WRITTEN BY: TOM HANSLIN @tomhanslin
PHILADELPHIA – If Notre Dame’s recent annihilation of Temple left the impression that the Owls lacked their signature toughness and grit in South Bend, refrain from mentioning that to Michael Dogbe.
The reshirt junior defensive end — who was not expected to play a single snap against the Fighting Irish on Saturday afternoon — was thrown in at the deep end due to a pregame injury to starting defensive tackle Freddie Booth-Lloyd, and wound up playing over 40 snaps in Temple’s 49-16 loss at Notre Dame Stadium.
While Dogbe’s performance did not necessarily stand out on the stat sheets — as he recorded just two tackles — his effort was lauded by Owls’ head coach Geoff Collins, who vocally expressed those feelings on Tuesday.
“Michael Dogbe, I thought was a hero on Saturday,” Collins said during his weekly press conference at Edberg-Olson Hall. “He gave up himself for the betterment of the team, and for that honor, he’s gonna wear jersey No. 1 this week.
“What Michael Dogbe did, that was special. There are very few places I’ve been where a kid would do that for his teammates. He could’ve gotten hurt worse, but he didn’t care because he cared about his brothers and he knew we were gonna be short at the defensive tackle position.”
Before making the announcement, Collins consulted with wide receiver Ventell Bryant, who had worn No. 1 since last season’s opener. According to Collins, Bryant agreed that Dogbe deserved the jersey number, and the 6-foot-3 junior is expected to wear No. 19 against Villanova on Saturday.
“I thought it was a selfless act by Ventell,” Collins said. “I know the kind of kid Ventell is, and I’m sure we’re going to see him back in that number this year.”
In short, Dogbe was honored by the team’s kind gesture.
“It means a lot that the coaches decided to give me the single-digit,” Dogbe said following practice. “It represents a lot: toughness, leadership, and for me to be able to represent that this week is an honor. [Coach Collins] had explained to the team how we have a weekly No. 1. Whoever gets it is the tough player for the week. And he called my name. It was a surprise to me, but an honor at the same time.”
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi has not been confirmed as this week’s starter, but Collins was pleased with how he practiced on Tuesday, and hinted that Marchi will see the bulk of the snaps again against Villanova.
“It felt good to finally play. I felt good, felt confident,” said Marchi, who completed 19-of-35 passes for 245 yards and two scores against Notre Dame. “I missed a lot of throws, couple reads that I’ve got to hone in on. It’s definitely a learning experience. [Villanova] is good up front. They twist a lot, they’re a good defense. You can see on film that they’re a very confident team.”
“It’s been a long jounrey,” Marchi said. “I’ve definitely fought through a lot of adversity getting here. It feels good to fight throught that and feel rewarded in the position that I’m in now. Being able to go out with those guys and play each week is an honor enough.”
Ventell Bryant, who did not travel with the team to South Bend due to a lingering hamstring injury he suffered during training camp, will play against the Wildcats on Saturday, according to Collins. Bryant was Temple’s leading receiver in 2016, as he collected 895 receiving yards on 54 receptions for four touchdowns.
On Saturday night, Bryant took to Twitter (@iamvb_87) to express his disappointment in missing the game, tweeting, “That game was on me” and “That one hurt to watch, but I’ll be ready next week. #BounceBack.”
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