The Florida Gators and Kentucky Wildcats game on Saturday could be in jeopardy as the University of Kentucky and head coach Mark Stoops recently reported that there are currently 18 Wildcat players and 10 staff members currently out due to COVID-19 and injuries.
“We can’t afford anymore,” Stoops said in his pre-game press conference today. “We get tested again tomorrow morning and let’s hope — we can’t afford anymore.”
The current recommended threshold to play this season set by the SEC is at 53 scholarship players. If more Wildcat players test positive, it is presumed Kentucky will fall under that threshold due to injuries, contact tracing and positive test results.
Players who test positive must quarantine for at least 10 days, while players who are found to be in close contact with a person or persons who has tested positive for COVID-19 will have to quarantine for at least 14 days.
The Gators have already had one game of their own delayed due to COVID-19 as Florida dealt with an outbreak of the virus following its Week 3 matchup against the Texas A&M Aggies. Florida had at least 37 players test positive over the course of its two-week hiatus.
With its delay, Florida will face off against the LSU Tigers on Dec. 12, however, with just a few weeks left to go in the regular season, it would be unlikely, if not improbable another game could be rescheduled if need be. Kentucky is set to test its players and personnel again one more time tomorrow and those rest results - returned Friday - will likely let both teams know if the game is to be played.
“To say it’s not strange, that’s an understatement because every day you’re holding on," said Stoops. "Every time my trainer and Dan Brezowitz are walking down my hall, ‘Please, stay away.’ I’m trying to keep my distance from those guys and we’re getting people dinged a couple [of] times a day.”
While it is not unprecedented - the SEC has had its fair share of delays related to COVID-19 over recent weeks, there could be implications if Florida is unable to play its full allotment of games. However, the health and safety of the players must come first, and exposing Florida players who have already gone through the gauntlet with this thing one time already, wouldn't be smart.
Last week, Kentucky was shorthanded against the Alabama Crimson Tide, down 10 players due to injuries and COVID-19 contact tracing. With further tests returning positive today, there is far more concern whether or not the game will even be played.
We will update this story as more information becomes available.