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How Has LSU Football Conducted Practice With Many Players Quarantined?

Von Rosenberg throwing touchdowns, walk ins seeing significant snaps in practice

When punter Zach Von Rosenberg sent out the tweet last week, it was a funny anecdote that turned some heads sideways. 

Almost a week later, the social media post makes so much more sense now as the Tigers have practiced with a supremely diminished roster for over a week now. A recent COVID-19 outbreak has shattered the opportunity to play Alabama this weekend and coach Ed Orgeron is optimistic all of the players that are currently in quarantine will be back in practice sometime next week.

But what about how the last two weeks of practice have gone? This was supposed to be a time when the Tigers really make or break their season in the answer department. After the loss to Missouri, LSU spent two weeks preparing for South Carolina but focusing on itself at the same time.

Following a 48-11 loss to Auburn, these last two weeks were supposed to be about more of the same, trying to find some answers. It provided a prime opportunity to get in the film room and work on fundamentals in practice. But with a heavy dose of players, starters included, who are confined to their rooms for two weeks, that hasn't been the case. 

Orgeron said on Wednesday that quarantined players have been able to hop on zoom meetings, conduct individual workouts and run, away from other players and the practice facility. 

On the practice field, walk ons are receiving some extra looks, defensive linemen are taking snaps at offensive line and Von Rosenberg has been the second-team quarterback behind TJ Finley. These are the kind of issues that come in a world run by COVID and the protocols that are in place. 

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"He [Von Rosenberg] threw a touchdown pass yesterday and the whole team was cheering," Orgeron said Wednesday. "We had one of our best practices yesterday, they had a lot of energy, I cut some time off and we had a great practice."

Despite all of the challenges, Orgeron says the Tigers are getting great work in because of the way players have filled the shoes of missing key players. 

"Guys have stepped up," Orgeron said. "We have defensive linemen that have never snapped before who snapped yesterday. So we've kind of stayed with the same plan. Less plays, less time out on the field, but we have to get our work done. So we had guys move around. Guys did some different positions they haven't played. They cross-trained. I think it's just part of what we've gotta do this year."

The majority of the quarantined players are out primarily because of contact tracing and not actual positive tests. It's an issue that SEC commissioner Greg Sankey acknowledged on Wednesday has been the most difficult part in moving forward with conference games. 

Four games this weekend have been postponed and there are real questions about whether or not the conference will be able to reschedule all of the postponed games with not much flexibility in the schedule left. Orgeron said that it's been difficult in terms of player development, particularly over the last two weeks but that it's just the times we're living in. 

"We gotta stay with the same plan, less plays, less time out on the field but we had to get our work done," Orgeron said. "Guys have played different positions but it's just what we gotta do this year. 

"We just gotta roll with the flow but we have a next man up theory. We don't blink and I thought Zach Von Rosenberg playing second team quarterback and young guys getting more snaps, it's an opportunity to grow."