By Tom Dougherty, CSNPhilly.com
Temple center Kyle Friend, who didn’t practice Tuesday, will not play Friday night against the 1-7 SMU Mustangs in Dallas.
Friend was seen walking around with a noticeable limp and a knee brace during practice. Head coach Matt Rhule said Friend will be “out for a while.”
“That’s a significant injury for us,” Rhule said. “Brendan McGowan got in the game (Saturday). He played well. He’s got 13 starts in his career. We’re very confident in McGowan going in.”
On a 3rd-and-2 during the Owls’ first series of Saturday night’s 24-20 loss to No. 8 Notre Dame, Friend was slow to get up after running back Jahad Thomas ran for no gain.
The senior was able to walk off the field and came back out for the next series. Friend finished the game for No. 23 Temple (7-1) despite his coach’s attempts to take him out.
“Kyle is absolutely amazing,” Rhule said. “I said, ‘Hey, you can’t go?’ And he just kept playing, kept saying, ‘It’s not that bad. And then you find out (Tuesday) it’s an injury for a while.”
For Friend, his streak of 41 straight starts, which was the longest on the team, and 43 consecutive games played will be snapped Friday night.
Rhule did not disclose Friend’s injury, but did say it’s likely he’ll be out a couple of games.
“We don’t really know how long because each guy heals differently,” Rhule said. “But Kyle’s toughness, his passion, it’s inspiring. He was in here last night.
“The coaches, we draw up every run and every pass. We’re here really late and he came in (Monday) night. He just wants to be a part of the team.
“He actually drew up all the protections for me, which was nice,” Rhule continued. “I got a little break last night. But that’s just the kind of guy he is. He was out here coaching today. He’s special.”
Quarterback P.J. Walker called Friend’s absence a “big loss” for Temple. Friend anchors the offensive line, but Walker is confident McGowan will do an adequate job filling in.
McGowan, a redshirt junior, is 6-foot-4, 300 pounds. He started at right guard last season before moving over to left guard in Week 9. He missed the final two games because of an injury.
Still, does not having Friend make Walker nervous?
“See, that’s my thing,” Walker said. “Last year or the year before, I would be a lot more nervous, but me knowing I can pick up protections and do things like that, I’ll be fine.”
More banged-up Owls
Thomas, who injured his ribs in the fourth quarter Saturday night, is questionable for Friday’s game against SMU.
After the Notre Dame game, Thomas said he wasn’t 100 percent but also pointed out that no one is at this point of the season.
How’s he feeling three days later?
“A little better, but still banged up,” Thomas said. “Trying to get my body back as healthy as I can. I took a little shot falling on the ball and then after the touchdown I fell on it a little bit.
“It’s bothering me a little bit, but I’m getting treatment. Just trying to get my body back as close to 100 percent as possible to be able to go out there and play Friday night.”
Defensive end Nate D. Smith, wide receiver Ventell Bryant, cornerback Tavon Young and offensive lineman Dion Dawkins are all questionable for the SMU game.
“We’re not sure if they’ll be able to play on Friday night or not,” Rhule said. “We’re getting a number of other guys ready. We have a lot of depth at a lot of those positions.”
Freshman tight end Kip Patton, who has 10 catches for 160 yards this season, will not travel with the team to Dallas and is out Friday night because of academic and disciplinary reasons.
“Nothing serious,” Rhule said. “Just has a hard time staying awake right now. We have a standard set and he has not met it.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: See the story on CSNPhilly.com)