Temple's season opener at Navy has been moved from Sept. 26 to Oct. 10 because COVID-19 restrictions in the city of Philadelphia have limited the Owls from properly preparing to play a game, coach Rod Carey said Tuesday morning.
Because Philadelphia had limited groups to no more than 50 people, last week was the first time Temple was allowed to have 11-on-11 drills, and the Owls ran only 10 plays, according to a school spokesperson. Because the larger drills also require more coaches and staff, the number can quickly rise above 50. Now, it's legally possible for the offense to go against the defense in larger groups, but city officials still recommend the Owls don't scrimmage at all because of COVID-19 concerns. The program is considering its options for the safest way to physically prepare the team, but Carey said in order to play the first game of the season, the Owls need 50-60 scrimmage plays.
"We're not ready yet," Carey said. "I think you saw that yesterday with Navy [against BYU] as well. I'm not indicting anybody at Navy or anything like that. Everyone has these restrictions. Our team has to be safe to play. I'm not just talking about COVID. I'm talking about football safe. You have to practice football to be able to do that. That's where we are, and that's what we saw coming and that's how we planned for this thing. So far so good. Now we have to be able to practice."
The Owls haven't practiced since Friday because Carey gave his players time off for the three-day Labor Day weekend, and they were tested Tuesday morning. The Owls won't resume practicing until those test results come back. Carey said he "saw this coming" about three or four weeks ago and began to compare schedules. He noticed both Temple and Navy had an open date on Oct. 10, and eventually both schools agreed to move the game.
"Obviously I want to play, the kids want to play as fast as we could here, but with the restrictions we're under from the city and the guidelines, moving it back, it's kind of the last chip we had to play as far as getting the team ready to play and getting that time back on our side here," Carey said. "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. Our guys are dealing with it well, and our coaches are, too. We'll be excited to get to work after this pause."
The game will be televised by CBS Sports Network, with a kickoff time of 6 p.m. Navy will play Saturday, Sept. 19, against Tulane. That kickoff is set for noon, and the game will be televised by ABC.