MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Minnesota football team will have a “number of players” unavailable against Michigan in the season opener due to COVID-19, according to Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck.
“P.J. Fleck said Monday he knows current number of players unavailable due to COVID-19 for Saturday’s game vs. Michigan,” Pioneer Press writer Andy Greder tweeted at 11:35 a.m. Monday.
News: #Gophers football coach PJ Fleck said Monday he knows current number of players unavailable due to #COVID19 for Saturday's game vs. Michigan, but he's clear he won't be sharing it.— Andy Greder (@andygreder) October 19, 2020
"Not 65," he added.
Yet, there's limits on how much spread the U can have and still play.
“I don’t want you all to think, you know, we have 65 players out right now," Fleck said. “That’s not what I’m saying.”
Fleck talked about watching teams from conferences that have already started play dealing with these types of issues and how the Big Ten’s rule is that a player who contracts the virus must sit out for three weeks.
“Is it a little bit nerve-wracking, at times, knowing who’s going to play, who’s not, who you give the reps to, and then all of a sudden, you find out on Thursday or Friday that they can’t play for two or three weeks? Yeah, that can be a little bit nerve-wracking, but you respond,” Fleck said.
ESPN’s “College Gameday” is scheduled to be in attendance for No. 18 Michigan vs. No. 21 Minnesota, which will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Minneapolis.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said his team doesn’t currently have any players unavailable due to COVID-19.
“Not currently,” Harbaugh said.
The Wolverines have dealt with positive COVID-19 tests in the last six weeks, though, Harbaugh revealed.
“In September, our last positive was July 30, the end of July, and then after that, Sept. 10, we did have some positives,” Harbaugh said. “In September, after that, we did have some positives between then and now, yes.”
Several games across the country have been postponed or moved due to COVID-19 outbreaks, but the Big Ten scheduled its eight-game season without any bye weeks, so it would be difficult to reschedule if any games were canceled.
Harbaugh said players have to test negative Friday before the team flight to be allowed to travel to Minneapolis. They must also test negative on game day to play, he said.