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College football in the time of COVID: ‘A lot of the dorm guys got quarantined’

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You gotta hate it when that happens.

NCAA Football: Louisville at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State just got back on the practice field Monday after spending more than a week sidelined by coronavirus quarantining measures. Dave Doeren spoke Wednesday about the challenges that his program has been facing on a daily basis, not necessarily because of positive test cases—though there have been those—but because contact tracing can put a bunch of guys on the shelf all at once.

Which is what happened recently.

Have you actually had half your roster out?

Yes, and it’s not like they’re out because they’re all positive COVIDs. Like I said, it’s quarantining that’s getting a lot of the guys. It’s a real number. The dorm got us early when the campus had all the students back in the dorms. A lot of the dorm guys got quarantined, and so that’s a lot of players. That’s 33 guys that live in that dorm, so that’s a big chunk of people. But there’s days where that happens, so you focus on the ones that can be there, and you try to help the ones that can’t mentally through the Zoom ability to teach. Right now, we’re gaining a lot more back than we’re losing, so that’s a good thing.

These dudes all live with each other, and in places like Wolf Village, you have four guys to a single apartment, and if one gets sick or is suspected of being sick, then the other three go into quarantine as precaution. You can see how this escalates rapidly in terms of personnel losses.

If one guy is exposed simply walking to class—no longer a possibility, thank goodness—the possibility for that to spread exponentially within the football team is substantial. The living arrangements themselves create problems no matter how careful everybody is. These are the perils of bringing all students back to campus.

Doeren also spoke quite a bit about actual football stuff, if you’re in to that sort of thing. Some quick notes:

— Bailey Hockman is the second-string quarterback to begin the year, with Ben Finley next in line.

— Junior college transfer Rakeim Ashford impressed Doeren during the team’s scrimmage

— Doeren said switching prep from Virginia Tech to Wake Forest wasn’t a big deal since State plays Wake every year. If it had been the other way around, that might have created some headaches.

— After being off for eight days, the program has to once again start slow and ramp up. Doeren said the team was on the field in helmets only for about an hour on Monday.