Kirby Smart on battling COVID: ‘It just seems like it’s a matter of it’s going to hit you before this game or that game’
To this point in preparation for the 2020 season, Georgia coach Kirby Smart feels his team has done a good job of managing COVID-19 and preventing that from upending any practices.
But some of Georgia’s SEC counterparts haven’t been so fortunate. Auburn had to cancel multiple practices after nine players tested positive and another seven had to be quarantined. Tennessee had 44 players miss practice on Saturday due in part to the virus.
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt estimated that the team had only seven or eight active cases but close to 30 players sitting out due to quarantine protocols.
Those are the second and third opponents on Georgia’s schedule this season. If the season were to start this week, as was originally intended, there’s a chance those games might be postponed.
The SEC isn’t the only conference dealing with the complications that come with COVID-19. NC State already postponed its Sept. 12 game against Virginia Tech, while SMU and TCU did the same for their contest next week.
And Smart acknowledged that he’s aware of some of the struggles within the conference.
“When you talk to the other guys in the league and share information, it’s scary that any given time it can hit your team and you not have enough guys to practice and get better,” Smart said. “It just seems like it’s a matter of it’s going to hit you before this game or that game.”
Georgia’s first game is set for Sept. 26, against Arkansas. Georgia hasn’t publicized testing numbers from the team, though the University did announce this week that for the week of Aug. 24-30, it had 821 positive tests, 798 of them being students. Over the prior seven-day period, the school reported 189 positive cases.
Statements from President Morehead and VP Wilson regarding positive student tests: pic.twitter.com/VZGxjufprK
— UGA (@universityofga) September 2, 2020
Smart stated that a rise in cases was predictable with students coming back onto campus.
While nothing publicly has been released about COVID and the team, Georgia did see its first major impact from it this week, as quarterback Jamie Newman opted out of the 2020 season due to the uncertainty around the disease.
When Smart was asked why though it seemed they had more success with the disease than others, he couldn’t give a specific answer.
“I think Ron [Courson] and his staff do a tremendous job and I don’t think there’s anything we’re doing somebody else is not,” Smart said.
As Georgia continues to get closer and closer to the start of the season, the effect of the virus becomes a bigger concern. For example, if a player comes into close contact with someone who has the virus, he must quarantine for two weeks, as mandated by the SEC and the NCAA. If that happens on Sept. 14 for a Georgia player, it means that the player would miss the season-opener on Sept. 26, even if he tests negative for it and never displays symptoms.
Smart also added that just because Georgia seems to be doing well now doesn’t mean that is always going to be the case. He’s well aware that a spike or outbreak within the team could happen later in the season, which would prove to be far more costly to the Bulldogs and the 2020 season.
“It’s a concern across the board,” Smart said. “But I don’t know exactly why we’ve been a little less than others but that could prove to be unfortunate later on in the season if we have more of an outbreak”
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart
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