Highlights from Friday’s Temple football media availability

Temple football offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich, quarterback Anthony Russo and tight ends David Martin-Robinson and Aaron Jarman each spoke to the media Tuesday morning after practice, answering questions ranging from a five-wide receiver personnel scheme to the #WeWantToPlay movement which has taken over college football. 

Being more comfortable in the second year of Carey’s offense 

Uremovich – “The guys, first of all, just have a better understanding. In order to execute an offense, the better you understand the whole scheme and what we’re trying to do, the better off you can be in performing your job. So from a knowledge standpoint it doesn’t necessarily mean we have 100 new plays, we’re just gonna be able to run the plays that we run better and it allows us to line up in a few more formations and do some more motions and shifts and trades than we were able to get installed last year. We know our players better and they know us better. When you come in for the spring, you’re trying to get them installed, you’re trying to eval them, you get our 15 practices and then you play two weeks of camp and get ready for the first game. Having gone through a season with these guys, you know what they’re good at and what they’re not. Knowing our players better is a big advantage for me as a play caller and us scheming things and the most important piece to all of it is they know us better. You can’t build a relationship with a guy where there’s mutual trust in six-to-seven months. Those guys know us now, they know our wives, they know our kids, they know we care about them. A more cohesive team off-the-field is always gonna play better on the field. Those guys know us and trust us now and we trust them obviously and that’s overlooked a lot of times in coaching. The value of the relationship with players because when it gets really hard that’s the stuff that matters.” 

Russo – “I’m very comfortable with where I’m at right now. Being in the second year of this offense, last year we were just trying to learn everything and see the style of the offense and how coach Uremovich was calling plays but now we’re all familiar with everything and really get those fine details with pass concepts and different run games and checks at the line of scrimmage so I’m extremely confident in where I’m at right now.” 

Martin-Robinson –  “I really do think we’re coming together. The trust after having a season under these coaches is really starting to build there. We lost some guys but I feel the young guys are really starting to pick up the offense so it’ll be good.” 

Better red zone efficiency 

Uremovich – “The biggest issue that we have to improve on as an offense is red zone efficiency. One of the positives from this quarantine is we’ve had a chance to do a more in-depth, self-scout and quality control to look at ourselves. Last year between the 20s we moved the ball really effectively, as good as some of the other teams in our league, but we really struggled to finish in the red zone with touchdowns and it cost us games. Part of it was play calling, it always starts with that, that’s me. Part of it is execution, that’s the players, and then Anthony had some interceptions down there that we can’t have and he knows that.”

Russo – “The two main things that I’ve done in the offseason for red zone are one, I met with coach U[removich] and coach Harmon. I met one-on-one with both of them separate times and we just went through and watched all of our red zone pass game from last year and what we could’ve done better, what we did well. On top of that, I was taking videos of the film and sending it to the wide receivers saying ‘Hey B-Mack I gotta get this fade more outside’ or ‘let’s get this dig route a little bit more into the back of the endzone’. Just little adjustments and then going out on the field and making those adjustments. That way when the time comes when we’re in that red zone again, we’ve already made these corrections from mistakes last year. For how big our targets are and how versatile some of our slot guys are, we’re too good of an offense to not score touchdowns in the red zone. Last year we kicked a lot of field goals and I think it showed that touchdowns and field goals can be difference makers at the end of a game. We need to be a lot better in the red zone and that starts with me but I think that meeting with coach U and coach Harmon and then talking to the wide receivers, I think our red zone is gonna be where it needs to be this year.”

Martin-Robinson – “We just have to finish in the red zone. We’ll be great between the 40s and we’ll be moving the ball and all of a sudden we just hit a wall. I just think it comes down to discipline and getting reps and building chemistry and making sure Russo can trust me and my fellow tight ends in the red zone when we get to that point. That’s probably the biggest thing to build on. We can get open but as long we trust each other we’ll be alright.” 

Five wide receiver personnel schemes

Uremovich – “We always feel like it’s our job to put the best guys on the field that present the most problems to the defense. That goes for all of our positions. Right now we feel really good at wide-out. Last year we didn’t do this, but this year we have a personnel with five wide receivers. We gotta get our best guys on the field.”

