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Andy Hodges

Yurachek on plans bringing players back and how they can use a football

If nothing else, it was clear from Hunter Yurachek’s press conference Wednesday morning and a later appearance on ESPN Arkansas and how players can use balls but coaches can’t watch.



If nothing else, it was clear from Hunter Yurachek’s press conference Wednesday morning and a later appearance on ESPN Arkansas they have a plan to get players back working out but it’s not in concrete.

The entire Covid-19 situation is a constantly moving target and there likely isn’t a solution anytime soon. The best vaccines for respiratory viral infections in history have only been 60 percent effective, so living with it is something we may all have to get used to.

Even Yurachek, who appears to be fairly aware of that. Like some of us, he’s wearing a mask when he might be in close proximity to people because, well, it doesn’t hurt anything.

“I’ve got four masks now,” he told Derek Ruscin and Zach Arns (Ruscin & Zach) on ESPN Arkansas after his earlier press conference. “People a great deal smarter than me are recommending I wear a mask. I don’t want it to not be a college football season because I’m not wearing a mask.”

That’s the same approach some of us have taken, too. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. Regardless, I’m not making a stand on that hill.

The Razorbacks will have players back on campus for on-campus workouts starting June 8. It is a phased-in approach, Yurachek said, that is custom-made for the Hogs in accordance with state guidelines.

Yurachek met with about 150 parents the last couple of evenings on Zoom and none have had problems sending their kids back to Fayetteville.

“If they’re like me and had their kids living at home the last seven or eight weeks they are ready to get them out of the house,” Yurackek said with a grin, while saying he was doing that “with some levity.”

Right now, the rules by the NCAA don’t allow balls to be used at practices. Of course that really means the players can’t use balls from the school.

“All of these games are played with balls,” Yurachek said at his press conference. “At some point in time you’ve got to be able to have access to that piece of your game to hone your craft.”

While the rules right now don’t permit any of the coaches to watch, the way he said he removed any doubt he’s pretty sure the players will find a way to work out with the tools of their sport.

“If Feleipe Franks has a football and he gathers his receivers together and they find a place to go throw balls, they can have access to balls,” Yurachek said. “We just can’t have oversight of that and our coaches can’t be involved in that process.

“I think you’ll see the leaders of all our teams, football, soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball take some onus on themselves to figure that out.”

Unlike some other teams in the SEC, the Hogs will not be testing players upon their return to campus. It will be if they have symptoms such as a fever above 100.4 and have had exposure.

“We have a plan that is customized to the State of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas,” Yurachek said.

If they show symptoms, players will be tested and if positive quarantined with their roommates for a period of time to see if they develop symptoms.

Yurachek made it clear a couple of positive tests isn’t going to shut things down.

“I was very candid with the parents,” Yurachek said of his Zoom meetings with them. “I told them that there will be a student-athlete that tests positive for Covid-19 on our campus.

“We’re equipped to handle that. We have a plan to handle that. And all we can do is mitigate their risk. There’s a great deal of onus that’s going to come on the shoulders our of student-athletes.”

Don’t ask about how many fans will be able to come to games. Yurachek doesn’t know right now. They are planning — physically and financially — to have a complete seasons in all sports.

How that plays out will probably be determined over the next month.


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