From redshirt to starting quarterback
This was never part of the game plan. Then again, neither was losing their first five games.
So the P.J. Walker era at Temple begins with the Owls taking on Cincinnati (3-2) on ESPN Friday night with a true freshman at the helm.
“P.J., over the course of the last 4-5 weeks has gotten better and better,” said Temple coach Matt Rhule, who starts his third quarterback of the season. “We feel like it’s his time now to go out and play. Now Connor has to wait for his time.”
Junior Connor Reilly has had his moments, but inconsistency — coupled with a nagging ankle injury that limits his mobility — forced Rhule’s hand. Juice Granger, who started against Fordham, before Walker made his debut, is taking snaps at tight end.
That has forced Walker, whom Rhule originally planned to redshirt this season, to grow up in a hurry.
“We think he’s going to be dynamic,” said Rhule. “We made the decision that we didn’t want to play P.J. too early because the worst thing that can happen is you can play somebody too early and they can lose their confidence. That can especially happen with a quarterback.”
Walker concedes it took him awhile to feel comfortable. He’s gone 11-for-22 for 195 yards and a touchdown with one interception so far.
“I didn’t pick up on the system as fast as I thought I would have,” said the 6-foot-1 Elizabeth, N.J. native. “I thought it was going to be much easier, but it’s not. It’s a lot harder than I expected.”
But Walker feels he’s ready now, saying all he wants to do is his part.
“After last Saturday, I don’t feel like a freshman anymore,” said Walker, who uncorked a 58-yard strike to Robby Anderson. “Now I’m just trying to win games and play well. I just want to help the team win.”
Now that the P.J. Walker era is set to begin Matt Rhule and the rest of the Owls are crossing their fingers that shouldn’t take too long.