Russo – “I love the five wide receiver sets. I think we have a ton of playmakers outside. I think the one thing that we have that we haven’t had in the last few years is a lot of veteran guys at wide receiver. We’ve got Branden Mack, Randle Jones, Jaden Blue, all these guys that have played a lot of games here at Temple. … Guys like Jose Barbon, I think he’s stepped up big time. Towards the end of last year I remember the Tulane game he had a couple of big third-down catches and Jordan Smith is someone who I personally have been working him all offseason. I’ve been making him lift with me everyday when we have our lift groups because I know how big of a threat he can be. He’s a big, tall receiver with good hands and he runs good routes so I keep telling him he’s gonna be a vital piece of our offense this year. I think those five wide receiver sets, with all the playmakers that we have, I think we’d be crazy not to get as many of them on the field as we can.” 

#WeWantToPlay movement

Russo – “I love it. We do want to play. A lot of people from the outside see this as players don’t know the restrictions and that but I think a point that a lot of guys have been making is that a lot of guys are safer being around here. We’re getting tested once or twice a week. We’re making sure we’re following all the right protocols. I think our training staff has been absolutely unbelievable with keeping us in line, doing our nightly surveys on if we have any symptoms, checking our temperature everytime we come into the facility. I think one of the main reasons why we want to play is that brotherhood. Everybody loves this time of year whether you’re playing or you’re a fan, you get that excitement in your stomach that football season is right around the corner. We’re gonna get to watch these games on Saturdays, NFL on Sundays. This is the first time I  know in my life that this time of year came around and we don’t know and we don’t know if we’re gonna have a season or not. With all the work that guys have been putting in, I know all the work that we’ve been putting in here at 10th and Diamond. We want to be able to showcase all the work that we’ve been putting in, so that’s really our desire to go out and play.” 

Martin-Robinson – “I’m all behind it as long as everyone can be safe. That’s the biggest thing. Not just players but coaches, just everyone involved. Everyone wants to play but we have to do it safely. This year’s been tough for the country but we can find a way.” 

Jarmon – “I’m totally in support of that movement. I want to play and I know a lot of my teammates want to play. Obviously we want to play safely but I would like to play this year. I think it’d be best for Temple and for the country in general to have college football this fall.” \

Other quotables 

Uremovich on Vincent Picozzi and Onasis Neely coming back from injury – “They look both 100 percent. They’re both 100 percent cleared to go, they’ve done everything since we’ve been back and they look good.” 

Russo on weight loss and running the ball more – “I’m 234 right now. They want me at 235, but I’m comfortable anywhere between about 228 and 235 so I like where I’m at right now. I’m gonna keep trying to get my body fat percentage down but I’m comfortable where I’m at right now.” 

“Being a quarterback you wanna have the ball in your hands. I think last year I kind of wasn’t in the best shape of my life, I wasn’t able to kind of be a threat with my legs. My sophomore year I was a bit more mobile and was able to extend plays better. Last year I kind of got away from that because I had my body weight where it shouldn’t have been but now that I’m back in shape and back where I need to be I’m confident in running the ball. After two years, not that I have a lot of carries, being able to get some reps running the ball in games, I’m starting to get more comfortable with it. With how good a run game we have, I think if I can just keep defenses honest with pulling a read option here and there, running a quarterback power here and there it’s just gonna enhance what we can do with our running backs. I’m excited about it. I’m ready to run the ball.” 

Russo on a potential single-digit number – “As a leader and someone who’s worked in this program for the last four years that’s something I’ve always wanted and always been striving for but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter to me whether I’m wearing a single digit or if I’m wearing number 78. It doesn’t matter what I am, I’m gonna go out there with my team and give them everything I have and do everything I can to get us wins on Saturday afternoons. The single digit is a great tradition here and something that I would love to have but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what number I have on my jersey, I’m playing for that name on the front, that Temple T and that’s really all that matters to me.”

Russo on a potential extra year of NCAA eligibility – “I just saw something from the NCAA saying it doesn’t matter how many games we play, we’d still get a year of eligibility. I think that’s the way they should do it because with all the uncertainties, we don’t know if we could go play two games or go play eight games and a bowl game we’re not sure. There’s so much uncertainty for someone like myself this is gonna be my senior year, I don’t wanna go out there and have two or three games and then lose my last year of eligibility just for those games that we’re not gonna have fans, my family’s not gonna be allowed to come see me in the stadium, so being able to get that year of eligibility back is big time and I completely plan to be back in 2021 and play for another year. I’m just getting super comfortable with this offense. I think we’re really starting to click and I think me and coach U enhanced our relationship this offseason and have really gotten on the same page. I really agree and that’s what I think the NCAA needs to do that no matter how many games we play kids don’t lose a year of eligibility and with that extra year I plan completely to be coming back.” 

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