Saturday’s Notre Dame game at Wake Forest has been postponed and Notre Dame has paused all football-related activities due to COVID-19.
The school reported seven positive tests (out of 94 administered) with an additional six players put in isolation because of contact tracing.
“We knew COVID would present challenges throughout the season,” coach Brian Kelly said in a statement, “and we’ll always put student-athlete health and safety at the forefront of our decision-making.”
This marks the 16th game postponed this season in college football.
Both Notre Dame (2-0) and Wake Forest (1-1) have an open date Oct. 3.
When Kelly said Monday his team’s COVID-19 plan was “an evolving situation,” he was not kidding.
The Irish began Tuesday by canceling practice, as first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, after four players tested positive last week and another six were quarantined. And then came the news of the postponed game.
None of those 10 played in Notre Dame’s 52-0 dismantling of South Florida on Saturday.
The Irish were scheduled to leave Friday for Winston-Salem, N.C., for their first road trip of the season.
Kelly said Monday that as part of the team’s COVID-19 protocol, players would not be able to meet up with family members before the game.
“You’re trying to avoid as much contact outside your ‘bubble’ as possible,” Kelly said. “We’ll do everything as if this is a home game. In other words, all of our meetings, practice and post-meetings will be done here (in South Bend, Ind.). We’ll eat here, board the plane, get in there (Friday) evening, get off the plane and go to bed to lessen the contact in the hotel.
“Our guys will be in individual rooms, wake up in the morning, throw on a Superman cape and go beat Wake Forest. That’s how we do it.”
Notre Dame announced 90 minutes before kickoff Saturday that eight players on the two-deep had been ruled out: quarterback Brendon Clark, linebackers Marist Liufau and Shayne Simon, wide receiver/punt returner Lawrence Keys III, running back Jahmir Smith, cornerback TaRiq Bracy, defensive end Ovie Oghoufo and safety Kyle Hamilton.
Hamilton’s was a non-virus injury (ankle) and might return this week. Receiver Ben Skowronek, the graduate transfer from Northwestern, is day-to-day with a strained hamstring.
“Generally speaking that’s those that fall under close contact, which would be the linemen,” Kelly said. “It’s (a question) of distance, duration and direction.”
Coaches are on high alert after Florida State announced a positive test result for first-year coach Mike Norvell.
“It’s serious, right?” Kelly said. “You’ve got to have a mask. Social distancing is important. We have to be very, very serious.
“We have a succession plan in place for every coach. Mine is not singular in terms of one coach taking over. There are different responsibilities. I’m not going to get into who that person is at this time. Hopefully, we don’t have to.
“We have it detailed across the board at all positions, from special teams down to wide receivers. We’ve got to be vigilant.”
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