LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville football players tested COVID-19 free last Friday and the entire program tested negative on Saturday, allowing the Cardinals back into their meeting rooms and onto the practice field on Sunday, though it took a minute to feel at home.
"It was obviously tricky for our guys, because we practiced Wednesday night and then all of a sudden they're getting texts from us saying, 'Guys, we're putting a pause on things,' without really much of an explanation," Louisville coach Scott Satterfield told reporters in his weekly news conference, conducted via Microsoft Teams. "They know why, but really there's not a whole lot of explanation. And other than telling them we'd be tested Friday and Saturday and we'll practice Sunday if everything goes according to plan, meaning there's no positives. So for them, it's like, what are we doing? But then once we got into it, got into practice, guys were flying around and we had a very productive practice."
They still seemed a bit dazed, according to the coach, when the all-clear to resume activity came Sunday afternoon. But after a round of meetings at 4:30 before hitting the practice field at 6, things were back to normal.
The four-day pause that necessitated the cancellation of last Saturday's scheduled game at Virginia is about as minimal as you'll find for a program that wound up with a handful of positive cases and even more players forced to isolate.
At Sunday's practice, the team still was short-handed, and Satterfield expects to be when the Cardinals resume play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Virginia. But given everything else, the chance to start right back up, and against the same opponent they'd prepared for and would have faced last weekend, is about as optimal a setup as a program could probably hope for under the conditions.
The Cardinals expect to particularly be short-handed on the defensive front. Six defensive linemen who were out for Virginia Tech remain absent from the team's two-deep depth chart released on Monday: Micah Bland, Ja'Darien Boykin, Malik Clark, Yaya Diaby, Dayna Kinnaird and Tabarius Peterson. Also absent are safety Isaiah Hayes and punter Ryan Harwell. But the Cardinals do expect linebacker Monty Montgomery to return from quarantine.
"There's obviously protocols for that," Satterfield said. "Quarantine is 14 days. Then if you are positive it's a minimum of 10 days with that. So there are going to be guys who are still there in quarantine, and we'll see as the week goes on if we have anybody available. The only thing with that, even if you do become available by the end of the week, you've missed two weeks. They've missed all of the training and learning about who we're playing and reps, quite honestly. So really, kind of what we put out for our 2-deep is what we'll have available."
Satterfield said that he hasn't tweaked much with the game plan during the down time, and that the coaches did not come to the football complex except for testing. The team will be tested again on Monday, and likely will be tested four times this week as a precaution.
He said the experience won't change much in the way the program conducts its practices, but that it will make everyone a bit more aware.
"We've had a plan of how to go about things from Day 1," he said. "Obviously you're just very cognizant of what's going on around our building, and you're more aware. I think the big thing in all that is making sure you have enough distance between the next person, whether it be in the building or out on the field. Obviously, playing football you're going to have some contact, but when you're not, making sure you have that distance there. We're all wearing masks and standing apart. It just makes you aware."
The Cardinals will take Monday off, then resume a regular-game week on Tuesday.
"We were excited about being able to get back on the field," Satterfield said. ". . . It's kind of a unique situation. Obviously we worked on the (Virginia) game plan all last week, and now you're right back on it again this week. But having all that work pretty much done, you're pretty much refining the game plan and moving forward. So we're back on schedule."
And hoping to stay that way.
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