes and had two interceptions, but Temple had six dropped throws.
Now, as Temple (2-2) prepares to visit Boston College (3-1) in Saturday's noon nonconference game, Collins is saying the same thing once again.
"Frankie is getting better and I think he is really close to being 100 percent," Collins said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
During the portion of practice open to the media, both quarterbacks took reps and Nutile appeared to be running around freely, apparently validating Collins' assessment.
Yet Collins wouldn't name a starter.
Collins mishandled the quarterback situation last year, when he didn't tell his team who would be the starter until a few days before the opening 49-16 loss at Notre Dame. (The public didn't know until Marchi took the first snap.)
The public's knowledge of the present quarterback situation isn't Collins' problem. It is his problem when his team isn't sure who will start.
Russo said he was told early on game day last week that he would start against Tulsa.
Neither Russo nor Nutile were made available to reporters on Tuesday, so all one can do is read the tea leaves in an attempt to figure out who this week's starter will be.
And that clearly appears to be Russo.
Collins was pressed during his press conference about whether Nutile has to win his job back, but the coach wasn't going to reveal his hand.
"At every single position, guys are working for playing time and working throughout the week," Collins said.
That wasn't the case in the spring and preseason practice. Nutile was the undisputed quarterback and there was no competition.
It's true that Nutile didn't play up to his standards the first two games, completing 52.4 percent of his passes for 401 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. Did the injury contribute to that?
Nobody is talking.
When asked about the uncertainty at the quarterback position, Collins disputed the question.
"There is no uncertainty in this organization," he said. "Every single player at every single position has to compete to be above the line to compete for playing time, that is the way it is for every position."