Inside the Nest Host
Head Coach Rod Carey has said on multiple occasions that COVID and injuries can’t be used as excuses for losses this season. But at some point, there has to be that realization.
Prior to Saturday night's game versus UCF, four more players were added to the COVID protocol list that included Anthony Russo. Temple’s starting quarterback was scheduled to return after missing the past two games with a shoulder injury.
With Russo out, all eyes turned to redshirt sophomore Re-al Mitchell, who was making his first collegiate start. But Mitchell’s first two drives ended with two turnovers that both turned into UCF touchdowns, and the Owls never recovered, dropping their 4th-straight game, 38-13.
“Turning the ball over is unacceptable,” Carey said. “I don’t care if you’re a true freshman or if you’re a fifth-year senior, it’s unacceptable. We got to have more ball security.”
Temple (1-5, 1-5) turned the ball over three times on Saturday. Each turnover had its flaws with pass protection and blocking on the outside. With so many players in-and-out of the lineup, several players seemed out of step on their assignments. Several times this season the killer plays have been self-inflicted.
“We always stay positive,” Running Back Tayvon Ruley said. “If we stop beating ourselves we can win games.”
In addition to missing Russo, the Owls were also without starting Wide Receiver Randle Jones, Offensive Lineman Michael Niese and Quarterback Trad Beatty, who was splitting time with Mitchell prior to being injured in last week’s game.
Two more Temple starters were hurt Saturday night, leaving their status for next week uncertain. Offensive Lineman Joseph Hooper limped off the field under his own power, while Cornerback Linwood Crump needed assistance getting off the field after landing awkwardly during a 70-yard reception from UCF’s Jaylon Robinson late in the 3rd quarter.
This leaves Temple without its starting quarterback, running back, a single-digit wide receiver, multiple offensive linemen, its single-digit middle linebacker, and now perhaps one of its starting defensive backs too. And this news doesn’t include the many players on the depth chart who are also out with either an injury or on COVID protocol.
“This team has fought the entire time. It’s just we’re not executing when we’re fighting as much as we need to be executing,” Carey said. “The fight has always been there.”
The Owls continue to push on with the final two games of the season both at the Linc. Temple plays ECU next Saturday at noon on ESPN+, before hosting nationally-ranked Cincinnati on November 28th. But the main concern for Carey might not be who is on the other sideline as much as who he’s got left on his sideline.