Ryquell "Rock" Armstead came off the field after tackling a Tulsa kick returner and ran by his head coach. No words were exchanged, just a low five.

That's not a big deal unless you understand what Armstead already had done. Running for 108 yards, taking the ball 24 times, scoring one TD from 22 yards. Getting out there on defense for four plays when Temple's coaches decided they had to change things up, so they sent Armstead out there to spy on Tulsa's quarterback.

One time, Armstead spied him right into his arms, becoming only the third NCAA Division I player since 2000 to record 100 yards rushing and get a sack in the same game.

Let's guess the other two guys didn't tack on a kickoff tackle.

According to Armstead, the usual words from his coach, Geoff Collins, as he heads out for defense or special teams are simple and direct: "Get 'em, Baby Rock."  It's their little mantra.

After Temple's 31-17 victory last Thursday, getting the Owls to 2-2, Armstead was named the team's offensive player of the week. He also joined an honor roll for the Paul Hornung Award, which goes to the most versatile player in college football.

"A lot of the third downs that they were converting was just that quarterback making plays with his feet, getting outside of the pocket,'' Collins said of the Armstead sack. "We finally just said, 'Enough of this,' and we had Rock spy him."

Coming off the field, Armstead didn't know his sack was a sack. Tulsa's QB had scrambled and Armstead didn't realize his tackle was behind the line of scrimmage, so there was a delayed celebration on the sideline.

You might think his conversion to double duty began because injuries hit Temple hard at defensive end. In fact, Armstead said, it was more like the opposite. In the spring, Temple had some injured running backs, so some linebackers began training at the position.

Hey, if star linebacker Shaun Bradley could get a play or two on offense, Armstead, 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, wanted to play some defense.

"It started as a joke,'' Armstead said.

Except Collins and defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker devised a scheme for him. It's their Prowler set. Armstead is called the joker.

"The nature of that deal, you can't pigeonhole it into a position — it has its own name,'' Thacker said. "He's going to be in a different spot on every single down. We're going to marry up some coverages where he can drop into pass; most are going to be pressures where he'll be part of the pressure."

Thacker was easily sold on the tailback.

"He has an urgency to him,'' Thacker said. "He has an explosion, he has a short-area burst, and then he's just violent when he gets there. It's kind of how he runs the football. He has a defensive mentality, a toughness, and when he gets there, something's going to happen."

Last season, receiver Keith Kirkwood, now on the New Orleans Saints practice squad, similarly got a little time at defensive end and made some plays for the Owls. Showing NFL teams some versatility is part of what Collins sells his guys. For Armstead, it was an easy sell.

"It's like a different energy on defense,'' Armstead said. "I"m more locked in. It gets me going for the game, actually."

He actually had been recruited to Temple originally as a safety, except a big senior year at Millville High changed the minds of Owls coaches, moving him to tailback. He came in as probably the least heralded of three backs in his freshman class. That didn't last long, though. He's now up to ninth on Temple's all-time rushing list.

When Collins got to Temple before last season, did the head coach have to take some time to figure out what Armstead was all about?

"Yeah, absolutely,'' Collins said. "Rock is a young man who is very guarded. He needs to build trust. He needs to be able to trust you to let him in. I think he always worked hard; he's always tough. But he always wanted to make sure that the coaching staff was real, that we were real with him."

These days, Armstead doesn't just sit down on the bench when the Owls offense gets off the field. He admits to staying by the coaches purposefully. How much does Thacker feel Armstead's presence close by?

"Ryquell likes to make suggestions as to which personnel grouping we have on third downs,'' the defensive coordinator said, laughing. "We take that with a grain of salt. We're going to do what's best for the team. But it's him in a good-natured way lobbying to get on the field. It's definitely not in an insubordinate way."

There's no pressure adding these defensive responsibilities, Armstead said, since his head coach doesn't put any on him.

"He told me, 'If you get 'em, good job; if not, who cares,' " Armstead said. "I take that to heart."