One person who has benefited from Temple having its football season delayed is graduate school offensive lineman Vincent Picozzi.
Temple will open its season Saturday at Navy in a 6 p.m. American Athletic Conference matchup and Picozzi will be ready after taking an unexpected two weeks off from practice. Picozzi had to miss 14 days while in quarantine. During a Zoom interview on Tuesday he said he didn’t have COVID-19, but had to quarantine due to contact tracing.
“It was mentally tough to get through but physically it was good,” said Picozzi, who returned to practice on Sept. 23. “I was fortunate enough to have weights in my room and able to get some lifts in.”
He said it was difficult to get any cardio work in, so he compensated by doing more weight training.
“When I got back, I was a little behind, but nothing that the bike and just running couldn’t fix,” he said.
Picozzi, who began his career as a walk-on out of Lansdale Catholic, quickly became a scholarship player and eventually earned his first start as a redshirt freshman in 2017.
He started nine games last year at right guard before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, he is arguably Temple’s top offensive lineman, having made 28 career starts in 32 games.
On Temple’s first depth chart, Picozzi is listed as Temple’s starting left tackle. Junior Isaac Moore, who started all 13 games last season for the 8-5 Owls at left tackle, is listed as second team.
“Obviously it was a hard decision for the coaches,” Picozzi said. “ … It was somewhat tricky for me trying to get the pass sets down, but finally working on it and getting back to practice was nice.”
During Temple’s practice, many of the offensive linemen play multiple positions. That was the case with Picozzi, but then he continued to impress at left tackle.
“I was playing left tackle right beforehand, and then I had to go into quarantine so ideally, I mean I was behind on getting physical reps so while I was in quarantine I actually got the mental reps as much as possible,” he said.
That meant keeping up with the plays that the team was installing.
“When I got back after the quarantine I just had to get after it and do everything I could to get my sets down, the reps down, looking at blitzes, and blitz pickups,” Picozzi said. “So my confidence level has gone up tremendously over the past couple of days now that I have gotten here in practice so I’d say I’m pretty confident playing the left tackle spot this week.”