Kirby Smart discusses Georgia's COVID concerns ahead of Peach Bowl
Georgia and other teams have faced one additional common opponent throughout the 2020 season: COVID-19.
“I’m focused on Cincinnati, Cincinnati and COVID. Those are the opponents we’re dealing with right now,” Smart said when answering a question about Georgia’s roster availability for the Peach Bowl game on New Year’s Day.
When asked about not having the typical bowl experience, Smart noted that the COVID numbers in the state of Georgia are on the rise.
“We’re trying to avoid doing a lot publicly and we’re trying to avoid any positive tests that might knock somebody out for this game with the numbers spiking all across the country but really right here in Georgia with things going up, our concern is with our players that have gone home and come back and also our guys being around each other,” Smart told reporters. “There’s not a lot you can do to enjoy the bowl. You’ve got to be able to enjoy the fellowship of your teammates and staying safe so we’re able to finish off this season.”
Smart described the program as being “on pins and needles” with regard to clearing COVID tests ahead of the game against Cincinnati.
“… [W]e have three hurdles to get through. One would be tonight’s (Saturday night’s test), in which we hope to get back the tests as soon as possible. And then we would have Monday morning, and then Wednesday morning. So you can imagine we’re on pins and needles,” Smart said. “Because anybody who hits on those three testing cycles would be out. And the bigger concern is the contact tracing, in which they may knock out more guys. And anybody at this time wouldn’t clear contract tracing or Covid.
“It’s an obvious concern for both teams, and we’ve dealt with it all year. But our numbers have gone up in the last two or three weeks in terms of us hitting some players. Where we had gone a long time in not losing anybody. We’ve had some guys that we’ve had to quarantine and that we’ve lost and we’re fighting to get every one of them back. The week that we would’ve played Vandy we would’ve had one or two. The next week we would’ve had one or two. We’ve been able to get those guys back, but we know at this point going forward there’s no getting anybody back. So if it’s the wrong position from a depth position it could really attack your team.”
If need be, the Bulldogs have a plan in place if Smart can’t coach the Peach Bowl.
“Yeah we have protocol in place,” Smart said. “And every time I test it’s a concern of mine. I’m not going to share that exact plan because it hasn’t had to come to fruition. But we’ve been through it and talked about it, and have things available for Skype meetings, for Zoom meetings, to sit in team meetings, to be in practice by way of Zoom meetings, to have someone be in charge of gameday decisions. Pretty much everybody in the country has that now.”
Smart’s full Saturday press conference can be viewed here.
Georgia-Cincinnati is set for noon ET Friday on ESPN.