EYE ON THE TIGERS: LSU’s fight against COVID-19

EYE ON THE TIGERS: LSU’s fight against COVID-19
LSU quarterback Myles Brennan (No. 15) (Source: Gus Stark/Gus Stark / LSU Athletics)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Fans will be back in Tiger Stadium on Saturday, as the SEC gets play underway but it still isn’t known exactly what the season will look like during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

After LSU won the 2019 national championship, it seemed like life couldn’t get any better for Tiger nation and it couldn’t for a while but the reality of all our lives quickly turned because COVID-19 soon had everyone questioning the 2020 season and asking things like “Can they even play?” and “What will it look like?” and “Is it safe?”

Well, we have answers to some of those questions now and the SEC has made it clear that teams will play. LSU explained how it is making the season happen despite all the obstacles.

Football in the middle of a pandemic. It’s caused conversation and controversy. How do they play but stay safe? Just like life, there’s no way to negate risk altogether but, much like a coaching staff has to do through the course of a game, adjustments have been made to make it happen.

“The attitude around here is we want to play,” said head coach Ed Orgeron. “Obviously, that’s going to be the doctors' decision, not our decision. But, if they tell us we can play, we want to play. So, we feel comfortable. Our players feel comfortable they’re getting the proper care. We practice COVID principles in here. Our guys don’t blink."

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“I’m amazed we can get to this point with a lot of hard work and a lot of stipulations in place to make sure we can do it safely and in a healthy fashion,” added athletic director Scott Woodward.

“A lot of planning - it’s been planning since the day they left in preparations for the day they would return,” explained Shelly Mullenix, senior associate athletic trainer. “We knew they’d come back. Obviously, didn’t know when. So, we had to have a number of plans in place to be able to address each one of those situations. One of the jobs we were charged with was getting contact trace trained so we could follow the pieces and figure out what the puzzle looks like. We think we did that sooner than any of the other colleges we’ve talked to. And that was critical to figuring out how the virus itself moves in and out of facilities, residential housing, or practice - whatever the case may be.”

College campuses are naturally social places but social distancing outside the football facilities could be the most important friend or foe to the LSU Tigers this season.

“When I get done with football, I’m going back to my apartment, I’m eating dinner, I’m watching film, I’m studying,” said quarterback Myles Brennan. “Other than that, I’m waking up and going right back to football. Fortunately, I am in online classes so I won’t have to be on campus as much.”

“We don’t want to miss a week; I don’t want to miss a week, you know?” emphasized center Liam Shanahan. “I’m new here. I’m really trying to get caught up so I’ll be ready to go for the year. But, you know, just being able to adapt and persevere through circumstances that aren’t ideal. Luckily, we’ve come back since then and we’re back at it.”

“I feel like they’ve done a good job on campus here. When I’m in my office here looking down, a lot of people have their masks on. They’re doing the right things. It’s just that you have to do those right things consistently. It’s not enough to do it most of the time. You really have to do it consistently for it to be able to stay under control,” added Mullenix.

If there’s one thing we know for certain, the LSU staff has exhausted every option to make sure all student-athletes are safe under their protection. But, twists and turns this season remain to be seen because if there’s one thing we’ve all learned in 2020, everything can change.

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