Tennessee Volunteers

Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel

Tennessee scraps scrimmage with 44 Vols out

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Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt says he had to turn a scheduled scrimmage into a regular practice Saturday because 44 players could not practice.

Pruitt says those players hadn’t been at the last three or four practices, and the Vols were left with only 30 offensive players. That forced coaches to focus on two groups in situational work.

Of the 44 Volunteers who did not practice, Pruitt says seven or eight of those are active COVID-19 cases. Three players are dealing with injuries or surgeries. Pruitt says approximately 27 or 28 are in quarantine.

Pruitt says Tennessee has had 48 players who have missed at least 14 days due to quarantine, with four quarantined twice. Some self-reported, and Pruitt says one eventually tested positive for COVID. He says they are working through contract tracing.

Teams are allowed 25 practices, and Pruitt says Tennessee probably will end up with 20 or 22 practices barring a change over the next couple weeks. He says they’re learning as they go and it’s been tough to prepare a team to play.

Tennessee, Auburn cancel practice due to positive tests

Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel
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Positive tests for COVID-19 has forced a pair of ranked Southeastern Conference teams to cancel at least a practice or two as the league announced guidelines for game day covering everything from who will be allowed on the field to press boxes.

Coach Jeremy Pruitt said he canceled Friday’s practice for No. 25 Tennessee due to a “few more positive” test results and Saturday night’s practice also could be canceled depending on the results after everyone in the program was tested Friday morning.

No. 11 Auburn has canceled its last two practices because of positive test results this week, said a person with knowledge of the situation. How many players, coaches or others tested positive remained unclear. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss details.

Pruitt said it was his decision to cancel Friday’s practice. Tennessee has had good testing results with the exception of when the Volunteers returned after eight days off for the Fourth of July holiday. Then results returned more positive tests, so Pruitt said he shut down practice.

“We retested everybody again this morning to see where we’re at,” Pruitt said. “Our No. 1 priority here is to be able to protect everybody associated with our program, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. As we get the results back, we’ll see exactly where we’re at and we’ll start practice up accordingly.”

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is scheduled to speak to reporters Saturday. Auburn spokesman Kirk Sampson would only confirm that the Tigers hadn’t practiced Wednesday or Thursday as scheduled.

Malzahn had previously said the Tigers had gone two straight weeks without a positive after a rash of positives a month before. He said Auburn still had four players going through protocols when the team began practice on Aug. 17.

“We’re going to be very transparent,” Malzahn said on Aug. 22. “We’ll keep y’all updated from week to week as we go, and we hope the other programs do the same thing.”

Vanderbilt also missed two practices after canceling a scheduled session Aug. 21 and didn’t return to practice until Wednesday.

The Tigers are scheduled to open the season against Kentucky while Tennessee visits South Carolina on Sept. 26 as the SEC kicks off its 10-game, league-only season.

Pruitt said the Vols might not practice Saturday night either if they don’t track down the source of the latest positive test results.

“We want to make sure we figure out why,” Pruitt said of these increased positive results.

Pruitt said students are back on campus and this is something their players are going to have to learn to handle. Tennessee wants to trace these positive results back to the source of infection to prevent this from happening again.

With the season kickoff still a month away, Pruitt said they have time to be cautious and still get the 25 practices allotted in.

“It’s not like we are running out of time or anything like that,” Pruitt said. “We want to make sure that we are protecting or players and reassuring their safety.”

Notre Dame among heavy favorites in Week 2 college football odds

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The upside of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish losing a thriller in their opener against Texas is that they are returning home this week, where they have been covering spreads consistently. Notre Dame is listed as a 28-point favorite against the Nevada Wolf Pack with a total of 60.5 points at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Notre Dame is 6-0 straight-up and 5-1 against the spread in its last six games at home, according to the OddsShark College Football Database. The Irish are 8-2 SU and 6-3-1 ATS in their last 10 September home games. The total went over in nine of those 10 games. Notre Dame is just 3-6-1 ATS in their last 10 outings as a favorite of at least 21 points. Nevada is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 games on the road.

The Tennessee Volunteers are 11-point favorites, with a 54.5 total, against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to website PredictionMachine.com the Volunteers win this matchup SU 89.2% of the time at an average score of 35.8-20.8. The total has gone under for bettors in five of Tennessee’s last seven games after a win.

The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide are 29-point home favorites against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, with a 61.5-point total. Alabama is 13-0 SU over its last 13 games but only 2-5 ATS during its last seven home games. Western Kentucky is 5-0 ATS in its last five games after a win. The total has gone over in WKU’s last four road games.

The SEC has two conference matchups in Week 2. The Mississippi State Bulldogs are 6.5-point favorites against the South Carolina Gamecocks, with a total of 45. The Gamecocks are 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS in their last seven games vs. MSU. Mississippi State is 5-0 SU in its last five games after a loss. The total has gone under in four of South Carolina’s last five games.

The Florida Gators are 16-point favorites against the Kentucky Wildcats with a total of 47.5. Florida is 7-2 SU and ATS in its last nine conference games, and is 13-6-1 ATS vs. Kentucky since 1995. The total has gone under in six of Florida’s last eight games.

The Pittsburgh Panthers are six-point favorites against the Penn State Nittany Lions, with a 48.5-point total. Pittsburgh is 8-1 SU in its last nine games in Week 2. Penn State is also in an 0-9 ATS slump over their last nine road games. The total has gone under in three of Pittsburgh’s last four games against the Big Ten.

The Louisville Cardinals are 14.5-point road favorites against the Syracuse Orange, with a 69.0 total. Louisville is 16-4 SU and 13-7 ATS in their last 20 September games, but that sample includes a 1-4 ATS trend in Week 2 games. Syracuse is 5-0 ATS in their last five home games. The total has gone over in five of Louisville’s last six games.