By: Chris Kofsky and Sam Cohn
Temple football’s opening day is rapidly approaching.
The Owls are gearing up to face Bucknell University on Aug. 31 at Lincoln Financial Field to kick off the 2019 campaign. Saturday will also be first-year head coach Rod Carey’s game at Temple.
Temple’s matchup against Bucknell will be the first matchup between the two schools since 1970. Prior to that year, the two played for 44 consecutive seasons.
Bucknell will be lead by first-year head coach Dave Cecchini after winning just one game last season.
The Owls are looking for their first season-opening win since 2015 when they defeated Penn State at home.
Carey and select players were made available to the media following Tuesday’s practice. Here are key observations from the Owls’ final media availability before the start of the season.
Anthony Russo will play
Redshirt-junior Anthony Russo will be Temple’s starting quarterback against Bucknell.
Russo, despite suffering a calf injury in practice two weeks ago, will be under center for the season opener, a Temple spokesperson announced Wednesday morning.
The Owls were preparing to start redshirt-sophomore Todd Centeio if Russo was unable to play.
“I’ve never had the game taken from me like that before,” Russo said. “It makes you appreciate practice a lot more… If I’m able to go Saturday, I’m going to go full out. In football, especially at the quarterback position, you can’t go halfway you got to go full out.”
Injuries at cornerback and linebacker
Carey expects junior cornerback Harrison Hand and graduate student linebacker Chapelle Russell to play Saturday despite suffering injuries at practice during the last week.
Carey’s decision to play the two will be based on how they respond at practice leading up to Saturday.
Tight end Kenny Yeboah will not play this Saturday against Bucknell due to injury. Yeboah did not practice this week.
Yeboah is listed second on the depth chart at the tight end position behind redshirt freshman David Martin-Robinson. Redshirt freshman Aaron Jarman will get see playing time this Saturday with Yeboah’s absence, Carey said.
Running back by committee
After losing Ryquell Armstead to the NFL, the Owls plan to use a running back by committee approach for the season opener.
Senior Jager Gardner is expected to lead the group along with freshman Re’Mahn Davis and redshirt freshman Kyle Dobbins. Senior wide receiver Isaiah Wright may see some snaps as a running back.
Senior linebacker Shaun Bradley, who has experience playing running back in high school, didn’t rule out the possibility of receiving touches out of the backfield.
“I might,” said Bradley when asked about playing running back. “It’s a secret I’m not going to spoil anything but I hope I get some carries.”
Gardner is the Owls most experienced running back with 585 career rushing yards on 138 carries. Dobbins and Davis will see their first game action on Saturday.
Wright has amassed 504 rushing yards on 86 touches out of the backfield during his Temple career.
WHIP Radio will broadcast Temple vs. Bucknell live on iHeart Radio. The pregame show will start a half-hour prior to the 3 p.m kickoff.