As Auburn nears the start of the season, the Covid-19 numbers have taken a small but inconvenient rise. After two rounds of no positives, the Tigers' recent round of testing resulted in two positives and 10 quarantined, including five expected starters, according to coach Gus Malzahn in his post-scrimmage press conference last Saturday.
“The challenge is the close contacts,” said Malzahn.
Despite the few cases, Malzahn has praised the team for the way they have responded.
“They’ve done a very good job with when we’ve challenged them to do something they’ve done it.”
When players are put on quarantine, they may be out of physical practice, but that doesn’t mean they are uninvolved in football. Players are still expected to Zoom into team meetings and watch film like normal. While players must sit out, Malzahn emphasized that anybody can go down at any time and that anyone must be ready to play.
“Everyone has to be thinking that they could play this season,” said Malzahn.
The necessity to play anybody at the drop of a hat has caused this year’s freshman class to have to work harder than ever to develop from high school players into college athletes. Malzahn believes they have the potential to do great things in the future.
“This freshman group really has the chance to be special, they are off to a great start,” he said.
For the players, getting Covid means that it's next man up. But what happens when the head man himself gets it? Malzahn said that they have been developing a plan should he contract Covid to allow him to coach from either a virtual session or by finding an isolated spot within the stadium.
Auburn hopes to continue preparing for the 2020 season with as few hiccups as possible, as the time to prepare and adjust is growing thin.