Written by: Cayden Steele
On Tuesday, Temple Football Head Coach Rod Carey announced the decision between Temple and Navy to move the Owls’ season opener to Oct. 10. The team was scheduled to play the Midshipmen in Annapolis, Maryland on Sept. 26, but Philadelphia’s restrictions with COVID-19 have made it difficult to prepare for the upcoming season.
Carey spoke to the American Athletic Conference to see if they could move back the game and the conference helped facilitate an agreement between Temple and Navy. Both teams had Oct.10 available on their schedule, towards the end of last week the decision to officially move back the game was made.
The Owls have been limited during fall camp, at this point they have only been allowed to run 10 scrimmage plays per practice. The reps available are not enough and it’s hard to simulate game speed without live hitting. Unless the regulations change, the Owls will face an impossible task of getting ready for a game.
“The bottom line is the rules and regulations that we are currently under won’t allow us to get a team prepared the way it needs to be prepared,” coach Carey said to the media in his zoom session on Tuesday. “We have to be in that 50 to 60 scrimmage plays (per) practice to get a team ready.”
Another factor in the decision was safety. COVID-19 makes it challenging to keep players safe, but the pandemic is not the only danger regarding player safety. Without normal practices that involve hitting, injuries can happen more frequently.
“I’m not just talking about COVID, I’m talking about football safety and you have to practice football to be able to do that,” Carey said. “We have to be able to practice, to be quite honest with you. If we can’t practice, we can’t play so we’re working on something to get that accomplished here this week.”
With limited live action, the team will be preaching the fundamentals. The first game will not be easy for defensive players because they have not been allowed to tackle much in practice. For now, the unit will try to control what they can.
“There’s going to be missed tackles, the best tacklers in the world are going to miss a couple, but we just hope to do it without egregious miss leverages and eliminating those explosives,” safeties coach Tyler Yelk said.
The Owls are certainly frustrated with the situation, COVID-19 has changed everything about their preparation for the season. Despite the unique circumstances and ever changing scenarios the team is still ready to return to practice this week and get ready for Navy, which is now over a month away.
“I think we’re all a little frustrated to be honest with you, but I don’t know who’s not frustrated at this point, with Covid and the new things we have to deal with,” Carey said. “Our guys are dealing with it well, I know our coaches are too and we’ll be excited to get back to work now after this pause.”
All these distractions and changes could make it a challenge for any team to stay focused, but that’s not the case with the Owls. The team feels they have a mission to accomplish this season. Even with all the struggles, the team is willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to start their season.
“You have to be ready. I just want to make sure my defense and offense, the whole team in general, just stick sight of the mission just knowing what we have to accomplish and knowing what we have to do to accomplish that,” redshirt senior safety Amir Tyler said. Even if it’s just staying in a house all year, not going out, just staying with our team, not even being able to see family till the season over.”