Highlights from Temple Football Media Day

 Author: David Asch

After a long summer, Temple football players and coaches are finally back in North Philly to begin summer training camp. This is the first time the team will have formal practices since the spring. Temple held its annual media day on Thursday and first-year head coach Rod Carey expressed his excitement to begin summer practice. The Owls will hold their first practice on Friday to start preparing for the 2019 season and their season opener against Bucknell on Aug. 31 at Lincoln Financial Field. Temple was predicted by the preseason media poll to finish fourth in the East Division and seventh overall in the American Athletic Conference. This is the first time that the Owls were not projected to finish in the top three of the East division since the conference was divided into two divisions in 2015. There will be a significant change for Temple this season. The Owls several key contributors and led by a new coaching staff under Rod Carey, who spent six seasons as the head coach of Northern Illinois. Here at the main takeaways from Temple’s media day:

Running Back Questions

Carey is excited with the talent on the team and the depth at multiple positions. Out of all of the competitions, the running back situation could be the most up in the air. At this time, Carey does not know who will emerge to get the most playing time, but he hopes players will so it will not have to be a “by committee” approach. “You’re always going to need two or three guys back there,” Carey said. “You’d like to have one guy separate himself and then have two good backups, we’ll have to see if that goes. There’s enough talent, its availability that has been the question.” Senior wide Receiver Isaiah Wright could see a share of snaps at the running back position. Wright is Temple’s swiss-army knife, seeing playing time at running back and special teams during his career. He could be used that way this season as well, especially if he stands out to be one of the better running backs in the wide-open group. “At times you feel you can’t prepare for [how you will be used],” Wright said. “What I do is just put in as much work as possible. When the time comes, I’ll be ready, especially with the extra hours put in with the coaches.”

Competition will be a theme at multiple positions, not just running back. Carey emphasized that no one already has their spot on the depth chart, so there will be competition for every position. The only time as a head coach Carey has never had a competition for a position was in 2013 when Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch was a Heisman Trophy finalist.

Offseason Gains

Graduate student linebacker Chapelle Russell has spent much of the offseason focusing on his training. He has gained 14 pounds in the past year without adding any body fat. “I feel great right now,” Russell said. “I’m just as fast, if not faster. I’m ready to go.” Redshirt junior quarterback Anthony Russo and sixth-year defensive end Zack Mesday also mentioned their physical improvement this season. Mesday gained 12 pounds and lost 2-percent of his body fat from last season, he said. Russo, who suffered from a soft-tissue injury this summer, will be ready for the start of summer practice and feels like he is in better shape compared to last season. “With our strength and condition program throughout the summer, I think not only myself but the entire team is probably in the best shape we’ve been in a long time,” Russo said.

Perfecting His Craft

Russo had a full offseason to prepare to be Temple’s starting quarterback, which has helped him try to grow, he said. After throwing 14 interceptions last season, his main goal is limiting turnovers. “[Avoiding interceptions] is one of the biggest things I’m emphasizing,” Russo said. “Going back and watching the game film, I try to see, could I have checked the ball to the running back and maybe have gotten two or three yards rather than trying to force the ball that was intercepted? Could I have thrown the ball away and lived to see another down?” Russo has also used his experience to try to grow as a leader on the team. “I have to be a leader on and off the field,” Russo said. “I have to set an example for all the young guys, whether it’s in the classroom getting good grades, making sure I get to study hall or tutoring at the right time, doing extra film, doing extra work out on the field, all that stuff.”

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