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Temple said it has no quarterback controversy — but D’Wan Mathis and Justin Lynch will share snaps

Mathis remains the starter, but Lynch will enter the game at times to “take some hits off of D’Wan.”

Temple Owls quarterback D'Wan Mathis looking to throw the ball against UCF on Saturday.
Temple Owls quarterback D'Wan Mathis looking to throw the ball against UCF on Saturday.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

Rod Carey has made it clear that Temple football does not have a quarterback controversy.

D’Wan Mathis was named the team’s starter back in April and will continue to be as long as he stays healthy. But Justin Lynch, who has thrown at least one pass in seven of the Owls’ eight contests, is expected to see situational reps moving forward, according to the third-year coach.

“We want to use him more. We just didn’t get in those situations where we wanted to use him in the first half as much,” Carey said following Saturday’s 49-7 loss to Central Florida. “Just because he has an element of his legs that’s a little different than D’Wan’s.”

Carey indicated that could be somewhere in the ballpark of 10 to 15 snaps per game.

“If I’m being honest, I can run the ball just as well as Justin,” Mathis said postgame. “So I really don’t know, honestly. Whether he’s doing that to take hits off of me, I don’t know. I haven’t talked to Coach Carey about it yet. I can talk to him and see what he says.”

Carey amended his previous comments during Monday’s meeting with reporters, confirming Mathis’ suspicion that Lynch’s increase in reps is to “take some hits off of D’Wan.” It’s something he’s done before and expects to do more throughout the season.

The earliest instance of Lynch checking into games came when he made an abrupt entrance in Temple’s 34-31 win over Memphis on Oct. 2.

The freshman ran a designed quarterback keeper on third-and-goal but was stuffed just shy of the goal line. Mathis came back in on the ensuing play, throwing a touchdown pass to redshirt junior receiver Jadan Blue.

That was likely a decision to protect Mathis’ healing ankle and try something different.

Based on Carey’s explanation, Lynch’s snaps will be few and far between, which is different from Temple’s decision to mix it up under center the last two seasons.

In 2019, then-backup quarterback Todd Centeio took the field in certain packages behind Anthony Russo to add a dual-threat presence to the Owls’ offense. Last season, with Russo out because of injury, second- and third-string quarterbacks Trad Beatty and Re-al Mitchell alternated possessions in consecutive games against Tulane and SMU until one got a hot hand.

This is nothing like either instance.

“Whatever I’ve got to do to be a good teammate right there, keep him going,” Mathis said. “I know he’s a young guy. Whatever I can teach him or whatever we’ve got to do. I’ve just got to step up. Whatever my role is, keep playing my part.”

While the Georgia transfer’s role as starting quarterback is by no means in jeopardy, following the loss to UCF he spoke vaguely — but in no way maliciously — about not having the authority to check out of plays at the line of scrimmage.

“That’s not my job. It’s not my job to call plays. It’s my job to go out there and execute what’s called,” Mathis said. “So as long as [offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich] calls whatever he calls, I’m just going to try to make it work.”

It’s not uncommon in college football for quarterbacks, especially younger quarterbacks in new systems, to have less command from the line of scrimmage.

When asked whether he can share what he sees on the field with Uremovich or Carey, Mathis said, “I mean, sometimes… but I don’t really have that luxury.”

“We talk all the time,” Carey said in response to Mathis’s comments. “We are in communication. Every offense has situations where you cannot check out and where you can. And we talk and we get his input and he gets our input all the time. I don’t know how I can put that any clearer. There shouldn’t be a gray area in that.”

Mathis’ statement didn’t come across as an attack on his coaching staff, and Carey’s response seemingly put to rest any confusion about the line of communication.

There are understandable frustrations from the starting quarterback and head coach of a 3-5 team that has lost by a combined 111 points over the last three games. But Mathis remains the starting quarterback and it’s reasonable to expect Lynch to see periodic snaps.

“We’ve talked about it with [D’Wan],” Carey said. “They’re together on it and we’re together on it.”