After 40 days of zero coronavirus cases, the streak was broken after USF football coach Jeff Scott on Wednesday confirmed one player has tested positive.
“I went back and asked our training staff and they had a 40-day streak going which is probably one of the best in the country,” Scott said. “I think we’re going to hopefully start a new streak of negatives, but we did have one positive that we found out about Monday. He is being held out and also following the proper safety protocols.”
Four other players are also in quarantine due to close contact with the player.
“There’s four additional players that are being held right now in quarantine,” Scott said. “Roommates are an automatic close contact, and then depending on who you’re around on the field could be other close contacts.”
After already being tested twice this week, the team will test their players and staff Monday, Wednesday and Friday next week.
With how often the team is testing, Scott said the possibility of making new plans days or hours before the game is a very genuine reality.
“The plan right now is to test Friday morning before we get on the bus to head to the hotel,” he said. “So you could have a scenario on Friday morning where you do have a positive. And again, his three roommates are also out and maybe one or two players.”
Positive test results could mean that players who wouldn’t see much action might suddenly find themselves filling in for a player who’s in quarantine.
“Then we’re on the phone call with some of our walk-ons or freshmen that maybe weren’t going to travel and tell them they have 30 minutes to get over here because they’re now starting our second team,” Scott said. “That’s a very real deal.”
Scott is emphasizing the importance of not only being ready on the field, but off the field as well. Theoretically, anyone can get the start at any time, Scott said.
“Everybody has to do their part, you have to be ready,” he said. “This is a year unlike any other where your freshmen walk-on needs to know the game plan just as much as your starter does.”
With the roller coaster of uncertainty the pandemic is presenting, Scott has incorporated a different practice style to better prepare for the unpredictable season ahead. The Bulls are now going away from scout teams and instead implementing an NFL-based approach to practice.
“Typically, before today, whenever it got to the team separate times, we’d have the offense on one field with the defensive scouts over there, giving the look as if they were Citadel’s defense, and then we would have the defensive coaching staff on another field with their first and second defense, and we’d have the offensive scouts, your walk-ons and freshmen that aren’t playing over there running The Citadel defense,” Scott said.
Now that every player has a chance at playing any game, walk-ons and freshmen need to practice with the team, Scott said.
“We go through our practice individually, we’ll do our one-on-ones, we’ll do our inside drill,” he said. “But when it gets to the time where normally we’d split up, we’d say, ‘OK, this first 20 minutes … it’s defense emphasis … do that for 20 minutes and then we flip it.”
Players aren’t making as much contact with each other each drill in order to avoid injury, so it’s not the type of practice that the team is used to, but it provides a chance for coaches to more easily assess players.
“It actually gives you a better look because you’re going against even more quality players on the other side,” Scott said.
The new format of practice is a change that comes 10 days before the season opener, but Scott said he hopes this new practice format helps prepare his team for the uncertainty of the season ahead.
“It’s a unique situation, one that we’ve tried to communicate with our guys and be sure that they’re ready for what we have in front of us,” he said.