SEC commissioner confirms that other games may be moved to find a date for LSU and Alabama
BATON ROUGE - Alabama fans have been calling LSU "chicken" and other things on social media since a COVID-19 outbreak on LSU's football team went public early this week. That resulted in the Tigers' game against No. 1 Alabama scheduled for Saturday in Tiger Stadium getting postponed on Tuesday by the Southeastern Conference office.
A makeup date has not been announced yet.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron made it clear on Wednesday that he wants his team (2-3) to play the Crimson Tide (6-0), which was a 24-point favorite for the previously scheduled game.
"We look forward to the rescheduling of Alabama," Orgeron said on the SEC teleconference. "We want to accept that challenge. We want to play Alabama. Whatever happens, we're going to be ready to play. Whenever they tell us to play, we'll be ready to play."
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed on that teleconference that his office is considering moving other games involving LSU and Alabama around to create a new date for the Tigers and Tide, as reported by the USA TODAY Network on Tuesday.
"The ability to adjust games and modify the schedule will affect more than just the involved teams," Sankey said. "And we've said this to our membership repeatedly."
The SEC's rescheduling plan for Alabama and LSU includes moving games to Dec. 19 that will not involve the SEC West and East champions as they will meet on Dec. 19 in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
One scenario would have LSU hosting Alabama on Nov. 21 and would call for LSU's game at Arkansas on Nov. 21 to be moved to Dec. 19 and Alabama's home game against Kentucky on Nov. 21 to be moved to Dec. 12. Another scenario would move LSU's home game on Dec. 5 against Ole Miss to Dec. 19 and Alabama's game at Arkansas on Dec. 5 to Dec. 12 with LSU hosting Alabama on Dec. 5.
LSU already has a makeup game scheduled on Dec. 12 against Florida, which had to postpone its LSU game on Oct. 17 because of a COVID-19 outbreak amid the Gators.
"I've heard a lot of things," Orgeron said. "Your guess is as good as mine. Whenever they tell us to play, we'll be ready to play."
At the moment, Orgeron is preparing his team for Arkansas (3-3) and an 11 a.m. kickoff on Nov. 21 in Fayetteville, Ark., on the SEC Network or ESPN.
Orgeron said he is confident that next week his team will be back over the roster minimum of 53 scholarship players needed to play, which his team fell under this week due to positive COVID-19 and the subsequent 14-day quarantine and contact tracing. That is why the LSU-Alabama game was postponed.
"From what I'm told, our quarantine guys should be back next week," Orgeron said. "Right now, it looks positive. By Tuesday or Wednesday, we'll know."
By then, he also may know whether to get his team ready for Arkansas or Alabama. He has practiced for both teams this week.
"I think our team has handled this week very well," he said. "At the beginning of the week we were practicing for Arkansas because we didn’t think the Alabama game would happen. And then we thought maybe it could happen, so we went back to Alabama."
There were reports on Tuesday afternoon that the LSU-Alabama game was going to be played Saturday. But moments later, the SEC office released that the game was postponed.
"And then we found out yesterday (Tuesday) for sure we weren’t playing," Orgeron said. "But I want to commend the SEC for doing the right thing for the safety of our players. We knew this season would be unlike any other."
Orgeron did not confirm a story that his players caught COVID-19 at a Halloween party last month.
"No, I know nothing of that," he said. "I've heard about it, but not from our players. Most of our guys that are out are because of the quarantine. We have a rule for no bars during the season. Guys can go to parties, but they have to be careful."
LSU's volleyball team has also been struck by COVID-19 as the SEC on Wednesday postponed two LSU matches on Nov. 15 and 16 at Alabama. LSU's home matches on Nov. 7-8 against Ole Miss were postponed until Nov. 24-25 because of COVID-19.
LSU punter practices at quarterback
With true freshman quarterback Max Johnson out this week because of a positive COVID-19 test and/or a quarantine, Orgeron said he has had senior punter Zach Von Rosenberg (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) practice at quarterback.
"He was our second team quarterback yesterday," Orgeron said. "That's part of what we've got to do this year. Hey, he threw a touchdown pass. The whole team was cheering."
Von Rosenberg, 30, is a former professional pitcher who did not reach Major League Baseball. In June of 2009, he was drafted in the sixth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of Zachary High School in the Baton Rouge area after transferring from Barbe High in Lake Charles when his family moved. He received a bonus of $1.2 million - the largest in Pirates history for a player who was not a top 25 pick. He chose the Pirates over the LSU baseball team.
Von Rosenberg spent six seasons in the minors before returning to LSU in 2016 and red-shirting. He has been LSU's No. 1 punter since 2017. Von Rosenberg said he played quarterback briefly in high school.
Myles Brennan may be done for year
LSU's only scholarship quarterback healthy is true freshman TJ Finley, who has started LSU's last two games. Junior Myles Brennan has not played since tearing his abdomen and injuring his hip against Missouri on Oct. 10. And he may be done for the season.
"He could be," said Orgeron, who made a similar statement Monday. "We're going to see if he can come back through rehabilitation or go ahead and go through an operation that would help him out. It doesn't look like he'll be back unless some miraculous thing happens. It's his abdomen and a hip."