Auburn, which canceled multiple football practices last week, will be without 16 players due to COVID-19 concerns when it resumes practice on Tuesday.
Coach Gus Malzahn told reporters on Sunday night that the team currently has nine players who have tested positive for the coronavirus and seven others who are considered high risk.
Malzahn said the Tigers have had “very few” players who have exhibited “major symptoms.”
“We’re learning as we go here,” he said of dealing with the coronavirus as a team. “Every day and every week is a challenge.”
Auburn canceled two practices and a scrimmage last week. Malzahn said the team didn’t scrimmage on Saturday because players needed the weekend off after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, earlier in the week.
Without going into specifics, Malzahn said two position groups were particularly affected by COVID-19 testing, to the point that the staff didn’t feel comfortable going through full practices.
Auburn protocols require at least 17 days before a player can return from a positive COVID-19 test, including a 10-day quarantine and a seven-day reacclimation period before being fully cleared.
With four weeks remaining until the week the season is scheduled to begin, Malzahn said there’s a sense of urgency.
“But the bottom line is the health and safety of our players,” he said.
Malzahn, who stressed the ability to adapt on the fly this season, was asked what the team’s goals were this week.
“To practice,” he said matter-of-factly.
Auburn is scheduled to open the season on Sept. 26 at home against Kentucky.