Like all sports teams, COVID-19 has had an impact on the Owls to the extent the coaches can’t release a depth chart
By their nature, football coaches like to be in control and have everything regimented, then along comes COVID-19 and nothing is etched in stone.
From not knowing day-to-day who is going to be at practice to games being postponed or canceled to not being able to issue a depth chart. It’s the new normal that no one likes.
“I would’ve liked it yesterday,” Temple head coach Rod Carey said, on a Zoom meeting with reporters, after he was asked when the Owls would be putting out a depth chart. “I just talked about [it] with both staffs, that is going to be the huge trick in COVID because as soon as we set it, it could change and not by anything that any of us do, just by sheer testing results. So, what we’re looking at doing is creating a group of starters. Normally there are 11 starters on offense, for example, let’s try to get that to 18 or 19 that we feel good [about]. Inside of that, [have] five guys that can play a bunch of different positions and make it very versatile so if something happens it’s not going to knock us out of that game.”
While Carey can't know who will be playing when the Owls kick off the truncated season on October 10 in Annapolis, MD against Navy, his team will be there and be ready.
Of course, it starts at quarterback where graduate student Anthony Russo, from Archbishop Wood, has started for the better part of two seasons but that doesn’t mean the other quarterbacks on the roster (Trad Beatty and Iowa State transfer Re-al Mitchell) won't force Carey to give them playing time even if he doesn't relish the idea of playing multiple signal-callers.
“Our quarterback room is way better than it was last year,” said Carey, “and that’s no slight to the guys that were there last year. Trad’s improvement and Re-al and what he brings has pushed Russo.
“Russo is still our starter but that competition in that room is real.”
Navy is 1-1, after a disastrous week one loss to BYU, the Midshipmen set a school record with a 24-point comeback to beat Tulane 27-24. They will have played their third game of the season – against Air Force – by the time they tee it up with the Owls.
“We try to make practice harder than games,” said Carey, who was 8-5 in his first season on North Broad St., “as far as tempo and hitting and all those things we do.
“They’re not going to have any film on us, we’re going to have film from this year’s team. That’s a positive for us. They have game reps, we don’t. That’s a positive for them.”
The Mids still run the triple-option and fullback
has been leading the way with 155 yards through two games but it was the passing of quarterback Dalen Morris that helped key the comeback against the Green Wave.
“This offense can be very dangerous,” said Carothers, a junior, who ran for 734 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. “When we’re locked in and focused and making all the right plays, we can play with anybody.”
While coaches like things regimented, they also look for positives and Carey found one despite the health crisis.
“That is the biggest difference, in a positive way, that COVID has brought about – we have more time to meet with our guys and install and reinstall and reteach,” he said. “The whole team is playing faster because of it. The comfort level in year two, obviously that helps, and all the extra meetings – huge difference.”
The Owls have won three in a row against the Mids, dating back to the win in the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship game. *
Email Rock Hoffman at email@example.com
TEMPLE OWLS 2020 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
All home games played at Lincoln Financial Field
Oct. 10 at Navy
Oct. 17 USF
Oct. 24 at Memphis
Oct. 31 at Tulane
Nov. 5 SMU
Nov. 14 at UCF
Nov. 21 East Carolina
Nov. 28 Cincinnati
Dec. 5 American Athletic Conference Championship
Go to owlsports.com/sports/football/schedule/2020 For all times and television/radio information