RUSTON, La. (KMSS/KTAL) – “Through fall camp, through three weeks, we had one positive test. We were being very socially responsible…I felt like this was going to happen.”
As recently as yesterday evening, Louisiana Tech football was gearing up to play a big, non-conference game against Baylor this Saturday. The latest round of COVID-19 test results put an immediate stop to the team’s momentum, making Louisiana Tech the latest school to fall victim to the coronavirus.
“Unfortunately, Hurricane Laura threw the city of Ruston without power,” says Louisiana Tech Head Football Coach Skip Holts. “For three days, it was kind of a little bit more about survival mode for a lot of the players than it was about football.”
With close to 50 players living off campus, now living without power, the ability to monitor where the players were going suddenly became not as important making sure they were safe. After a three day hiatus, the players returned to practice. They were also tested for the first time since before the hurricane.
“The first tests, we had nine players come back positive,” says Holtz. “Through the second test, that number went up significantly.”
After the second string of tests, the team determined they had 56 players who would be eligible to play. Then came the test results for the third cycle of testing.
“When I got the results back, which had nine more players (test positive), which put our roster at 47, which included four quarterbacks and five specialists…we had a couple positions we were not too deep at.”
As of last night, the team determined they would have 38 eligible scholarship players for Saturday’s game.
“This decision was not who was out, as to not to play…but rather how many were out,” says Holtz. “With those type of numbers being anemic, we just did not feel like we could take our team over and put them in a game.”
The Louisiana Tech-Baylor game is now the 10th Division I game that has been postponed because of the coronavirus, including Big 12 games such as Tulsa at Oklahoma State and SMU at TCU. The other postponed games are ULM at Troy, Temple at Navy, North Carolina State at Virginia Tech, Marshall at East Carolina, and three Rice games — against Houston, Marshall and UAB.
When asked about the possibility of next week’s game against Southern Miss being affected, Coach Holtz remained optimistic.
“I feel encouraged,” says Holtz. “The wave of the first tests will be back Saturday-Sunday, and then another wave of about 20 players will be back Tuesday-Wednesday. They’ll still have to go through their time periods, then they go through their heart procedures, echo-cardiogram, EKG, the blood work to make sure they’re safe there, then they have to go through a three day acclimation period to make sure they’re ok.
I’m hopeful, I’m encouraged. With no complications…we could return up to 30 players for next week. All of the sudden you go from 47 to 77 and it gives you a completely different look on your depth chart.”