When Temple visits high-flying Central Florida on Saturday, Owls coach Rod Carey hopes that quarterback Anthony Russo can return from injury, but nothing at this early stage is definite.
Russo, a redshirt senior, has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury.
“Russo, all indications are that he is going to be able to practice [Tuesday],” Carey said during his Monday Zoom news conference. “How much he practices will determine if he can play and how he recovers from that practice ... We can practice him now; it’s a matter of you’ve got to push it and see how he responds.”
If he does return to practice, Russo’s progress will be monitored each day. “If he responds well through the week, he’s the guy,” Carey said. “He is our quarterback and our leader and we would be excited to have him back.”
Redshirt sophomore Trad Beatty started the last two games, alternating with Re-al Mitchell, but Beatty was injured Saturday in the first half of a 47-23 loss to visiting SMU and did not return.
Beatty is out this week and Carey said he doesn’t foresee him returning this season. Temple has two games remaining after Saturday.
If Russo is able to go, he will start. If not, Mitchell, the redshirt sophomore transfer from Iowa State, will get the start. Freshman Matt Duncan will be third string if Russo starts and the backup to Mitchell if Russo doesn’t play.
Russo has made 26 career starts. Mitchell, a dual threat, rushed for 66 yards on 15 carries and completed 9 of 18 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown against SMU.
Temple led the Mustangs, 13-10, at the half and trailed by just 20-16 after three quarters before being outscored by 27-7 in the fourth.
“Defensively, I just feel like we ran out of gas in the second half," Carey said.
He said the fact that the offense wasn’t able to have sustained drives in the second half left the defense on the field too long.
One of Temple’s leading defensive players, linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley, will miss his fourth straight game due to injury. Another redshirt senior, receiver Randle Jones, also won’t play this week, Carey said.
Jones had a 75-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the game against SMU. He was hurt later in the first half.
Temple (1-4 overall and in the American Athletic Conference) will have its hands full with Central Florida (4-2, 3-2). The Knights are tied for ninth nationally in scoring offense, averaging 45 points per game.
UCF sophomore Dillon Gabriel leads Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks in passing yards per game at 417.7. He has thrown 21 touchdown passes and two interceptions.