By: Ari Glazier
Temple football’s locker room was thrown into uncertainty when a COVID-19 case postponed the start of the game against ECU just minutes before the scheduled 12:03 kickoff.
Head coach Rod Carey learned at 11:15AM that a player was showing symptoms. The player went to get tested on campus, but they hadn’t gotten the test results back yet, leading to the delay.
“There were some guys coming up to us [saying], ‘I was in the training room with so and so yesterday’”, senior defensive tackle Daniel Archibong said. “It was chaotic. That’s kind of how this year’s gone.”
Despite the exhaustive COVID-19 prevention measures in place this season, Carey said he had never discussed a scenario like this.
When the test came back positive, five players, George Reid, Christian Braswell, Kimere Brown, Arnold Ebiketie and Nate Wyatt, were added to the COVID-19 protocol inactive list due to contact tracing, joining three players who were already on the list.
Carey, who made it clear in his press conference last Monday that he felt Temple’s last three games should have been postponed because of how shorthanded they were, said he was “shocked” by the decision to still play the game.
Temple was already down to their fifth string quarterback, news they had received just hours before the game, and missing other key players across the board.
Carey maintained that going into a game with so many players absent poses a serious risk to the players still active.
“When you have one quarterback left on your roster, and different areas are so thin, then it becomes a safety issue,” Carey said. “I voiced that. My first job is to make sure we’re safe. “
Despite the game’s tenuous status, Carey instilled as much focus as he could into the locker room.
“He kind of just said, ‘We may get canceled, we may not, so just keep you head in the game’,” Archibong recounted. “We weren’t sure if we were gonna play or not. That’s the mental battle, we’re suited up, we’re about to go out there in five minutes.”
Once it became clear that the game was going to move forward, Carey met with ECU coach Mike Houston to determine the time, settling on 12:50, with five minutes of warm up time slotted in.
The pregame debacle made for difficult circumstances to play a football game to say the least, but Archibong isn’t making any excuses for the 25 point loss.
“We’ve still gotta come out, and we’ve still got to perform,” Archibong said. “Just because we lose guys, we have the possibility of getting canceled- the mental battle is one that we should’ve won, and we didn’t.”