Kudos to Georgia Tech for getting a conference win on the road yesterday against **snicker** a rebuilding Florida State team. The Jackets were the team that played harder and deserved the win.
Not that they made it easy on themselves, with two field goals and an extra point blocked. If you’re wondering what the problem was, let Coach 404 explain ($$):
Collins blamed himself for the blocks. As the Yellow Jackets examined their COVID-19 protocols before they started practice, Collins decided to eliminate twice-weekly periods of eight live extra point and field goal reps because he worried they would require too many people to be too close together for too long a period of time. “That’s on me,” Collins said. “That’s a coaching error. We will get that fixed.”
Echoes of Navy there. As I said then, expect coaches to scramble to figure out how to work around COVID concerns in practice.
That only goes so far, though. There’s no way to scramble around players missing practice.
For Auburn counterpart Gus Malzahn, Saturday signified the two-week countdown to the season opener, which means that every positive COVID-19 test moving forward could have a significant impact.
The Crimson Tide and the Tigers conducted scrimmages inside their respective venues, with Malzahn announcing that 10 players sat out because of COVID-19 issues. Malzahn added that there were two new positive tests this past week and that half of those sidelined Saturday are projected starters.
“I think all these guys will be back for the opener,” Malzahn said on a Zoom call. “The issue is that we’re two weeks away from our first opponent, and we’re going to really focus on a game plan. If you don’t have these guys for the game plan and get them the week of the game — it’s just the preparation reps that are the challenge.”
He’s not shitting bricks. Yet.
Meanwhile in Knoxville, Tennessee’s had so many players miss practice that Jeremy Pruitt has lost count of who’s available and who’s not. The players aren’t worried, though.
Vols players insist they won’t be defeated by the coronavirus now, even though 44 players missed last Saturday’s practice, with most of the absences due to either positive tests or contact tracing.
“I would say that the team morale has been high, and I don’t think it’s really hurt what we have going,” fifth-year senior receiver Brandon Johnson said Friday afternoon during a Zoom call. “We kind of knew what we were getting into during this pandemic, and we knew that at certain periods of time there may be people out for X reasons. I just think we were ready for the things that may happen.”
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said Thursday that he’s lost count of who’s available and not available as the Vols reach the two-week mark before their Sept. 26 opener at South Carolina, but the players don’t seem fazed. Johnson has not detected any timing trouble in the passing game when components have been missing, adding, “I think we’ve done a great job of filling in where we need to fill in.”
A scratched scrimmage last Saturday and a shortened scrimmage Wednesday night inside Neyland Stadium do not seem to be concerning factors either.
Bold talk, or whistling in the dark? I bet Pruitt doesn’t know for sure. Yet.