UW football is back – with a lot of safety changes

UW football is back – with a lot of safety changes

SEATTLE — The Huskies are back on the University of Washington campus and on the football field practicing. But things look a lot different. Just like the NFL, players in the PAC-12 are getting tested for COVID every day.

Players are practicing in masks, at least for now. Come game time, the stands will be empty. And you can forget about locker rooms or tailgates. But the team -- and Huskies fans -- are just excited there’s going to be a season at all.

“We are fired up we get to play football,” said Huskies Head Coach Jimmy Lake.

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The whole team is back after months of uncertainty over whether a football season would happen at all. Players who arrived on campus last Monday quarantined for a week and started practicing Sep. 28.

“At this point this point of the roller coaster, we’re at the top right now, we are extremely excited,” Lake said.

The practice happening now is still without pads and helmets – but the extra gear you will see is face coverings for everyone.

“We’ve been able to keep the virus out of our facilities this whole entire time. I feel very safe,” said Cade Otton, Huskies tight end.

All players get tested for COVID every day before they enter the building or field. Pac-12 schools are using Quidel Corporation’s rapid COVID test that gives results in 15 minutes.

“What it does, is it stops the contact tracing. Where you have to eliminate players who do not have the virus,” Lake said.

Huskies defensive back Elijah Molden says times aren’t easy.

“Right now, it’s more tough than it ever has been to stay dialed in and focused, but trying to stay focused on what I can control,” Molden said.

Part of that is helping make sure younger players stay responsible -- off the field too.

“Could definitely see as a younger player new to the college scene, I can see how it’s difficult to not go out and have fun,” Molden said. “As a leader, I’ve got to remind people what our goal is as a team.”

Students tell KIRO7 having a football season at all is a morale boost in these uncertain times.

“It is exiting to be able to watch them and feel like we have something to root for,” said Zoe Bodovinitz, a UW sophomore. She also plays picadillo in the Husky Marching Band, which will not be playing at games this season.

“Football is really big here, and I think it’s something that can bring all the students together,” said Stephen Johnson, another UW sophomore.

The Huskies will play their first game on Nov. 6 or Nov. 7 – the schedule is expected to be released this week.

Whether players will be masked during full-gear practice (starting next week) or during games is still being decided.