By: Ari Glazier, Photo Courtesy of Temple Athletics
Following a bitter 31-29 loss at Navy in Temple’s season opener, coach Rod Carey hosted his weekly Zoom press conference on Monday afternoon. Carey was candid about the team’s struggles on defense, as well as his own play calling late in the game.
Despite the tough loss, Carey was elated to be back in a one week game-cycle after the long wait for Navy.
“I can’t even tell you how good it feels,” Carey said. “We waited for four months to play a game, all of a sudden we’ve got one in seven days. Are you kidding me, it’s like a kid in a candy store. Even with the things we have to correct, it certainly feels good.”
Here are WHIP’s notes on the press conference.
Carey admitted that fatigue played a big role in Temple’s defensive failures against Navy’s run dominated triple option offense. The Midshipmen went a combined 12-for-18 on third and fourth downs, including a perfect 4-for-4 on fourth downs, while dominating the time of possession with 35-and-a-half minutes of offense.
“The reality is that’s their fourth [game], that’s our first,” Carey said. “Game speed, game reps, they’re used to it, we weren’t.”
Carey said the amount of time the defense spent on the field compounded the issue of high pad levels in tackling, which allowed the Midshipmen to run the ball through the teeth of the Owl defense.
“Every year you come out in the first game, and pads are usually high for a period of time,” Carey said. “What exacerbated that was our pads came down in the game. We addressed it, they got their pad level down, but because they were on the field so long so early, they were tired. And when you’re tired, what happens is your pads come up.”
Despite a few notable hiccups, Carey was pleased with his third year QB’s performance. He noted the redshirt senior Russo’s ability to create offense through improvisation, as was on display in Temple’s first two point conversion attempt when Russo found Jaden Blue in the corner of the endzone after a scramble when none of his early progressions materialized (the play was ruled incomplete after Blue stepped out of bounds). Carey lamented that Russo wasn’t able to do the same on the decisive second two point attempt, but put the blame squarely on himself.
“He has the ability to extend plays,” Carey said. “Would we all liked to have seen him do that on the two point play? Yeah. I would’ve liked to have a different damn call.. That’s not on him, that’s on me.”
Russo was able to make things happen on his feet on planned plays as well, with a career high two rushing touchdowns, the same amount he had in all of last season. Russo carried the ball four times overall for 20 yards.
“He’s 6-4, 235, that’s a big man running down hill at you,” Carey said. “You need that in college football. I don’t know if I’d want to tackle him.”
It’s all quiet on the injury front for the Owls, with every player available for practice by Tuesday including starting RG, junior Adam Klein, who missed Saturday’s game due to an unspecified injury. Klein got the go ahead to practice right before the presser.
Redshirt freshmen Yvandy Rigby and Jordan Magee split time at BUBO on Saturday, after the listed starter Rigby was limited in practice due to injury. According to Carey the two will continue to compete in practice to determine the starter moving forward.
Redshirt sophomore Evan Boozer got the nod at defensive end over the expected starter, Wake Forest grad transfer Manny Walker. Carey said Walker is 100%, and the decision was purely for in game production.
Backup TE Darius Pittman didn’t see the field on Saturday after a tweak cost him most of the week in practice, although he was available as an emergency option. Carey said he hoped to work him back into the rotation over the next week.
As of last Tuesday, the team is able to go inside their practice facility. Previously the Owls were forced to assemble in tents outside the field. They will no doubt appreciate the chance to use the showers after practice.
Carey was effusive in his praise of new starting TE David Martin-Robinson after hauling in five receptions for 72 yards against Navy, the second best on the team. Carey said it was Robinson’s best game as an Owl and called him a “dynamic dynamic dude”.
After a game in which Navy threw just two passes, one of which was a screen, Carey has learned “nothing” about his secondary, especially the corners. The DBs were perhaps the biggest question mark going into the year for Temple, and they will stay that way for another week.
Coming back from a matchup that felt like a “true road game” with just under 4,500 Navy spectators in attendance, Carey is preparing his squad for a very different atmosphere at the Linc, despite uncertainty as to whether there might be a limited amount of fans in attendance after the new PA guidelines on large events.
“I’ve talked in general earlier about fans, but I think we really need to visualize what it’s gonna look like and sound like in the Linc,” Carey said. “I just know it’s not gonna be very many [fans].”