An Extended Bye Period
Auburn’s Trip to Starkville Has been Postponed to Mid-December
(Photo by Acid Reign)
War Eagle, everybody. We have made it to or beyond the midseason in this year’s SEC slate of action. This week, there have been quite a few cancellations or postponements due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In addition to Auburn at Mississippi State, Alabama at LSU, Texas A&M at Tennessee, and Georgia at Missouri have all been cancelled due to virus tests and contact tracing. At noon on Friday, checking the FBS big board for this week, 22 games across the nation have been sidelined.
As of Wednesday of this week, it was reported that 9 Auburn players tested positive as well as 3 staff members, causing the pausing for a couple of days of team activity. Auburn has since resumed practicing with the positive folks and close contacts quarantined for the requisite periods. I am thankful to the Auburn administration and head coach Gus Malzahn for being transparent on numbers. Most of the rest of the league has played test information much closer to the vest.
From my understanding, the vast majority of player scratches from SEC active rosters has been due to contact tracing, not positive tests. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was quoted this week saying that the test-positivite rate for players was only 0.005 percent. Sankey went on to say that the contact tracing protocols were a matter decided by public health officials and not by the league.
It sure seems to me that if the teams have enough testing measures to check every player 3 times a week, they could certainly do a few extra tests on contract-tracing victims. If Bama head coach Nick Saban can test positive on Tuesday and then pass virus tests on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and coach on Saturday night, it should be possible to likewise test affected players in that manner. In speaking to several health professionals, it seems false results on these tests, both positive and negative, are an issue. This would enable more games to be played, and players would have to spend less time locked inside 4 walls. I can’t see a negative consequence of the proposed retests.
As much as I’m hating the 2-week Auburn layoff, I do have to admit that it comes at a good time for the Tigers. Quite honestly, Auburn definitely looked the part of a team that had no spring practices when the season started. I would say Auburn had a huge issue trying to replace 7 of 9 starters on the lines and 4 out of 5 secondary players. As the season has worn on, Auburn was showing big improvement in those areas. Now with an additional 3 weeks of practice, not to mention getting injured players healed, Auburn stands to come out of the break playing its best football. The Tigers hope to return to the field on Saturday, November 21 to host the Tennessee Volunteers with an evening kickoff.
It’s a thin slate for the SEC this weekend with only 3 games left being played. At 11:00 AM Central Standard Time on the SEC Network, Vanderbilt visits Kentucky. Kentucky is one of the league’s best defensive teams, and Vanderbilt has played well on defense in stretches. Both offenses have been dismal. In fact, Kentucky has only scored 13 total points in its last 2 games. This one might be a low-scoring game. I’ll take the Wildcats at home.
At 6:00 PM on ESPN, Arkansas visits Florida. Arkansas has played everyone tough this season and has shocked the world with its 3–3 record at this juncture. Florida has had a few defensive issues, but honestly those seem to have diminished of late. The Gators held Missouri to 17, with one of those being a garbage-time touchdown. Georgia scored 28 on Florida, but one score was off a turnover and another in the kicking game. I suspect Arkansas will find similar tough sledding. Meanwhile, no one has stopped the Florida offense. Texas A&M and South Carolina both held Florida to 38 points, and that has been the lowest output of the season for the Gators. I think Florida wins by double digits.
In Oxford, Mississippi at 6:30 PM, Ole Miss hosts South Carolina on the SEC Network. Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has done a good job keeping his team ready to play hard, despite being outmanned on the defensive end. Meanwhile, South Carolina has flat-lined in recent weeks, giving up 100 total points in its last couple of games. That is not a good look, going up against a Rebel offense that is among the best in the SEC. I think Ole Miss wins big.
I had thought about putting up an open thread on Saturday but will have to nix that idea. I’ll be out of the house a good bit of the day it turns out, hopefully, getting a lot done. I’m hoping to get back to sitting in front of the TV all Saturday later in the season.