With Players In Quarantine, One Just Out Of Hospital Utah Football ‘Barely’ Has Full Team

Nov 9, 2020, 10:31 AM | Updated: 3:43 pm
Kyle Whittingham - Utah Utes Football...
Head coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Utes reacts in the fourth quarter against the Texas Longhorns during the Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome on December 31, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham revealed more information regarding the COVID-19 cases on his team over the weekend.

The positive cases didn’t give the Utes enough scholarship players to play in their game on Saturday against Arizona, forcing them to cancel the matchup. The Pac-12 declared the game a no contest.

On Monday morning, Kyle Whittingham addressed the media and talked about what his football team is going through.

Player Hospitalized

Whittingham mentioned that the virus is very serious and he is seeing it first hand as one of his players was in the hospital.

“Well, there’s no doubt it’s out there,” Whittingham stated. “It’s affecting literally thousands and thousands of people, depending how old you are. That obviously has a big effect on what kind of impact it actually has as far as you being sick and what you’re able to do or not do. But we’ve had some players that become very sick, one was in the hospital. So it’s there. I’m not a medical expert, I don’t want to try to expound on something that I really don’t know much about other than that it has impacted us and like I said, one player had a tough go of it.”

KSL Sports received the following statement from the Utah Athletic Department on the player being hospitalized.

“One student athlete who has not been participating with the football program since August recently tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized. He has since been released from the hospital, is at home and is doing much better. Throughout this time he has been receiving full care from the medical team.”

‘Barely’ Have Enough Players To Play

Whittingham was asked as of Monday if the Utes had enough players to play this weekend.

“Barely, we’re right on the borderline and the difference this week is we do have extra time to try to prepare some guys that really have been getting zero reps because of their status on the depth chart. Whereas when it happened last Friday, we were under the threshold as well. But we also didn’t have time, there’s no practice left to try to get some of the walk-ons up to speed. It was just an impossible situation. At least this week, we don’t have very many more players of any at our disposal we had last week. At least we have time to try to get some guys trained up as best as we can.”

Utah moved their game against UCLA from Friday to Saturday, which will allow the Utes to get some guys deeper on the depth chart up to speed.

“Just for the sure fact our numbers, you have to give guys reps. Somebody’s got to take the reps,” Whittingham added. “So the guys that are available are the guys that are getting reps and it certainly has been a juggling act. Every week, every day, essentially there’s different lineups and getting people back from quarantine or from the virus itself and you’re losing some people. It’s been tough to keep continuity but I’m sure the whole country is having the same issue I would imagine.”

Decimated Two Position Groups

When the Pac-12 announced the return of the 2020 football season, they released some guidelines and protocols. One of the items mentioned was the minimum amount of players at a certain position that had to be available to play or the game would be canceled.

  • Seven offensive linemen
  • One quarterback
  • Four defensive linemen

According to Whittingham, two position groups were impacted by the positive tests late last week.

“Spread out but there are two position groups that were decimated, more so than any other,” mentioned Whittingham. “That’s why ultimately we couldn’t play because first of all, total number of scholarship players the two position groups we really couldn’t line up and get it done.”

As of right now, Whittingham and his program are taking it day by day as far as trying to get to Saturday’s game with UCLA.

“Well, we’re trying and we hope to. Every day is different,” said Whittingham. “If we get a few more positives this week, that could knock us out of the game this weekend. So it’s a day to day thing. We are doing our best to be able to play the game. But if we lose many more guys this week, maybe another situation, we’re not able to. Take it day by day and see what happens.”

False Positive Tests

Utah didn’t have enough players to face Arizona last Saturday due to positive COVID-19 cases and contact tracing. On Monday, Whittingham said they barely have enough players to field a team. He talked about some potential false positive tests.

“You know, there was a couple,” Whittingham said. “It’s so convoluted every day is it’s a different story and so I can’t remember exactly. We’ve had false positives throughout this whole process. I can’t remember exactly if there were some that went from Friday to the weekend. I couldn’t tell you for certain, but maybe one, maybe one.”

As of right now, Utah is scheduled to face UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, November 14 at 8:30 p.m. MT on FOX.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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