AUSTIN (KXAN) — A pause in all Longhorns football activities is putting Saturday’s game between Texas and Kansas in question. However, Jayhawks coach Les Miles and Longhorns coach Tom Herman are planning to play the game on the scheduled date as of Monday morning.
Texas Athletics reported on Sunday that three players and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the program’s latest round of testing, causing the team to shut down its facility. Texas will do additional testing on Monday and Tuesday before making a determination on a return to practice.
The players and staff traveled with the team to Kansas State on Friday and Saturday and tested negative prior to the trip, UT Athletics says.
Time is running out in the regular season with the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 19 and bowl games scheduled for late December. Texas and Kansas were originally forced to postpone their game from its Nov. 21 date after roster issues with Kansas due to COVID-19.
“I think there’s still a good chance,” Miles said during the Big 12 media call Monday. The Jayhawks are winless this season, yet Miles believes his team will be able to host the Longhorns on Saturday to close out the 2020 season.
Longhorns coach Tom Herman believes the current run of positive cases will end with the five announced on Sunday, which would likely allow Texas to play this weekend.
“We’ve got to stay positive. No pun intended there. What I have been told by our medical staff is that everything that we’re doing right now is merely precautionary. We are wanting to make sure with a couple of extra cases that, quite frankly, we haven’t had all year that this isn’t a trend throughout the team. That this is a couple of isolated incidents. If that holds to be true, our plan is to play this weekend. We’re very optimistic, assuming the test results from today and tomorrow morning come back the way we hope they do,” Herman said.
If Texas’ testing situation turns into more positive cases, the Big 12 could consider playing the game on the same weekend as next week’s title game with Iowa State and Oklahoma already locked in for the championship.
“I’m worried about our kids. I’m worried about making sure our kids are OK mentally, physically. My stress level right now is just getting back on the field and preparing for Kansas,” Herman said.
As part of the conference’s routine testing protocols, Texas football players and staff are tested for COVID-19 three times per week.
The minimum number of players required to play a football game in the Big 12 Conference this season is 53. The total roster number includes scholarship and walk-on players.