CHARLOTTESVILLE — For the second time this season, Virginia has had a football game postponed due to an opponent’s COVID-19 outbreak. The Cavaliers’ home game Saturday night against Louisville has been tentatively pushed back to Nov. 14 following “positive tests and subsequent quarantining within the Louisville football team,” the ACC announced Wednesday night.
Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra said 10 players and five support staffers had tested positive, and five more players and two other staffers were in quarantine due to contact tracing.
“While the number of players probably isn’t as high as other programs you’ve heard that have taken a pause, we felt it was necessary due to the fact that the support staff had tested positive,” Tyra said. “They work closely with our players in the training and in the equipment area.”
Tyra said eight of the players were from the defensive side of the ball, where the outbreak apparently centered on the team’s defensive line. One offensive player and one special teams player also returned positive tests.
Louisville lost 42-35 at home to Virginia Tech on Saturday, a game it played without nine players, eight on the defensive side of the ball. Tyra said containing the spread of the virus was the driving factor behind the decision to temporarily shut down the program, not a concern over fielding a competitive team against the Cavaliers.
However, Tyra said the Cardinals would have been down to three scholarship defensive linemen for this game.
“I know others have played with players out at different positions, but when you get into the trenches and there’s a lot of contact there between the offense and defensive linemen, that’s certainly one that the league has its eye on,” he said. “We just went through it last weekend and went out there with five, really four scholarship defensive linemen last week and I think we were trying to figure out, like most, how to scheme around it. Other teams in the league have had to do that. Our coaching staff was already on that path.”
When Wednesday’s round of testing returned new positives, Tyra said the team’s medical staff recommended pausing all football related activities until at least Sunday.
He called UVA athletic director Carla Williams and the program’s chief medical officer contacted the league office.
Both teams had an open date on Nov. 14.
Virginia moved its original Nov. 14 game against Duke up to Sept. 26 after its season opener against Virginia Tech on Sept. 19 was canceled due to an outbreak within the Hokies’ program.
“Both the league and Virginia were understanding of the situation,” Tyra said.
The Cavaliers are 2-4 this season and snapped a four-game losing streak with an upset of then-No. 15 North Carolina this past weekend.
Louisville will test players again Friday and Sunday.
“Those results will dictate when we return to team activities,” Tyra said. “We’re certainly hopeful the results allow us to get back quickly to practice, but if we see a spread inside or outside the locker room we may have to extend that period.”
That could potentially force the Virginia game to be pushed back later, to Dec. 19, the date of the ACC championship game.
“My hope is that we get this game in next week,” Tyra said.