Owls coach Matt Rhule had no patience today for his first-team offense at Edberg Olson Hall.
Rhule kicked the first-team offense out of practice today and said he needs to set a standard for how his players practice.
“The first team offense didn’t want to get coached today.” Rhule said. “They were using their feelings and emotions on the football field instead of listening to what the coaches were saying. I threw them off the field and told them to go home for the day.”
Rhule said he has thrown players out of practice in previous years and that he wouldn’t read too much into throwing the first-team offense out today.
“I’ve taken a new approach this year,” Rhule said. “If things don’t go right, I send people home for the day and tell them to take the day off. There’s a standard, if you don’t do it, you don’t get the privilege of practicing.”
Rhule said at the beginning of camp that improving their kickoff returns is a top priority for them before the season begins against Army on Sept. 2.
He added it’s an open competition for the kickoff returner spot and they aren’t certain who will be the starters yet.
But in today’s open practice some of the players returning kicks included, redshirt-sophomore running back David Hood, redshirt-senior defensive back Nate Hairston, freshman wide receiver Freddie Johnson, redshirt-freshman wide receiver Cortrelle Simpson, redshirt-freshman wide receiver Travon Williams and redshirt-senior defensive lineman Haason Reddick.
“[Reddick] asked if he could do it, so I’m letting him try it,” Rhule said. “We have an open competition. He wants to do it. He takes it really, really seriously, he’s out there everyday… he’s not the returner yet, I’m not sure who is.”
Hood is only member of the Owls who played kick returner last season that took reps today. Hood returned one kick for 19 yards last season.
“I’m just working towards keeping the spot,” Hood said. “Right now, I’m the off-returner, catching a couple kicks and blocking for the returner. So it’s just a working progress right now. I’m just going to keep doing what I gotta do to keep my position. I definitely look forward to being on the return team this year.”
Preparing for Army
Before the Owls began to practice kickoff returns, they were running simulations of Army’s offense against the defense.
Army runs a flexbone offense, which features a lot motion going on amongst the running backs in the backfield.
Today that offense featured Simpson and Hood taking reps as Army’s quarterback against Temple’s defense.
“Coach wanted the best guys to run Army’s offense against our defense so they can get ready,” Hood said. “I played quarterback and a little bit of slot for Army just to give the defense a look… so we can help win the game on defense. Because if you don’t show it right now they won’t ever get it or they won’t be prepared for it.”
The last time the Owls faced Army was in 2013’s homecoming game, where they won 33-14 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Rhule said freshman defensive back Linwood Crump, redshirt-sophomore defensive back Jyquis Thomas, freshman defensive lineman Karamo Dioubate, freshman running back Tyliek Raynor and redshirt-senior linebacker Stephaun Marshall are out with injuries.
Rhule said none of the injuries will affect the team in the long-term, but it could handicap Dioubate’s ability to learn the scheme since he’s a freshman.
“It sets a true freshman back pretty far,” Rhule said. “Because a guy like Steph Marshall he’s got four years worth of knowledge, experience, I’ve seen him for four years. Karamo was doing really. To be out right now, he’s missing those reps, he’s missing learning having to fight through the toughness of everything. He’s a very tough kid, I really like him. But it’s holding him back right now. So hopefully we can get him back, and get him hopefully ready to play at some point.”