Reilly gets nod as Owls' starting QB

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Temple junior Connor Reilly won the job as starting quarterback over senior Clinton Granger.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Temple junior Connor Reilly won the job as starting quarterback over senior Clinton Granger.
Posted: August 23, 2013

THE TEMPLE football team goes into the season with many unanswered questions:

How will the defense hold up?

How will former Owls assistant Matt Rhule handle his first head-coaching job?

How tough will the American Athletic Conference be?

One big question was answered at the Owls' annual media day yesterday: Junior Connor Reilly was named the starting quarterback over senior Clinton Granger.

"I was smiling," Reilly, who served as the kick holder last year, said of his reaction when Rhule gave him the news. "It was a competition to the very end. Clinton was there neck and neck with me to the very end. Coach Rhule made the decision based on the scrimmage on Wednesday."

Granger, meanwhile, will try to make the best of his situation as the backup.

"It wasn't [what] I expected, but it's something that I can build upon and continue to grow and be the best quarterback I can be," said Granger, who started two games last season. "I just have to stay focused and whenever I am called upon that I will be successful because I have studied and still prepare like I'm the starter."

Ruhle said Granger "put himself in a position that he could start for us, and play really well if he did. But we made a decision that Connor would do the best job for us, so we're going to start him."

Granger said that he was informed of the decision just an hour before the team met with the media at Temple's Student Pavilion. His coaches gave him some wise words, as he may have to be called on at some point during the season.

"[Rhule] said to stay positive because I could be in the game any time," Granger said. "Just be prepared. Never being relaxed and down on myself and not being ready whenever I'm called upon. Just staying within the game, and know my role."

As for Reilly, he has to deal with the fact that in just 8 days, he will walk into Notre Dame Stadium to take on last season's national runner-up as Temple's starting quarterback.

"I'm trying to take a deep breath," Reilly said. "Count to three. Slow things down. It's going to be a great experience, but we enter the field on Saturday, and the ball hits my hand, it's just a football game."

However, the Owls' key to success rests with their defense, and they are confident about it going into the season.

"It really is looking good," sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich said. "We came a long way from last year. Everyone is really starting to jell. Everybody on the defense knows that if you know and do your assignment with all 11 guys, we will be a really good defense. That's what the big focus is."

While Matakevich is a centerpiece on the defense, coming off a great rookie campaign, it is the men in front of him on the line who have been coined the best part of the defense by Rhule.

"I think Shawn Daniels and Levi Brown have been playing really well," Rhule said.

Said Brown: "The strength of our defense is our defensive line. "We have older guys. We have four seniors that could potentially start, and I think we are headed in the right direction.

"Defense," he added, "wins football games."

On Twitter: @AndrewJAlbert01

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