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NCAA Football American Athletic ConferenceTemple Owls

Connor Reilly Taking Charge of Offense for Temple Owls in Spring Practice

Howard Smith – USA TODAY Sports

First year Temple Owls head coach Matt Rhule inherited a team in the midst of a quarterback competition. Spring practice was supposed to be a battle between two experienced signal callers with some also-rans jockeying for backup roles with the No. 2 unit. It turns out that the quarterback derby at Temple isn’t that cut and dry, however, as former darkhorse candidate Connor Reilly has overtaken the favorites and is firmly entrenched with the No. 1 offense.

When spring practice opened, everyone assumed that the quarterback competition would be decided between seniors Chris Coyer and Clinton Granger, the two experienced 0ptions under center. The pair accounted for 1,316 yards passing and 10 combined touchdowns in 2012 and Rhule expected to choose his quarterback from the two of them. That hasn’t been the case, however, as Reilly has come on strong and showed the playmaking ability to overtake the more experienced duo of Coyer and Granger.

Reilly hasn’t made much noise at Temple during his collegiate career, having never even attempted a pass heading into his junior season, because he was not a great fit for the true spread offense that former head coach Steve Addazio ran. He has the tools to be an excellent drop-back passer, but lacks the ability to run with the football. Rhule admits that in the offense he plans to run next season, though, Reilly can do enough athletically to be successful.

And his playmaking this spring has really forced the issue. The junior is completing passes with regularity and moving the offense with ease. Every day, he’s created a big play during scrimmages and really kicked down the door to the starting job and taken command of it. After one week of spring ball and the team’s first big scrimmage, Reilly is firmly in control of the No. 1 offense.

He has a long way to go before he wins the job outright for next season. Coyer and Granger will likely dig deep to respond to the inexperienced Reilly making a play for their jobs and put together strong finishes to the spring practice session. However, if Reilly continues to display the playmaking and leadership that he has so far for the rest of spring and into fall camp, then expect the darkhorse quarterback candidate to run away with the starting job for 2013.

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