Calm, Cool and Collected

Temple's redshirt junior quarterback Connor Reilly showed pocket presence, awareness, good decision-making and an ability to use his legs as a weapon as he impressed in his first start.

Temple's redshirt junior quarterback Connor Reilly had his eyes downfield and a Notre Dame defensive lineman coming hard and free from the blind side.

It looked like a sure recipe for disaster, especially for a quarterback who hadn't been in live action for four years.

But just as Reilly was about to be pummeled, he deftly stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush, sprinted outside and ran for a first down.

It was just one example among many in a game where the first-year starter showed poise and pocket awareness that belied his experience at the collegiate level during Temple's 28-6 loss to Notre Dame.

Reilly, who was considered ill-fitting for former coach Steve Addazio's offense because of his lack of running ability, wound up carrying 12 times for a team-high 65 yards. He completed 23-of-46 passes for 228 yards and did not turn the ball over against one of the better defenses in college football.

"He proved to everybody he was a competitor, he was running around getting first downs," said coach Matt Rhule. "That's the way I thought he'd play. He's a winner. He's got two years ahead and he's going to be really good. For him to throw for that many yards against a really good defense, I was pleased."

Said Reilly: "I was just taking what they were giving me, they dropped a lot of guys into coverage and I had small windows to throw to. The line was doing a good job pushing the defense out and there was a lot of running room up front."

While six points doesn't indicate a strong performance by a quarterback, the Owls missed two field goals and an extra point and opted against a chip shot field goal in the second half. With a better performance from the kicking game, the offense would have put up 16 points and maybe more if not for a few key drops as well.

Reilly wasn't perfect. He overthrew a couple deep balls and as much as receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick couldn't corral some catchable balls, Reilly missed him once or twice as well. The quarterback also said he didn't read every defense properly.

"There were a few things I know I missed, and coach definitely said I might have died," said Reilly. "But we can definitely only get better from here, maybe allowing the blitz to come and throwing hot."

Still it was hard to expect any more from a raw quarterback making his first start at Notre Dame.

"I think Connor fought hard, he played his heart out and I'm proud of him," said senior H-back and former quarterback Chris Coyer. "His performance is something he can build off of and I think is going to be great for the team going forward."

Reilly said he was pleased with how he protected the ball and how the offense moved the ball, but just wanted to capitalize on more opportunities.

"It wasn't too bad, we definitely have more to work on," said Reilly. "We'll get in the film room and work on a lot. We left a lot of points on the board, and if we (capitalized) it could have been a whole different game. But this team is young and that's where we can build.

"We just have to work on completions, no dropped balls, putting the ball on receivers and managing the game a little better. I got my feet wet, I'm happy about it and we can move forward, grow, and get better."

Owls Daily Top Stories