Florida-LSU game rescheduled for Dec. 12
The Florida-LSU game Saturday has been tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12, UF athletics director Scott Stricklin announced Wednesday.
The No. 10 Gators were scheduled to host the unranked Tigers at 4 p.m. on ESPN, but had postpone the matchup following a COVID-19 spike that forced a suspension in team activities Tuesday.
The outbreak includes two UF assistant coaches and 21 players on the team, according to Stricklin.
"Among our scholarship players, we have 18 current positives. We have another three walk-ons who are positive, so a total of 21 current team members, and when you add in those who are quarantined through contact tracing as a result of those positives, in addition to a handful of players who are on the non-COVID injury list, it gives the Gators less than 50 scholarship players available currently," Stricklin said.
"We've reached a point where we don't think it's appropriate that we try to play the game this weekend. ... Fortunately, all those who are positive in this instance, including some coaches and some football staff, they seem to be either asymptomatic or only experiencing mild symptoms so that's obviously a positive right now and hopefully they'll continue to not have more severe symptoms."
After making it through the month of September with a total of 10 positives, Florida's caseload has more than doubled this month. Gators coach Dan Mullen said Wednesday the UF medical staff is still "trying to trace the origin" of the outbreak and Stricklin added there's no obvious answers, but traveling to Texas A&M is the likely culprit.
"There’s suspicion that the trip this past weekend to College Station probably was at the root of it," Stricklin said. "This is just a suspicion, we went 11 weeks with almost single-digit total cases in a home environment, and we go on the road environment. And it’s not the first time we’ve been on a road environment.
"Obviously you can do it safely. We did it, we went to Ole Miss. But something’s happened in the last three or four days and that’s the thing that you would point to as the biggest adjustment to our normal schedule. So it just leads you to be a little suspicious that something would happen on that trip.”
The Gators have two road trips left on their 2020 schedule, traveling to the state of Tennessee twice for the Vanderbilt (Nov. 21) and Tennessee (Dec. 5) games. They will also make the short drive to Jacksonville for the Florida-Georgia game.
“The travel situation, I think, is going to get a really close review," Stricklin said. "There’s no secret that’s the one part of playing sports that is a little more complicated. You’ve heard Coach Mullen talk about all the steps we’ve taken within our own facility to put the weight room, the weight equipment over in the indoor where they have the open air environment and have the meeting spaces up in the stadium where again they have an open-air environment.
"Doing a lot of things on a day-to-day basis to not put yourself in position where you have something like this occur. It’s hard to create that when you’re traveling. We’ve got to continue to be really open to ideas of how we can make those situations a little healthier if you have a situation where you have a potential spreader involved.”
On the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday morning, LSU's Ed Orgeron said he wasn't surprised about the possibility of postponing Saturday's game.
"Not at all; obviously 2020 is what we’re dealing with,” Orgeron said. “I really think the safety of the kids is the primary focus. If it’s safe, we’re going to play; if not, we shouldn’t play.”