The running back corps combined for 210 rushing yards and four touchdowns during the Temple Owls (2-2) 48-20 win over the Charlotte 49ers (1-3). The quintet of Jahad Thomas, Ryquell Armstead, David Hood, Jager Gardner and Isiah Wright give Temple a lot of options to attack the defense on the ground and through the air. Each back brings a unique skill set to the offense.
“We have so many weapons on offense and so many guys that can make a play,” said Temple quarterback Phillip Walker. “We don’t even play all of our running backs. Jager, Hood, Isaiah, they can all go back there and have a big game at any moment so just the depth we have as a unit. We have to keep going out there and keep competing at a high level.“
Jahad Thomas, who played in his second game back after a thumb injury, carried the ball 15 times for 68 yards and two touchdowns. He once again finished with over 100 all-purpose yards (68 rushing, 49 receiving, 26 return yards).
“I think I played pretty well,” Thomas said after the game. “I’m kind of upset at myself that I had that fumble early on in the game, but I think that I played pretty well today.“
Thomas’s versatility has allowed offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas to be creative with his formations. Thomas has been used in the slot and run routes and even a few jet sweeps.
Besides Thomas, Ryquell Armstead has performed well when he has been in the game. Armstead averaged 6 yards a carry Saturday and also had two touchdowns. Armstead so far this season has run with power, particularly between the tackles. Isiah Wright has been the wild card of the group. Although he has been listed as a wide receiver, he has lined up at quarterback in Wildcat formations, tailback and the slot. His speed gives him a chance to break a big play at any moment. Jager Gardner has primarily played on the kickoff return team but when his number has been called, he has run very well. David Hood is a steady back when he is in the game.
Even though each guy can be the starter at any given point, there is no animosity toward one another. They instead push each other.
“It is very competitive, but it’s more so a brotherhood,” Thomas stated. “We all just go against each other every day and be the best that we can be and it brings out the best in us all the time. I know if I am not doing my job, Ryquell or Jager or Hood can step in and replace me. That’s one of the mottos that our coaches have. Whoever is the most productive is going to play.”
Philadelphia has seen its share of good groups. The Phillies had the Four Aces plus Joe. The Eagles had the Fire High Gang. However, this group of running backs resemble a group of New York Giants running backs that were together in 2008: Earth, Wind and Fire. What do you call a group of five running backs with a different set of skills? Who knows. For now, the Temple 5 will have to get ready for the start of the AAC part of their schedule.