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Orgeron: Most LSU players have had, recovered from COVID-19

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Most of LSU’s football players have contracted and recovered from COVID-19, coach Ed Orgeron said Tuesday, leaving the coaching staff hopeful those players will remain eligible to play the bulk of the season before they have to be tested again.

Orgeron made those comments while discussing how he would plan for the possibility of seemingly healthy starters or regulars suddenly being deemed ineligible to suit up for the defending national champions because of a positive COVID-19 test.

The coach explained that because players who have recovered from COVID-19 do not have to be tested again for 90 days under Southeastern Conference protocols, he figures he won’t likely have to worry about those who’ve come back from the virus suddenly being ruled out again because of it.

“I think, not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it,” Orgeron said during a video conference, adding later that he did not know the percentage of the roster that had tested positive.

“I think, hopefully, that once you catch it, you don’t get it again,” Orgeron added. “I’m not a doctor. I think they have that 90-day window, so most of the players that have caught it, we do feel like they’ll be eligible for games.

“So we look at the players that have caught it and say, `OK these guys should be eligible,”‘ Orgeron continued. “We look at the players who haven’t caught it; we talk to them about being very, very careful so they’re eligible for games. But we know that the players that haven’t caught it, we have to have some backups in their position ready in case they catch it. So we’re looking at our roster in that manner.”

Orgeron did not go into detail about whether any LSU players who tested positive have experienced symptoms. While COVID-19, which has killed more than 190,000 Americans, is more deadly among older people and people with preexisting conditions, it has caused lingering health problems in some younger, healthy people – including athletes.

The novel coronavirus can affect multiple organs, including the heart. Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, who’s 27, is sitting out the entire season while recovering from a heart issue related to the virus.

The SEC’s policy of not requiring testing of recovered players for 90 days is based on medical findings that antibodies developed in fighting off COVID-19 provide at least short-term immunity from contracting it again.

No. 6 LSU hosts Mississippi State on Sept. 26 to open a 10-game, league-only SEC schedule. The SEC canceled all nonconference games because of the pandemic.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced in August they would not play football this fall, partly out of concern for player safety. The Big Ten, however, has been discussing the possibility of allowing its football season to start as early as next month.

LSU officials have declined to make public precise counts or even percentages of players who have tested positive for antibodies or the disease itself. The virus has been spreading at alarming rates on college campuses since students began returning for the fall semester, with some schools scrapping in-person instruction as a result.

Orgeron’s comments Tuesday were narrowly focused on how the virus would affect his ability to field a team rather than the larger implications of a widespread outbreak among his players.

“I told the team, `We need everybody.’ There’s no telling what’s going to happen with the COVID,” Orgeron said. “I think we’ve got a good handle of it, but once a kid gets it, the next man’s got to go up.”

Orgeron said the training staff tells him who has tested positive and who has to quarantine for how long, “and we got to make adjustments.”

Orgeron recounted that about two weeks ago, all but a few offensive linemen were out because of COVID-19 testing or contact tracing, preventing the Tigers from running 11-on-11 drills for a few days.

“We adjusted very well,” Orgeron said.

AP Top 25: La.-Lafayette leads 10 new teams in rankings

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
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Sun Belt rivals Louisiana-Lafayette and Appalachian State were among 10 new teams ranked Sunday in first regular-season Associated Press college football poll, which was stripped of the teams not yet scheduled to play a fall season.

There was no change at the very top: Preseason No. 1 Clemson received 60 of 61 first place-votes this week.

After all Division I teams were eligible to be voted on for the preseason Top 25, the panel of 61 voters was permitted to consider only the 60% of Football Bowl Subdivision teams scheduled to play in the fall now that the season has started.

That meant preseason No. 2 Ohio State, No. 7 Penn State and No. 9 Oregon, along with six other Big Ten and Pac-12 teams, dropped out of the rankings. The Big Ten, Pac-12, Mid-American Conference and Mountain West have delayed their seasons due to concerns about playing amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the Big Ten is taking some steps toward a possible mid-October start.

With those teams gone, Alabama moved up to No. 2. Oklahoma is No. 3, followed by No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 Florida. Defending champion LSU, with one first-place vote, is No. 6.

The Sun Belt Conference has two teams ranked for the first time since the conference began sponsoring football in 2001, with Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 19 and Appalachian State at No. 23, tied with Kentucky.

The Ragin’ Cajuns pulled off maybe the biggest upset of the weekend, winning at Iowa State 31-14 on Saturday. The Cyclones had been ranked No. 23 and are the one team currently scheduled to play to fall out of the rankings after being in the preseason Top 25.

Louisiana-Lafayette was last ranked in 1943.

POLL POINTS

The rest of the newcomers to the Top 25:

– No. 16 Memphis has the highest ranking of those teams entering the poll. Not surprising. The Tigers were first among the others receiving votes in the preseason poll and opened the season by beating Arkansas State last week. That same Arkansas State then turned around and upset Kansas State on the road Saturday. The Tigers might have to sit on that ranking for a little while. Players being sidelined by positive COVID-19 tests and related quarantines forced the postponement of Memphis’ game Friday against Houston.

– No. 17 Miami also garnered some support in the preseason. The Hurricanes join on the strength of a 31-14 victory Thursday against Conference USA contender UAB.

– No. 18 Louisville beat Western Kentucky 35-21 to open its season and is ranked for the first time since 2017.

– No. 20 Virginia Tech has already had two games postponed. The Hokies were supposed to open their season Saturday against North Carolina State, but the Wolfpack’s preparation for the season was delayed by a COVID-19 outbreak. Now Virginia Tech is dealing with coronavirus issues of its own and its game next week against Virginia has been postponed.

– No. 21 BYU opened the season on Labor Day, beating Navy 55-3. But the Cougars’ next game has been postponed because of positive COVID-19 cases among the players.

– No. 22 Army has opened the season with two victories by a combined score of 79-7.

– No. 23 Kentucky is scheduled to start the season Sept. 26, along with the rest of the SEC.

– No. 25 Pitt opened the season by beating Austin Peay 55-0 in a game that was shortened in the second half. With the Panthers up 42-0 halftime, the teams agreed to play 10-minute quarters.

CONFERENCE CALL

SEC – 8 (Nos. 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 15, 23t).

ACC – 7 (Nos. 1, 7, 12, 17, 18, 20, 25).

Big 12 – 3 (Nos. 3, 9, 11).

American – 3 (Nos. 13, 14, 16).

Sun Belt – 2 (Nos. 19, 23t).

Independents – 2. (Nos. 21, 22).

RANKED VS. RANKED

Just one as the SEC still sits idle. BYU at Army would have qualified but for the postponement.

No. 17 Miami at No. 18 Louisville. Two of teams that benefited from solid openers against C-USA teams. Louisville’s Micale Cunningham and Miami’s D'Eriq King make for an exciting quarterback matchup.

LSU decides to allow fans at Tiger Stadium

The Daily Advertiser
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LSU decided to allow fans to occupy up to 25% of 102,000-seat Tiger Stadium for its home football opener against Mississippi State on Sept. 26.

LSU also said in its announcement on Wednesday that it would ban tailgate parties on its Baton Rouge campus and that all available tickets would go to either season ticket holders or students.

Tailgate parties across campus are a central part of the game-day experience at LSU. Now such gatherings will be forbidden unless they occur within the footprint of a limited number of permitted motor homes and are restricted to members of the traveling party in each recreational vehicle.

Other changes include expanding the perimeter around Tiger Stadium to allow for social distancing among fans entering the venue and a requirement that fans wear masks. Motorist access to campus on game day also will be restricted to those with parking passes.