It’s often been said that when a team has two quarterbacks, it has none. Temple is testing that theory, in a small way.

Before last week’s 27-17 win at East Carolina, Temple coach Rod Carey decided to give backup quarterback Todd Centeio a series in both the first and second half, replacing starter Anthony Russo.

Centeio led the Owls to their first points, a 29-yard second-quarter field goal by Will Mobley. In his second-half drive, he led the Owls to the ECU 38-yard line before they had to punt.

Overall, it was an impressive performance: 4-for-5 passing for 45 yards, along with nine carries for 23 yards, including a 13-yard run on his first play that got the Owls offense moving.

The first thought when this happened was that there was a quarterback controversy, but Carey dismissed that. He basically said Centeio has been so impressive in practice and offers such a dynamic option with his running ability that he wanted to get the 6-foot-1, 210-pound redshirt sophomore into the game.

A redshirt junior, Russo (6-4, 235) is a much different quarterback, a pocket passer with a rifle arm. Centeio gives defenses a much different look and something they have to spend extra time to prepare for.

Carey says he will continue to use this strategy when the Owls (4-1, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) host No. 23 Memphis (5-0, 1-0) at noon Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Asked during a conference call earlier this week about preparing for two quarterbacks, Memphis coach Mike Norvell said it will require a little extra prep time.

“To play multiple quarterbacks, we have to definitely be able to account for that,” he said.

One reason this might work for Temple is that the two quarterbacks have always been supportive of one another. Last year, Russo replaced injured starter Frank Nutile in the third game. Russo played so well, that Nutile never got his job back, but he remained the consummate teammate.

Anthony Russo, in action against Maryland last month.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
Anthony Russo, in action against Maryland last month.

Russo has been the same way in praising Centeio.

The Owls offense has been inconsistent this season, and Centeio definitely gave the team a spark. And his presence might have had another benefit.

After Centeio left the game in the first half, Russo led the Owls to consecutive touchdown drives. Russo also led the Owls to a touchdown on the drive after replacing Centeio in the second half.

Coincidence?

“No,” Russo said. “I think we just kind of caught some fire. He [Centeio] went in, helped move the ball, helped get the first three points, which was big for us. I think it was just us finding our rhythm as an offense.”

That brings another question: Is one series per half enough for Centeio to get into a rhythm? Apparently, he doesn’t feel that is an issue.

“I stay ready,” he said. “You don’t have to get ready if you stay ready — that is what they say. You got to keep the juices flowing and bring the juice and go out there and have fun. Football is fun.”

What happens if Centeio plays so well that he gets more than one series per half? Would that affect Russo’s psyche? That is a pleasant problem that Carey will deal with if it develops.

For now, on the surface, this looks as if it will work, two quarterbacks with different skill sets who should make preparing for and playing Temple that much more difficult.