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Virginia Tech's opener against North Carolina State delayed, making UVA the first game

Virginia Tech's opener against North Carolina State delayed, making UVA the first game

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Virginia Tech’s football season opener against North Carolina State on Sept. 12 has been postponed until Sept. 26 because of a COVID-19 outbreak at the Wolfpack’s Raleigh campus, the ACC announced.

That makes the Hokies’ Sept. 19 home game against rival Virginia the new season opener.

On Monday, North Carolina State said it was pausing all athletics activity after identifying 27 positive cases of COVID-19 within the department.

“We appreciate the ACC and Virginia Tech working together in partnership to move this game to a mutual open weekend,” N.C. State director of athletics Boo Corrigan said in a statement.

“There’s no blueprint for what we’re all trying to navigate and we are grateful for everyone’s collaboration to make this work.”

Based on the ACC’s contact-tracing guidelines, as recommended by the league’s medical advisory group, athletes must quarantine for 14 days if they come in contact with someone who tests positive for the virus. That would mean they would have to be held out of practice.

The Hokies game against Virginia on Sept. 19 will be the opener for both teams. It will be just the second time that the two rivals open the season against each other. UVA beat the Hokies 7-0 in Blacksburg to open the 1970 season.

UVA’s first game had been scheduled for Sept. 11 at home against VMI. That game was canceled earlier when VMI and the Southern Conference said it would not play football this fall because of the virus.

The Wolfpack now are scheduled to open at home against Wake Forest on Sept. 19.

“The ACC created a league schedule with flexibility to adjust games if needed,” said N.C. State coach Dave Doeren. “There are going to be times teams must adjust based on what is best for the health and safety of the players and staffs involved. This move provides our team and staff the time needed to prepare and reacclimate after pausing our practices.”

Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente was asked Tuesday about the COVID-19 situation at North Carolina State.

“I feel like you walk off the practice field you are waiting for the new news that happened,” he said. “It’s not a daily thing, it’s almost an hourly update. I think that’s going to be the normal.”

Fuente said programs need to be prepared for the threat of COVID messing with the schedule this fall.

“Opponents can change, schedules can change,” Fuente said. “You are going to have to go with the flow a little bit. Control what you can control, worry about the things you are in control of and do your best to handle the unknown one step at a time. This is literally, I’m a big planner, but we are literally trying to make it through one day at a time.”

Virginia Tech athletes returned to campus July 13 for voluntary workouts and began camp Aug. 6. Classes at the school’s Blacksburg campus started Monday. Tech has declined to release the results of its COVID-19 testing for athletics.

It still is unclear how many — if any — fans will be allowed at Lane Stadium for home games this season. Under the current phase of the Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plan, capacity would be limited to 1,000 people. That would likely only allow for family of players and staff to be in attendance.

UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall said last week that he does not expect the Cavaliers to find a replacement for the VMI game.

“The latest I’ve heard is it’s likely we will not replace VMI,” he said. “It’s not definitive yet.”

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