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COVID already impacting Alabama football opener against Missouri, more could come

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports
Alabama head football coach Nick Saban leads his team onto the field before a Southeastern Conference game against Mississippi on Sept. 28 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already impacted the first game of Alabama’s 2020 season. In the nine days between now and kickoff, it could do more damage.

On the same day that Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said at least 12 players will miss the Alabama game for “COVID-related reasons,” UA coach Nick Saban said the Crimson Tide don't have anyone that will definitely miss the game yet, but could closer to kickoff.

Saban has not released any details about the team’s COVID testing numbers or participation reports, but opened the possibility of doing so later.

“Not yet, because we don’t really have anybody that I know would be out for sure for the game,” Saban said. “We haven’t really discussed it. I’m sure when we get into game week and we figure out exactly who can and who can’t, we’ll let you know.”

When Drinkwitz revealed 12 players would miss the Alabama game, he said the number could rise between now and Sept. 26, as the Tigers did more testing on Wednesday.

Saban’s comments came on the day he revealed UA is now testing daily for COVID-19.

“We just thought that it gives the players a better peace of mind, it’s the best thing for the players, it’s the best thing for the program,” Saban said. “We have the capabilities and resources to do it, so we’re happy to do it.”

On Sept. 8, Drinkwitz said four players were positive with 14 more out due to injury, quarantine or contact tracing. At the time, four was the highest number of COVID-19 cases since preseason practice began, according to Eric Blum of the USA Today Network.

Saban did add that some players may not be healthy enough to play on Sept. 26, one of them being defensive lineman Christian Barmore. The redshirt sophomore nose guard suffered a knee injury earlier in preseason practice. Saban said he is hopeful Barmore can do some things in practice starting next Monday.

It remains too early to tell if Barmore will play against Missouri or not. If he is unable, UA will still have sophomore DJ Dale in the interior, and could use Phidarian Mathis and LaBryan Ray there, as well. Redshirt sophomore Stephon Wynn Jr. and true freshman Jamil Burroughs, at 310 and 326 pounds, respectively, also fit the mold of nose guards if depth is tested beyond Barmore.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson.