One example that Anthony Russo has arrived as Temple's quarterback occurred Tuesday after practice.
During an interview with the media, several teammates gave him the business, trying to make him laugh and throw him off his game.
"They are quite the comedy show here," Russo said, cracking up.
There is nothing funny about the way Russo has approached his job. At one time, it was speculated that the Archbishop Wood graduate might not see the field much this year. Saturday, he will start for the fifth consecutive game when Temple (3-3, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) visits Navy (2-3, 1-1) at 3:30 p.m.
Russo, a redshirt sophomore, got his break when starter and graduate student Frank Nutile suffered an injury, believed to be to his knee. Nutile, who has not played since the Owls' second game of the season on Sept. 8, practiced Tuesday.
Yet the job, for now, is Russo's. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound gunslinger is coming off the best game of his young career. He completed 21 of 25 passes for 254 yards, four touchdowns (to four receivers) and one interception in Saturday's 49-6 rout of visiting East Carolina.
"Each week, gaining that confidence is a big thing, especially at this position, and just getting comfortable with the calls, what Coach [offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude] is calling that week," Russo said.
When he came to Temple, Russo was known for having a big arm, and he has lived up to that billing. Yet what has helped him reach the top spot are his preparation and attention to detail.
"I still remember being out there when I got here [in December 2016] — I wasn't coaching the bowl game, but I was watching," Temple coach Geoff Collins said Since then, Collins said, he has seen growth in Russo — "the difference in his throwing motion, his confidence, how he handles his life off the field, as well, his attention to detail in the classroom, his study habits, all of those things. The development of a player and the development of a young man met."
Russo says he always prepared as if he were going to be the starter, but those in the program insist he took his preparation to another level since the offseason.
Nutile, in particular, has been a mentor, showing Russo and the younger quarterbacks how to watch film and prepare for an opponent.
Russo learned that no matter how strong one's arm is — and he has one that can make all the throws — games are often won in the film room. And those lessons are playing out on the field. Temple is 3-1 in his four starts, the only loss a 45-35 defeat at Boston College.
"I am definitely happy," Russo said about his game, "but there is definitely room for improvement."
Russo said he doesn't want to get complacent. He praises his receivers, running backs, offensive line, and coaches. Yet he is the one who has put it all together.
"I worked to be the guy," he said.
And now he is the guy who is emerging as a leader on and off the field.
Running back Ryquell Armstead, who suffered an injury — believed to be to his ankle — in the fourth quarter against ECU, didn't practice Tuesday. Collins wouldn't say whether he would play Saturday. "He's healthier and feeling good," Collins said.