USF football has been noticeably thin since the bye week, as COVID-19 and the general fatigue of the roller coaster of the 2020 season have seemingly caught up with the Bulls.
Coach Jeff Scott confirmed Tuesday that cornerback KJ Sails and defensive lineman Kevin Kegler will miss the rest of the season with injury and surgery, respectively.
Lineman Blake Green will be out this week, and linebackers Antonio Grier and Demaurez Bellamy are questionable, Scott said.
“This is just a heck of a year and the difficulty just with the numbers, being able to practice,” Scott said. “We are legally allowed to dress out our graduate assistant coaches so we have two of our GAs dressed out in pads working on our scout team and now we’ve used the kickers out there on the scout team.
“We’re definitely really thin and trying to keep everybody healthy enough so that we can have a chance to play Saturday.”
Adding to a long list of unavailables, the Bulls are now down to just over half the lineup they started with in the spring.
“Before the opt outs we had 115,” Scott said Tuesday. “We’re practicing with about 64 today.”
Oftentimes injuries themselves throughout the season can become overwhelming. But throw in opt outs, COVID-19 positives, and the team is stretched the thinnest it’s been.
“This year, you have guys starting off the season that are opting out, so that’s one group right there,” Scott said. “Then you have players that are out due to COVID-related issues, whether they’re positive and they’re in isolation or they have contact tracing, they’re in quarantine. So that’s another group that comes out and then you have your standard injuries.”
Those two factors combine for a perfect storm, especially at the tail end of the season, and the team depth is hurting as a result. Now in the last two weeks of the season, it’s coming at USF all at once.
“We started with eight scholarship corners to start the year and we’re at two right now going into this game,” Scott said. “We started the season with eight D-tackles for our two D-tackle sports inside, and we’re at two right now, counting walk-ons going into the game.
“For our three safety positions we started the season with eight scholarship players and we’re down to three for the three spots.”
Prior to Saturday’s 56-21 loss to Houston, it was announced that 13 players were unavailable. Scott said after the game that USF was a couple of injuries or unavailables away from not being able to play.
That same thin line needs to be walked going forward. The Bulls have transitioned to workouts and walk-throughs instead of full-contact practice in order to avoid more injuries.
“I mean you literally are one ankle injury in practice away from having to cancel the game,” Scott said.
The possibility of canceling or postponing games spiked last week after 15 games were scrapped.
So far this season, 15% of college football games have been canceled or postponed. That number spiked to 25% last week.
USF’s opponent this week, Navy, was one of the teams with a postponed game. The Midshipmen did not play their scheduled opponent Memphis on Saturday and also didn’t play the week before against Tulsa.
USF has had just one game postponed this season — Sept. 26 at Florida Atlantic, a game that has yet to be rescheduled.