Tigers

Brandon Dahlberg / The Commercial Appeal

Memphis-Houston set for Friday postponed

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Memphis’ prime-time game against Houston set for Friday night has been postponed.

The American Athletic Conference announced the decision Saturday, a day after Memphis paused football practice and all group activities for the team because a “number of individuals” with the program had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Tigers already lost a game at Purdue previously scheduled for Saturday when the Big Ten canceled its fall football season Aug. 11. The conference says the Houston game will be rescheduled for a later date.

Memphis officials say the positive tests and contact tracing indicate most of the cases are linked to social events outside of team activities. Combined with contract tracing, Memphis says a “significant number” are in quarantine in keeping with CDC guidelines. Officials say there are no serious cases but that all players and staff affected are being closely monitored.

The Tigers opened the season by beating Arkansas State 37-24 on Sept. 5. Their next scheduled game is Sept. 25 at UT San Antonio.

Malzahn: 10 Auburn players sidelined by COVID-19 issues

Jake Crandall-Montgomery Advertiser
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AUBURN, Ala. — Coach Gus Malzahn said No. 11 Auburn had five starters out of practice this week because of COVID-19-related issues.

Malzahn said Saturday the Tigers had two new positive tests this week and 10 total players are sidelined from practice because of the virus or close contact. He didn’t identify the players and declined to say if a particular position group had been hit hardest.

Auburn opens the season Sept. 26 against Kentucky and is set to begin specific game preparation on Sunday.

“All those guys will be back for the opener,” Malzahn said. But he noted that they will face challenges in getting ready when they are out until game week.

“You’re sitting here two weeks from kick and you’ve got some of your guys who aren’t practicing,” Malzahn said. “Obviously that’s concerning.”

In late August, Auburn canceled several practices after nine positive tests led to 16 players getting sidelined. Malzahn said two unspecified position groups “were hit extremely hard.”

“I think we’ve done an excellent job if you look at the last three weeks as far as the number of positives,” the coach said. “The challenge is close contact. And that’s something that is a big emphasis for us, but I know that it’s a big emphasis for everybody.

“We’ve really educated our guys. We’ve told them what they’ve got to do.”

Malzahn was asked what his backup plan for coaching a game if he’s sidelined by COVID. He cited his longtime friend, Liberty’s Hugh Freeze, who coached from a hospital bed in the coaches’ booth against Syracuse two weeks after undergoing surgery for a staph infection.

“One thing that I’ve already kind of got my mind on is, if I did, figure out a way in an isolated place in the stadium or Zoom in,” Malzahn said. “I know my buddy Hugh Freeze coached last year laying down in a hospital bed. That’s the way I’m looking at it.

“I’m going to figure out a way either through technology or isolation to still do it.”

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.