The Temple football team still hasn’t scrimmaged in practice, and it could affect whether they play their opener on Sept. 26 at Navy.
That was the take from coach Rod Carey, who said he and his program are adhering to the City of Philadelphia’s COVID-19 policies. Under the policy, scrimmaging is not encouraged.
“It is a pandemic, I get it, and the city has to do what the city does and we are going to adhere to those policies, but the longer this goes, the more the 26th becomes in jeopardy,” Carey said on Friday during a Zoom media call. “And I have to look at that because there is an element of football shape that you just have to get into and there is no other way to do it than under practice.”
Not being able to have a normal practice has cost Temple chances at possibly scheduling non-conference games. The American Athletic Conference has its teams playing eight AAC games and as many as four non-conference games. The Owls’ four non-conference games were canceled.
Temple has been in a lot of conversations with schools about non-conference games, according to Carey, but it hasn’t been able to commit, not knowing when contact practices can take place.
Temple talked to Pitt about playing a game, according to multiple sources. Pitt, which had a Sept. 12 date open, has filled it with visiting Austin Peay.
Temple is allowed to practice in groups of 50, which includes coaches, trainers, and support staff. There can be different sets of 50 on the same field, but social distancing has been enforced between the groups.
Carey was asked if these are recommendations or mandates from the city.
“My understanding of it through our liaison from the city is that these are the policies that the city has in place,” Carey said. “And I’m sure one of the questions will be, ’Well, the Eagles are practicing,’ and I’ve talked with Coach [Doug] Pederson, and they are. They have had different conversations with the city.”
There are also different procedures when it comes to COVID-19 testing. Temple tests its football players once a week. According to the NFL Players Association, on Aug. 12, it reached an agreement to continue daily testing through Sept. 5.
Carey was asked how much full practice time he would need to get ready for Navy.
“I feel like we need three weeks, like where it is fall camp mode, and then you can do a game week, so you are really looking at like a month of really getting them, because they are getting back in shape, they are not there yet ... but to really take that next step and get over the hump and in shape, you have to do football.”
While everything is up in the air, it should be noted that Navy and Temple both have an open week on Oct. 10. Could the game be moved back?
Anything is probably on the table, but the first thing for Temple is scrimmaging in practice before it can play an actual game.
An impactful discussion
After practice Friday, Temple had a big gathering talking about social- justice issues.
“I feel that we as a group moved forward today and I was really proud of the guys,” Carey said. “I am learning probably as much as anybody else is on this and it’s probably why I am so fired up because I learned a lot today.”