The Temple University football team staged its first scrimmage of training camp Saturday, and while it is still early – camp opened just nine days ago - its huge opening game against Penn State is just three weeks away.
Head coach Matt Rhule called the first major proving ground of the summer “really pretty sloppy,” but acknowledged it is a start to seeing who will appear on the two-deep depth chart for the opening game.
“A lot of penalties, a lot of turnovers, defense gave up too many big plays,” said Rhule. “You try to get some idea who will play and build some cohesiveness from here on out. Overall, I was happy with the defense.
“I bet nobody is (where they want to be) right now. We’re on the right path, but we have a long way to go.”
One of the major battles of camp – running back – isn’t much clearer. Rhule said freshman Jager Gardner had a dynamic touchdown run but also noted his young backs have had fumbling issues.
“When you finally get tackled is when you get a chance to see them,” said Rhule. “It’s still a really tight race, which is good because we’re really talented at running back, but it’s still not where we want it to be in terms of knowing who’s the guy.”
Rhule did note there were no interceptions from any of the quarterbacks, and said redshirt freshman Frank Nutile – coming off a knee injury – has looked sharp all camp. While junior P.J. Walker is entrenched as the starter there is a wide-open competition for No. 2.
“They are all still getting reps and hopefully we’ll have a better picture after watching this film,” said Rhule. “The sooner the better for us (to determine a No. 2) just in terms of reps but it’s not clear.”
Rhule said receivers Robby Anderson – returning from a year off for academic issues – and Adonis Jennings, a transfer from Pitt, have looked strong though Jennings has dealt with a minor knee issue. Anderson is likely going to be the team’s punt returner as well.
The coach pointed out safety Delvon Randall as a freshman who had stood out and also noted freshmen offensive linemen Benson Israel and Johvan Israel could play this year. Rhule also mentioned linebackers Chapelle Russell and Daishaun Grimes as freshmen who could fill vital roles.
Senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich said the team is moving in the right direction.
“I saw a lot of great things out there today, a lot of young guys flying around making plays,” said Matakevich. “(Projected middle linebacker) Jarred Alwan had a heck of a day out there. He keeps getting better and stronger every day, and that’s one thing we’ve been doing (as a team).
“We had a bad day earlier this week, but it keeps getting better. It’s on us. We have ourselves in a position to make something special out of this team.”
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