Temple redshirt junior quarterback Frank Nutile has earned the undying respect of his teammates for his work ethic, his performance and maybe most important, his leadership ability.
On Saturday Nutile will earn his fourth consecutive start when Temple takes on Goliath, a.k.a. Central Florida in a noon American Athletic Conference game at Lincoln Financial Field.
Central Florida (9-0, 6-0 AAC) leads the nation in scoring, averaging 48.6 points per game.
With Nutile as a starter, Temple is 2-1 and is playing its best football of the season, coming off wins over Navy and Cincinnati.
Temple (5-5, 3-3) needs one win either Saturday or Nov. 25 at Tulsa (2-8, 1-5) to become bowl eligible.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Nutile has commanded the huddle. After games and practices he shows great humility, always praising his offensive line, receivers and tight ends, and running backs.
Yet a little-known fact about the soft-spoken Nutile (at least to the media) is how in total control he is of the situation, making everybody accountable, including himself.
And if a player misses an assignment, the quarterback will not so gently let them know about it.
"Frank is awesome and a great leader and he definitely runs the show," said running back David Hoods, who replaced an injured Ryquell Armstead and rushed for a career high 108 yards and a touchdown in Friday's 35-24 win at Cincinnati. "He gets on me sometimes when I am messing up, makes sure I am good and everybody is good."
So as Hood explains, Nutile isn't afraid to let a player have it.
"No, he's not afraid at all," Hood said laughing. "He will let you know if something is wrong."
On the flip side, Nutile will let his teammates know when they do well, but to be a leader a quarterback must alternate between good cop and bad cop.
"He's not afraid to step up and lead and that is the first sign of a good leader is to be willing to put yourself out there to lead," Temple offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said. "Sometimes you won't make as many friends and it is not the most comfortable thing to tell one of your buddies you have to run this route or I need this block, but he has done it."
When approached about sometimes getting in his teammates' collective faces, Nutile explained the importance of doing so.
"I know at the end of the day and they all know it's love and I want to win and it's not me being a jerk or anything," Nutile said. "It is I want to win so bad, these guys want to win so bad that we all try to hold each other to a standard."
In postgame interviews, Nutile takes all the blame for plays that went wrong, another endearing quality.
Behind closed doors, he will do everything possible to help the team win and since replacing injured Logan Marchi has provided the Owls with a major jolt of adrenaline.
"He has great intensity, great character and makes sure everybody is in line no matter if somebody messes up or is having a down game," receiver Keith Kirkwood said. "He is just a great guy and the leader of this team."
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
Central Florida second-year coach Scott Frost shows how much coaching means in college football (or any sport). The Knights were 0-12 the year before his arrival, went 6-7 last season while earning a bowl bid and now are one of five unbeaten Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Frost is already being mentioned as a candidate for various coaching vacancies.
Temple's defensive strength is their safeties Sean Chandler and Delvon Randall and the two hold a major key against UCF. That's because the Knights have explosive receivers, led by Tre-Quan Smith, who is averaging 19 yards per reception and has scored 10 touchdowns.
This will be Senior Day for Temple and the Owls are looking to become the winningest group in school history. This year's senior class has accumulated 31 career wins, tied with the 2011 group for the most by a class.
BY THE NUMBERS
538 — The average total yards per game of UCF, which is first in the AAC and fifth nationally. Quarterback McKenzie Milton leads the AC with 341.1 yards per game of total offense.
12 — The number of turnovers that Temple has caused, six interceptions and six fumble recoveries. Coach Geoff Collins said this is an area that he wants to see improved most by his defense.
27,606 — Temple's average home attendance this season, which is 10th in the AAC. (UCF is No. 1, at 33,872 per game).