Earl Wolff Runs with First-Team Defense, Clay Harbor Trying Out Wide Receiver

Earl Wolff Runs with First-Team Defense, Clay Harbor Trying Out Wide Receiver

The other shoe finally dropped after Nate Allen’s rough outing in the preseason opener. According to reports out of the NovaCare Complex, the fourth-year safety was replaced in the defense’s top pairing at practice on Monday by rookie Earl Wolff.

Wolff being elevated to the first string at this stage in camp is big news, as it would seem the fifth-round pick is getting a serious look to start sooner rather than later. Patrick Chung remained with the first-team defense, and he probably has one of the two spots locked down, but the other job is still wide open.

Allen fumbled his opportunity on Friday against the Patriots. He took a horrible angle to the ball carrier on Stevan Ridley’s 62-yard run to open the game. He would have been on the hook for a touchdown in coverage had the starting quarterback still been on the field. Generally speaking, he hasn’t looked very sharp.

Allen worked with David Sims in the second grouping on Monday per reports. However, Kenny Phillips was not at practice, as he’s apparently dealing with a quad injury – not sure who would have run third string, though my gut says Sims.

When the unofficial depth chart was released last week, Wolff was at the very bottom. That was reflected in the game as well, as Wolff did not get in until late. It’s a huge jump, going from the seventh safety on the roster to potential starter Thursday versus Carolina in a matter of days.

Also of some interest, multiple reports over the past two have had Clay Harbor working with the wide receivers. The team is still thin there after a series of camp injuries, and Harbor’s fine receiving performance on Friday – three receptions for 47 yards – stood out.

One popular line of thinking is the Eagles will keep four tight ends, and Harbor is in line for that final spot so far. Chip Kelly likes to move those guys around the formation, too, so it's probably important to find out whether Harbor can be more than an in-line tight end. The head coach did mention Harbor is the fastest player at his position, per Reuben Frank:

“We’ve got seven tight ends, and he already knows how to play inside because all the tight ends know how to play the slot,” Kelly said. “He had three big catches for us Friday night. He’s probably the fastest of the tight ends. Until, really, there’s some cut downs and there’s some guys available, we think that the best route for us is the guys we have.

The big news is Wolff though. Chip has downplayed the existence of a true depth chart at every turn, but given Allen’s performance and that he had previously run with the ones all of last week, it’s tough not to read into the change. And given the state of the Eagles’ safeties, it’s not unreasonable at all to assume a rookie has a chance to start there.

Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 76, Seton Hall 46

ap-josh-hart-steal.jpg
The Associated Press

Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 76, Seton Hall 46

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Back at No. 1, Villanova looked every bit like the best team in the country.

The Wildcats — who earlier in the day regained their top spot in the rankings after a week at No. 3 — demolished Seton Hall, 76-46, in a Big East matchup Monday night at the Pavilion.

The win was the fourth straight for Villanova (18-1, 6-1), the 1,700th in program history, and the 47th straight at the Pavilion, setting an all-time record. The previous mark of 46 was established between January 2007 and 2011. 

Leading by 13 at halftime, Villanova put its foot on the gas to start the second half, jumping out to a 53-26 advantage on a Kris Jenkins three-pointer followed by a baseline slam from Donte DiVincenzo.

The hot-shooting Wildcats continued to pour it on from there, with Jenkins hitting a couple of more tough threes to put Villanova up by a whopping 65-31 margin with 10:33 left.

Seton Hall (12-6, 2-4) closed a three-game road trip with losses in all three games.

Big men on campus
Jenkins led the way with 16 points on 4-for-6 shooting from behind the arc. He joined Jalen Brunson (13 points), Josh Hart (11 points), Eric Paschall (10 points) and DiVincenzo (10 points) in double figures.

All seven of the players in head coach Jay Wright’s seven-man rotation finished with at least eight points as Darryl Reynolds had eight points and nine rebounds and Mikal Bridges had eight points and seven rebounds.

Desi Rodriguez was the only Seton Hall player to hit double figures with 15 points.

By the numbers
• Villanova shot 47.4 percent from the field and 46.2 percent (12 for 26) from three-point range, while Seton Hall shot 29.1 and 25 percent.

• The Wildcats had nine steals and scored 27 points off 16 Seton Hall turnovers. 

• Villanova only missed one of its 11 free throw attempts.

First half
Seton Hall led 5-4 before Villanova went on a 13-0 run to take control, capped by a fantastic one-handed putback slam from Reynolds. 

The Wildcats extended their lead to 25-7 as Seton Hall struggled to make anything. Consecutive threes from Rodriguez gave the Pirates a glimmer of life late in the first half, but the Wildcats still took a comfortable 36-23 lead into halftime.

Hall trouble
The Pirates have more victories over Villanova than any Big East team since the new version of the league was launched in 2013, beating the Wildcats three times. One of those wins was in last year’s Big East Tournament title game at Madison Square Garden, Villanova’s final loss in 2015-16 before its magical run to the national title.

Seton Hall has had far less success at the Pavilion, however, with their last win there coming all the way back in 1994. 

Simmons in the house
Sixers rookie Ben Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, was on hand to see the No. 1 team in the country. He sat courtside and took photos with fans at halftime. 

Up next
Villanova returns to action Saturday afternoon vs. Providence at the Wells Fargo Center.

Seton Hall goes home to welcome St. John’s on Sunday. 

Dario Saric: Joel Embiid 'has changed the sport in Philly,' deserves to be All-Star

Dario Saric: Joel Embiid 'has changed the sport in Philly,' deserves to be All-Star

Even Dario Saric is getting in on the Joel Embiid All-Star Game craze.

After the Sixers' 113-104 win over the Bucks Monday, Saric made the case for Embiid in a postgame interview with CSN's Molly Sullivan. 

"Joel, for sure, he deserves to be in All-Star Game ... he's the guy who changed the sport in Philly," Saric said.

"And if we get Ben [Simmons] to him, we got good couples for so many years."

Saric definitely trusts The Process.

"He deserve everything ... he's maybe the best big man in the league."

We'll find out if the fans like him as much as Saric does Monday at midnight when fan voting ends. 

Catch the full interview above for more.