27 Nov 2020

Home of the NFL Offseason

Temple quarterback Anthony Russo has the challenge to overcome – yet again

Temple quarterback Anthony Russo was a promising prospect entering the 2019 season but shared time in the backfield with back-up quarterback Todd Centeio. Centeio has since transferred to Colorado State, but a new transfer quarterback enters the team with high accolades.

Anthony Russo, a former Elite 11 finalist and the starting quarterback at Temple University, has been one of my guys since I found his tape while summer scouting for the 2019 season. Russo has a stout build, standing at 6’4″ and 235 pounds, and is fairly mobile himself. The thing that I loved most about his game – his touch ball. Russo has a natural knack for throwing deep routes with incredible touch.

Last season, he regressed terribly under new head coach Rod Carey while playing in a new system that works better with a smaller, more mobile quarterback. The team went with a two quarterback system, giving Russo the starts, but using back-up and much more mobile quarterback Todd Centeio as a “spark” player to try and revitilize the offense as it stalled.

The results were mixed. Sometimes it worked out great and the team got moving. Other times, the offense would continue to stall and the quarterbacks would switch again. Centeio often times looked like the better quarterback. He was most definitely the better fit in the scheme, but Russo could open the playbook with his more diverse skill set. Temple finished the season 8-5 after a 5-1 start.

Todd Centeio transferred to Colorado State at the end of the season, giving Russo free reigns in the offense.

Until today.

Re-al Mitchell commits to Temple.

Former three-star dual-threat quarterback Re-al Mitchell announced today, May 21st, that he would be transferring from Iowa State to Temple for the upcoming season. The 2nd Team Academic All-Big 12 prospect from St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, California, a former Elite 11 finalist as well, enters his redshirt sophomore season after two years at Iowa State. He entered the transfer portal in January and took his time about finding a new school to attend.

The dual-threat quarterback appeared in five games last season, getting 12 touches, throwing 4 passes, and scored two touchdowns (1 passing, 1 rushing). He was the backup quarterback to Second Team All-Big 12 Brock Purdy.

Mitchell is explosive, more so than Todd Centeio was on this team last year. It’s hard to imagine Temple not using the two-quarterback system that they used last season.

The challenge that Anthony Russo faces

Russo really struggled last season. While part of the blame is on the scheme, I think another issue that Russo faced was long periods of inactivity.

Russo was sidelined at times last season for Centeio and would go over an hour during some games without taking a snap. You would see him on the sideline throwing footballs trying to stay loose and warm, but it’s hard to go that long at times without taking the field at the quarterback position – especially when you aren’t mobile enough to use that aspect of your game as a threat. What essentially would happen is Russo would cool down, Centeio would come out of the game, and Russo would go back into an onslaught of pressure. Defenses would blitz more when Russo was on the field, knowing that he didn’t bring the athleticism that Centeio had.

Rod Carey thought the system worked well last year, and with his history of coaching, it’s likely that he will continue that system next season. He’s under no real pressure to perform at Temple, other than to win 8-10 games a year.

What does that mean for Anthony Russo?

Right now, I have a Future Impact grade on Anthony Russo. He has tools that the NFL will value, but he’s a couple of years away from being able to start in the NFL. There are other factors to consider, such as his arm strength. It’s good but not great. He’s not very mobile. He’s not going to be a run threat at the next level.

These things hold him back on the evaluation. When you add the fact that his placement is spotty, inconsistency in his technique, etc, you start to realize that Russo at his best is maybe a top-twenty quarterback in the NFL.

The good news is that he seems very positive about the arrival of Mitchell, tweeting a welcome message to his “lil bro.”

Regardless, Russo has another challenge to overcome before he can leave Temple and try his luck in the NFL. He has had a full year of this situation now under him. We need to see him progress, now that it’s his second year in this system, and see a bit more of the guy we saw in 2018, if not stronger and more improved.

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