Temple’s Hennessy, Nutile value North Jersey bond at college level

WRITTEN BY: TOM HANSLIN  @tomhanslin

PHILADELPHIA – Matt Hennessy never envisioned that he’d one day be blocking in the trenches for a team quarterbacked by Frank Nutile. That job belonged to his brother.

Hennessy, who was high school teammates with Nutile for two seasons (2010-11) at Don Bosco Prep in northern New Jersey, didn’t see much playing time as a freshman and sophomore offensive tackle. Instead, he watched his older brother, Thomas, serve as the Ironmen’s long snapper on two teams that won consecutive state championships with Nutile at the helm.

Now, Nutile is taking snaps under center from the younger brother at Temple, and for Hennessy, it’s reassuring to be able to play alongside a familiar face.

“It’s weird being here now,” the redshirt freshman told WHIP Radio of his relationship with Nutile, a redshirt junior, following practice on Tuesday. “I don’t really think about it too much, but off the field we’ve joked about it. It’s pretty awesome. Since the spring in camp, Frank’s performed really well, and he has good command of the offense. He’s fun to work with.

“He’s extremely competitive, extremely tough, and he’s easy to work with because he’s selfless. So, it makes it more enjoyable and easy for everybody else. Having a lot of Jersey guys on the team overall has been nice. It all kind of feels like home.”

Nutile, who will be the Owls’ starting quarterback for a third consecutive game this Friday night on the road at Cincinnati (7 p.m. kickoff, ESPN2), also values the Don Bosco bond he shares with Hennessy.

“[Hennessy’s] one of the hardest working guys in the facility. He’s a real tough dude, a real hard worker,” Nutile said. “And having him at center, being such a smart guy and so focused, it’s great. We have a pretty good rapport, with us going to high school together. And I think we feed off each other pretty well. He’s a great leader, a great dude, and an awesome guy to have blocking for you.”

 

TWO MORE WINS FOR A BOWL?

With three regular season games remaining, Temple (4-5, 2-3) will need to win twice to obtain bowl eligibility for a fourth straight year. Although that doesn’t guarantee them an invitation to a postseason game, six total wins remains the magic number.

On Friday night, the Owls will have no margin for error against Cincinnati (3-6, 1-4), as a loss in Ohio would most likely put their season on ice. A loss wouldn’t eliminate Temple, but they would then need to defeat No. 14 Central Florida at home and Tulsa on the road.

“The next three games will be Cincinnati’s Super Bowl as well as ours,” Temple defensive end Sharif Finch said. “We are fighting for our lives to get to a bowl game. They have to win every game and we have to pretty much win every game, so they will definitely bring their best and we definitely will bring ours.”

 

BRYANT’S BACK

Temple wide receiver Ventell Bryant didn’t play in last weekend’s game against Navy due to what head coach Geoff Collins called “an internal matter.” But the junior will be on the field Friday against the Bearcats.

“We’re excited about [Bryant’s return],” Collins said in his weekly press conference at Temple’s practice facility on Tuesday. “He has done a great job this week. Great attitude. He has been flying around, made some really good plays for us. We’re excited to see him play Friday.”

 

MARCHI STILL BANGED UP

For a third consecutive week, Nutile will start in place of the injured Logan Marchi, who is still battling through a foot injury.

According to Owls’ offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude, Marchi or Anthony Russo will serve as a backup to Nutile on Friday.

“[Marchi’s] still banged up a little bit,” Patenaude said. “He can’t really run. His foot is still bothering him a little bit. He has looked good. He’s getting his timing back. He has thrown a lot of good balls this week. He’s shaking the rust off.”

 

OTHER NOTES

-Both Temple and Cincinnati rank last in the American Athletic Conference in points per game. The Owls are averaging 23.3 points, and the Bearcats are averaging 20.6.

-In two games as Temple’s starting quarterback, Nutile has completed a combined 42-of-59 passes for 579 yards, five touchdowns, and an interception.

-Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore has completed 55.7-percent of his passes this season. He’s also thrown for 1,959 yards and 13 touchdowns.

-The Bearcats’ leading rusher is Gerrid Doaks (83 CAR, 500 YDS, 2 TD), and their leading receiver is Kahlil Lewis (48 REC, 444 YDS, 4 TD).

-Cincinnati is allowing 30.9 points and 409.6 yards on average.

-Owls’ defensive lineman Freddie Booth-Lloyd will wear No. 1 this week.

If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at thanslin@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.