D’Wan Mathis earned his spot as Temple’s starting quarterback without much pushback.
The dual-threat quarterback put his athleticism on display and separated himself from the pack in spring camp. Now, with Mathis firmly in place, coach Rod Carey is tasked with naming his backup.
Carey plans to determine the second-string quarterback by Friday, about a week out from Temple’s season opener at Rutgers on Sept. 2.
Offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich believes Temple has a good problem in that department.
“I know this, I feel really good about our quarterback room,” Uremovich said. “And I know everybody says that coming out of training camp, but this is the deepest quarterback room I’ve ever been a part of coaching. There are multiple guys that I would not have a problem with putting them in the game.”
Freshman Justin Lynch, Iowa State transfer Re-al Mitchell and redshirt freshman Mariano Valenti are in contention for the backup slot
Lynch, from Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, played his senior season during the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic before joining the Owls this summer. Lynch, who turned 18 during preseason camp, is one of the youngest players on the roster.
He saw second-team reps during Temple’s only open practice thus far. In that short period, his clean mechanics and footwork were clear to see. He looked confident in pass-rush-option drills along with one-on-one and three-on-three sets.
Lynch also begins his career in Philadelphia with a closer connection to Temple’s coach and system than the other quarterbacks. His high school coach at Mount Carmel was his brother, Jordan, who played for Carey at Northern Illinois University nearly a decade ago and runs a similar offense to what the third-year coach brought to Temple in 2019.
Mitchell joined the Owls last summer, seeing action in three games during their shortened season. He shared time with Trad Beatty after former Temple quarterback Anthony Russo suffered a shoulder injury three games into the season.
The redshirt sophomore threw for 238 yards on 52 attempts overall, with a season high of 107 yards in a 38-13 loss to Central Florida. His only touchdown as an Owl came on an 11-yard pass to tight end Aaron Jarman against Southern Methodist. Mitchell’s season was cut short after taking a helmet to the knee against UCF.
Valenti was forced to redshirt a season ago because of NCAA transfer rules after leaving Northern Illinois. Transferring to Temple reunited him with the staff that originally recruited him to play for the Huskies.
Valenti said his time on the sidelines wasn’t easy, considering that he likely would have seen the field for an Owls team that played six quarterbacks by the end of the year.
Carey said he felt the defense was ahead of the offense earlier in preseason camp and it has become more of a give and take in practice. Now it’s about cleaning up the execution on both sides of the ball, he added.
The decision on a backup quarterback could be made for Thursday’s mock game, a practice that looks more like a game-day simulation. But Carey’s self-set deadline is the end of the week.
“We’re going to make it for sure by Friday. It might be done before that,” Carey said. “We’ll see how tomorrow goes and then kind of lay that out to see if we need a little bit more time, but I want to have that set by Friday.”