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Contact tracing could leave Tennessee shorthanded against Florida

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Tough situation.

NCAA Football: Florida at Tennessee Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

COVID-19 has taken center stage in the second half of this college football season. From active cases to contract tracing, leagues have been forced to take action and move games around. It’s happened to Tennessee twice, with games against Texas A&M and Vanderbilt postponed.

With three games left, the SEC is just hoping that there’s a way to get each game in. Per Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee had two positives following the game against Auburn two weekends ago, which has changed things around the program for the past several days.

“We’ve had two guys test positive but it dates back to when we came back from Auburn, but unfortunately with the contact tracing that number has grown a pretty good bit there,” Pruitt said on Monday. “It’s knocked us out of a lot of the guys, which they’ll start coming back in here toward the end of this week.”

After holding guys out of practice due to contact tracing, Tennessee hasn’t seen anymore positive cases, however. That’s a good sign for the Florida matchup this weekend, but it sounds like plenty of players have missed out on practice and gameplanning.

“We’ve not had any new COVID positives from our last testing (Sunday),” Pruitt continued. “We do have some guys that are in quarantine that won’t be able to practice this week, but will be able to play on game day. It’s an unusual circumstance, but we’re working through it and the next guys are getting ready to play. We’ve got a full week this week and we’re excited about playing Florida.”

Pruitt also noted that one of the positives was a quarterback, but he didn’t mention which one. Both Jarrett Guarantano and Harrison Bailey saw action against Vanderbilt. Brian Maurer didn’t travel with the team for the game.

“We’ve had one (quarterback) that’s been affected,” Pruitt confirmed. “Listen, the whole part of it is I’ve tried to be as transparent as we can with it. We can’t say exactly who, but these guys that are out there practicing are working hard to create chemistry with our guys, so we’ll continue to do that this week.”

Per 247Sports, the two positives were starters on defense.

2020 has provided unique challenges for every program in America, and it sounds like Tennessee is in for one of their more difficult weeks of the season. The staff won’t tell us anything, rightfully so, so we’ll see who takes the field on Saturday. The challenging part is the preparation side of things, which makes it particularly difficult to gameplan and develop players.

Tennessee and Florida are scheduled to kickoff at 3:30 p.m. ET in Knoxville. CBS will have the coverage.