LSU is getting players back -- and it needs all of them to right ship against Arkansas
LSU is getting players back.
Lots of them.
It needs them.
All of them.
The Tigers’ game against Alabama was postponed last week because they couldn’t meet the SEC threshold of 53 available scholarship players. A handful of positive COVID-19 tests and a whole bunch of mandatory quarantines took their toll.
LSU didn’t even have enough players to scrimmage last week. It had 1 scholarship quarterback available for practice, which was more than it reportedly had among the tight ends and long snappers.
So the players were off Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
They returned Monday and there were more of them.
Now the Tigers, who saw their October game at Florida moved to December because of COVID-19 issues with the Gators, should have enough players to prepare for – and actually play – Arkansas on Saturday in Fayetteville (knock on wood).
Head coach Ed Orgeron said he expects to get most if not all of the quarantined players back during practice this week.
“Obviously this thing is very fluid, can change every day,” the coach cautioned.
Orgeron said weeks ago that he thought “most” of the LSU players had already had COVID-19, but he said this week that the Tigers hadn’t let their guard down, noting that “last week most of our guys that weren’t able to play was because of quarantine. It wasn’t because of the number of guys who had COVID.”
He added that the doctors’ protocol is to quarantine even players who have already had COVID-19. Orgeron added that he couldn’t “speak to” whether any players had tested positive twice.
The most important thing is that players are appearing rather than disappearing from the LSU practice facility.
In fact, Orgeron said the Tigers already have hit a milestone: “We’re actually going to have 2 quarterbacks practice.”
Those 2 quarterbacks would be freshmen TJ Finley and Max Johnson, who hasn’t practiced for a week because of quarantine.
One player who won’t be returning this week – and probably not at all this season – is starting quarterback Myles Brennan, who hasn’t played since suffering an abdominal injury Oct. 10 at Missouri.
Johnson’s return to practice means punter Zach Von Rosenberg, a 30-year-old former minor-league pitcher, won’t be taking any more reps as an emergency backup quarterback.
“I love Zach,” Orgeron said. “Zach is a team leader. He played second-team quarterback last week, did a tremendous job – beat our defense a little bit, which worries me.”
Von Rosenberg is not the only quarterback who has beaten the LSU defense, which has allowed an average of 575 yards in its 3 losses.
Finley, who played very well in his debut against South Carolina and very poorly in his follow-up in the Tigers’ last game against Auburn, is expected to start. Johnson, who mopped up for Finley in the win against South Carolina and the loss against Auburn, likely will also play.
“We’ll see who is the best guy available,” Orgeron said. “Right now it’s probably going to be TJ unless Max can have a great week. We’ll probably play both of them in the game.”
Though a bunch of Tigers will be back, that doesn’t mean things will be back to normal.
“We’ll have to ease them back in,” Orgeron said. “They’ve been working out on their own. They were in good shape when they stopped, so they haven’t been out that long. Hopefully the workouts kept up to pace, they can come and practice.
“I think it will be fine. But we’re going to have to limit their reps in the game. We’ll see if some guys need extra conditioning, give them extra conditioning, whatever it might be.”