Chip Kelly and UCLA football team cautious of COVID-19 outbreak – Daily News
UCLA football coach Chip Kelly understands that players are excited about “one more opportunity to play in a group” this season, but admitted that the increase in COVID-19 cases is cause for concern.
The Bruins were away most of last week to work on final exams before returning to a regular training schedule this week to prepare for the Holiday Bowl game against 18th-ranked North Carolina State on December 28 in San Diego.
“The health and safety of our players is the top priority,” said Kelly. “Our (preparations have) been good and I’m sure NC State’s preparation has been good. The only thing that can turn it away is potentially an epidemic. ”
Kelly mentioned that he had had a lengthy meeting with his players to discuss the recent spike in positive cases and the possibility that the virus could jeopardize the program’s first bowl game since 2017.
“I would say we’re all a little nervous as bowl season approaches because it looks like it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Kelly said.
It doesn’t necessarily have to highlight the NFL’s record number of positive cases this week, but rather the impact it has had on UCLA’s men’s and women’s basketball programs, which have had to cancel games this week. .
The Bruins haven’t deviated much from the safety protocols and procedures they put in place during the 2020 season. They continue to keep players six feet apart during indoor meetings and continued to hold some of their larger team meetings away from home.
“We are well aware of everything that is going on, but we are sticking to our protocol and nothing has changed since the start of August,” said defensive back Martell Irby. “We’re just trying to continue to be aware, to continue to be aware of what we’re doing when we leave these facilities so that we can play this game.”
The Bruins were one of two Pac-12 teams that didn’t completely lose a game on the 2020 pandemic shortened schedule, but they had to adapt quickly to host a Sunday morning game against Cal after Utah weren’t able to field enough players to face the Bruins that week.
This situation is unlikely to arise during bowl season after the NCAA creates an additional bowl game to ensure every eligible team can play in the playoffs. Every FBS team that was not eligible has moved on and is focused on preparations for the 2022 season.
“We’re all fingers crossed and are all going to do what we can do to get away from it, but when you look at this variation it looks like it’s spreading faster and faster,” Kelly said. “We just have to be aware of it and do what we can to try to avoid it.”
Kelly told reporters in July that the list was 98% vaccinated. The University of California system required all students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to return to campus for the fall term. The 2% of the UCLA list who were not vaccinated, due to medical or religious beliefs, had to apply for a waiver.