D’Wan Mathis has been vaunted for his ability to add a new dimension to Temple’s offense.
Much of the Owls’ success this season will be predicated on the play of the 6-foot-6, 200-pound quarterback who transferred from Georgia.
“The amount of explosive plays that D’Wan was able to create in a short amount of time in practice just jumped off the page from the moment we got going,” quarterbacks coach Jake Landry said Tuesday. “For us, it’s an athletic ability where he can extend plays. That’s what stuck out the most to us right away.”
Temple coach Rod Carey had originally thought during spring camp that he might not declare a starting quarterback until late summer, expecting Mathis and Re-al Mitchell to battle it out. But he named Mathis the starter in late April.
Mathis was recruited out of Oak Park (Mich.) High School by the likes of Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa State, and Cincinnati before committing to Georgia. But he was forced to redshirt his freshman year after undergoing emergency brain surgery to clear the fluid buildup around a cyst.
The following season, he made his first collegiate start in the Bulldogs’ season-opening win at Arkansas. After Jake Fromm’s departure for the NFL and Jamie Newman’s decision to opt out of the 2020 season, Mathis had beaten out JT Daniels to be named the Week 1 starter.
He has previously said that surgery forced him to relearn to talk and to walk. In his words, it gave him a “next-day mentality,” focusing on getting better each day while not dwelling on one bad practice.
Playing at Georgia also helped elevate his ability to run a pro-style system, which he did under coach Kirby Smart. Mathis said having that experience eased the transition to a new system, applying what he learned at Georgia to his ability to read coverages at Temple.
Landry said fans can expect Temple’s offense to look similar to those of the past with dynamic quarterback run schemes.
The said he was happy with how Mathis has looked, a little more than a week into preseason camp.
“The first day, I think he was probably trying to do too much,” Carey said. “Other than that, when he’s been in there the ball has been going to the right place and the execution is pretty high. I’m pretty pleased with that right now.”
The redshirt sophomore said he’s felt comfortable with the offense since arriving at Temple, which has made his transition smoother.
“We have an open communication system where if it’s anybody, a tackle, a center, a wide receiver, a running back, we talk to each other the same,” Mathis said. “If we feel like we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do, we can all come up to each other.”
Coming from a top-notch SEC program might give Mathis an extra dose of confidence, but he said he just wants to compete to earn the respect of his peers.
Much of that humility and leadership stems from his health issues over the last two years and how much he feels he has matured.
Although Mathis’ performance could certainly move the needle for a Temple team projected to finish second-to-last in the American Athletic Conference, he doesn’t see it that way.
“I look at it as, it’s going to fall on all 11 guys on that field,” Mathis said. “I can’t do it alone. I can’t do it by myself. No matter how many touchdowns I throw that game, no matter what I do.”