It’s been Washington State’s policy to refrain from reporting on team-specific COVID-19 numbers, instead offering totals for the athletic department as a whole.
However, The Spokesman-Review was able to confirm through a source the Cougars have one active case on the football team, after Jon Wilner of The Mercury News reported the information earlier in the day based on anonymous sources.
It’s unclear which position group the active case comes from, but a school spokesperson told reporters on a Zoom call Monday night the player would be out of COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday, meaning he’ll be eligible to practice this week and play against No. 11 Oregon on Saturday at Martin Stadium.
After the opener at Oregon State, first-year coach Nick Rolovich applauded WSU for its perseverance in a 38-28 win despite having 32 players absent – something he brought up unprompted. Rolovich did not initially break down how many of those were COVID-19-related, if any at all, and refused to answer a follow-up question on that topic.
“There’s 32 guys unavailable right now,” Rolovich said, “and that’s kind of where we’re going to leave that. Until the next time, we’ll see if the list changes.”
After he was asked if any of the absences could be traced to COVID-19, Rolovich responded “We’re celebrating a great Pac-12 win. Let’s not talk about that.”
When it was explained to Rolovich that having 32 players unavailable was still a significant story line, the coach said, “I’ve given you four stories: O-line, defense, Jayden (de Laura), Deon (McIntosh). Boom, there’s four days of stories. No corona.”
Though Rolovich didn’t dive into where the 32 cases stemmed from, the coach did say on Monday “I do anticipate to have some of those guys back, yes.”
Athletic director Pat Chun provided his most recent COVID-19 testing numbers on WSU’s pregame radio show, reporting the department’s registered only five positive tests since it began daily antigen testing.
At that point, 4,400 total athletes had been tested. On Oct. 24, the AD told the radio team of Matt Chazanow, Alex Brink, Jessamyn McIntyre and Derek Deis that four athletes had tested positive, meaning one additional positive test emerged between then and Saturday. Chun is expected to deliver another COVID-19 update in the pregame show this Saturday.
When Rolovich was asked Monday if any of the 32 missing players could be traced to COVID-19, the coach said “I don’t know if I want to get into that. I don’t even know if I have the accurate information on that. You can ask Pat that question.”
Borghi still out
It seems unlikely the Cougars will have Max Borghi on the field this Saturday as the All-Pac-12 Conference running back continues to recover from an apparent back injury.
Borghi missed the season-opening win over Oregon State and Rolovich told reporters his junior running back was “unavailable at the moment.”
Asked Monday if he had an update on Borghi, Rolovich answered succinctly: “No.”
In Borghi’s absence, backup running back Deon McIntosh had a career outing, rushing 18 times for 147 yards and one touchdown, becoming the first WSU player with that many rushing yards since Dwight Tardy in 2007.