Temple began this football season with a new mindset, at least as far as the tight end position goes. The Owls, in recent years, haven’t looked to the tight end much in the offense. Last year, tight ends accounted for just 25 receptions.
Kenny Yeboah, last year’s leading tight end (19 receptions, 233 yards, five touchdowns) became more of a threat later in the season. But in eight of his last 11 games, he had one or no receptions.
Yeboah left as a graduate transfer to Mississippi, where he has 19 receptions for 438 yards and four touchdowns in five games. His replacement, 6-foot-4, 240-pound David Martin-Robinson, started out this season as a bigger part of the offense.
Martin-Robinson missed last week’s 41-29 loss at Memphis due to COVID protocols. Coach Rod Carey said it is all part of contact tracing.
Martin-Robinson also won’t play when Temple (1-2 overall and in the American Athletic Conference) visits Tulane (2-4, 0-4) in Saturday’s AAC game at Tulane.
“He will be out for a few weeks, and hopefully he doesn’t get it,” Carey said on Monday.
Not having Martin-Robinson in the lineup hurt the Owls against Memphis. His replacement, redshirt junior and Purdue transfer Darius Pittman, had two receptions for 20 yards, but he got hurt and Carey said he won’t play against Tulane.
That means redshirt sophomore Aaron Jarman (6-6, 250) is slated to start against Tulane.
Jarman, who has one career catch, a 10-yard touchdown reception last year against Bucknell, has appeared in all three games this season. This will be his third start, since Temple often uses two tight ends. He is technically listed second on the depth chart along with Pittman, behind Martin-Robinson.
Jarman replaced Pittman in the second quarter against Memphis. Nick Picozzi also saw playing time at tight end. Now Jarman is looking to make the most of the extended playing time, especially since he could be more of a factor in the passing game with Martin-Robinson and Pittman out.
“It’s unfortunate that DMR and Pittman [being out] is how I got the start, but it’s an opportunity for me and I am just excited to help my team win and show what I can do,” Jarman said Tuesday in a Zoom interview.
Jarman’s size makes him an asset in the run game, but he is also an excellent athlete, who played basketball and baseball at North Lenoir High in La Grange, N.C.
If Jarman can be a threat and commands more defensive attention, it will open up space for the Owls receivers.
“It helps immensely if you have a tight end that you can use as a weapon in the passing game,” Jarman said. “It creates a bad defensive matchup for the defense, it’s really hard to guard big guys that can also run and catch just like a wide receiver.”
Carey hopes Russo will return Wednesday
Carey said on Monday that quarterback Anthony Russo was having an MRI on his throwing shoulder. While the team didn’t announce the results of the MRI, Carey, on Tuesday in a statement to The Inquirer, said, “Anthony did not practice today, hope to have him back on the field tomorrow.”
Russo, a right-handed thrower, attempted 63 passes in Saturday’s loss at Memphis.
As far as Temple’s depth chart is concerned, the backup quarterback is listed as Trad Beatty or Re-al Mitchell. Both are redshirt sophomores. Mitchell is a transfer from Iowa State. Neither has seen action this season.
Russo has thrown nine touchdown passes and six interceptions for the Owls.
Mitchell is known as a dual threat. But when asked if he would use Mitchell or Beatty in the red zone or on two-point conversions, Carey said not at this point. The Owls are 0-for-5 on two-point conversions.
“Certainly [Mitchell] and Trad are playing well, but I am not ready to put a different quarterback in the red zone with the different things that we have had going on in the kicking game,” Carey said. “Not being successful on two-point plays, I don’t think it has anything to do with the quarterback.”
Temple, which missed a 25-yard field goal and had an extra point blocked on Saturday, will have a new placekicker as Carey said on Monday that Rory Bell will replace Will Mobley.