Wolfpack Ready to do Whatever it Takes to Save Season

Brett Friedlander

Thursday, NC State became the third ACC school this week to announce that its fall classes will be held remotely rather than in classrooms because of a COVID-19 outbreak on campus, joining North Carolina and Notre Dame.

There are reports that the ACC is one of six FBS conferences considering a plan based on all its schools teaching the majority of classes on line, creating a modfied bubble for their athletes by limiting campus attendance to 20% of the student body.

It's not the optimal situation by any means, especially since numerous administrators -- including ACC commissioner John Swofford -- have said that students being on campus is a prerequisite to any college sport being played this fall.

But as NC State offensive lineman Joe Sculthorpe said, he and his teammates are willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary in order to save their 2020 season.

"I think I can probably say for the team that we want to play," Sculthorpe said on a Zoom conference with local media Wednesday. "We’re willing to do anything, whatever we can to get on the field this fall and make sure we actually have a season. 

"As things update, we are taking it one day at a time. All my mind is right now is going to practice on Friday and doing the best that I can. It’s just being prepared for whatever situation arises."

As of now, State is still offering classroom instruction, although some of its classes have begun transitioning over to online.

Wide receiver Emeka Emezie is enrolled in one of those classes. He said the current situation is unlike any thing he's experienced in his four previous years of college.

"I actually went to one in-person class and then they canceled it to just straight online,' he said. "it’s a lot different. It’s a lot different process with everything. You definitely have to watch who you are around. It’s a lot different process in the Murphy Center, too -- wearing your mask, keeping your distance from everybody."

Coach Dave Doeren said that the football program is doing its part to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by stressing social distancing, disinfecting equipment and facilities frequently and requiring masks to be worn when away from the field.

When it comes to players showing symptoms, he said that the Wolfpack's policy is to err on the side of caution.

"We’re testing here every week and we’ve been good," Doeren said. "We’ve had more scares than anything. A guy will have a headache and we will hold him out until he gets retested and then he’s fine. 

"There’s so many things right now that are symptoms of COVID, so every time a guy has one you pull them out and you quarantine everybody that is in that tracking area. We’ve had more removals and replacements a day later because we're getting our testing back really fast right now than we’ve had any real issues."

As well as the football program has managed the pandemic thus far, Doeren acknowledged that COVID-19 clusters like those reported this week at both UNC and State were inevitable once a large number of students returned to campus and began mingling together.

As much as he would prefer classes to be taught in person rather than online, he said that the modified bubble virtual instruction will help create is likely the only way an uninterrupted college football season is possible.

"As we saw over at UNC, they sent their students home but their athletes are staying and an article I read said that it might even make their football team even safer." Doeren said. "We’ll just have to see how it plays out. Every day you just kind of bend your knees and be flexible and try to stay as positive as you can and deal with it.

"I think in-person instruction is a powerful thing. Can you learn in a virtual setting? Yeah, you can. Maybe it does protect the 530 student-athletes if that’s what it ends up being. But I think there’s positives and negatives to all of that. I just hope that everybody that is having the issues is okay. As a campus, I know that Chancellor (Randy) Woodson will do the right thing for us."