Injuries and suspensions have always made personnel matters in college football very fluid, and COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing have added even more challenges to coaches trying to field teams in 2020. Georgia Southern found out the hard way Saturday.
The school announced shortly before its season-opener vs. Campbell that a whopping 33 players won't play vs. the Fighting Camels.
It's unclear how many of the absences are related to COVID-19 tests and contact tracing. But it's safe to say that coach Chad Lunsford is the first coach to face a personnel issue of this magnitude this season.
These aren't just reserves or walk-ons either. Senior Wesley Kennedy III, the Eagles leading rusher from 2019, won't suit up. He rushed for 829 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He was expected to be the centerpiece of an offense that has been known for decades as one that consistently pounds the rock.
Safety Kendrick Duncan Jr. is another key player who will miss the season-opener. He was second on the team with 79 tackles last year and added two interceptions for good measure.
NCAA guidelines state that any player who tests positive for COVID-19 must sit out for 10 days and be symptom free for three days. Those who have come in "high-risk" contact with individuals who have tested positive must sit for 14 days. "High-risk" contact is defined as being within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes without a face covering.