In a departure, new Temple football coach Rod Carey won’t be holding a spring game. Instead, the Owls will hold what is called the Cherry and White Fan Fest, which is basically an open practice.
The practice will be held at the Temple Sports Complex at Broad and Master Streets, beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Carey, the head coach the previous six seasons at Northern Illinois, said it was a matter of preserving the players’ health.
“It started about three or four springs ago,” he said earlier this spring. “I had 17 surgeries, 17 guys on crutches, and we were doing a spring game and I said, ‘I don’t think that is very smart.’ ”
This spring, so much has been about learning new offensive and defensive schemes from the new coaching staff. Carey wants a team that is as healthy as possible heading into fall camp.
“I think getting the work done, getting them ready for the load in the fall is a little more important than maybe expending some of that you built up in a game and risking a little more injury,” he said.
It’s not as if the practices have had a country-club atmosphere, but Carey is intent on keeping his players fresh.
That is why this spring, the veterans have been receiving extended time off. This happens frequently in college football, but Carey has been especially careful in monitoring how much of a load his veterans have.
“I don’t know the exact number, but it is something like 1,500 game snaps,” he said. “When they hit that number, you really want to practice them and just keep them sharp because the muscle memory is built, the detail is built, and when you get somebody who has played that amount, you just have to be smart.”
Carey laughed when asked if he has upperclassmen fighting to get on the field. He said it happens all the time.
No coach minds when a starter is petitioning to play more in practice, but he is sticking with his method.
“One thing I learned is that they guys love to practice,” Carey said.
Nobody lobbies to play more in practice than returning senior linebacker Shaun Bradley, a first-team all-AAC selection last year. Yet Bradley sees the logic in his coach’s approach.
“I like coach Carey’s philosophy a lot,” Bradley said. “He takes care of the older guys and gets the younger guys reps as well. He cuts it back when he needs to cut back, and when it is time to go he lets us go.”
Senior offensive guard Jovahn Fair, a second-team all-conference pick, said he has been given time off this spring, even though he is healthy.
“For me it is a foreign concept to sit out practice, because if you are healthy, you practice,” Fair said. “[Carey] has a plan and he has won before. Coming from NIU, he has won championships, so we trust what he is doing.”
In six seasons at NIU, Carey was 52-30 and won two Mid-American Conference titles while playing in two other championship games.
So there will be no game to end spring practice and Carey hopes it contributes to keeping the crutch count low.