With three players sick, Urban Meyer concerned about flu outbreak
With outbreaks of the flu spreading throughout college football teams across the nation, add Florida coach Urban Meyer to the list of coaches who are extremely concerned about the possibility with his team as the Gators prepare to travel to Kentucky this week.
Three Gators, TE Aaron Hernandez, RB Jeff Demps and DE Jermaine Cunningham all suffered from either the flu or flu-like symptoms last week. All played sparingly in Saturday’s victory over Tennessee.
"It is a panic level of proportion I've never seen before,’’ Meyer said Sunday. “That's coming from me. You hear about, I think, Wisconsin had 40 players. Ole Miss had 20 players. My wife, with her great insight, said, 'Do you realize the Swine Flu and everything is hitting the Florida campus last week?' My gosh.
"We're trying the best we can, but it's real,'' Meyer said. "We had guys miss time. We had three of our best players. One shouldn't have played. If it's anybody other than Jeff Demps, they said he probably couldn't function. And Jeff did not look right. Aaron Hernandez didn't play like Aaron Hernandez. And Jermaine didn't play like Jermaine. They were beat up pretty good."
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks is also concerned. Brooks said Sunday that Antwane Glenn, a sophomore defensive tackle, has flu symptoms and was sent home from team activities and they are hoping to contain it.
"I would think almost every team this year in our league, let alone around the country probably is going to be impacted in one or more games by the flu,'' Brooks said. "And it could be a costly effect, depending on how many and who they are.''
Duke, Tulane, Washington State, Mississippi and Wisconsin are among the schools who have dealt with large numbers of players who have come down with either seasonal flu symptoms or those associated with the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flue. The symptoms include fever, coughing, body aches and sore throats.
At Ole Miss, nearly 30 players missed practice time during the Rebels’ Sept. 12 bye week, including QB Jevan Snead and RB Dexter McCluster.
“Our training staff and doctors are attacking this as hard as we can,’’ Meyer said. “That Purell stuff's everywhere. You can't walk down the hallway without everybody telling you to do this, do this. We're trying the best we can, but it's real. We had guys miss time. We had three of our best players. One shouldn't have played. If it's anybody other than Jeff Demps, they said he probably couldn't function. And Jeff did not look right. Aaron Hernandez didn't play like Aaron Hernandez. And Jermaine didn't play like Jermaine. They were beat up pretty good."
Meyer said he'll meet with medical staff today and find out whether more players will be put in isolation this week. Hernandez and Cunningham were isolated last week.
"I think Hernandez is on the back half,'' Meyer said. "We're worried about Dempsy because he's on the front half of it. We go to the extremes. They get a separate dorm room for them. They get a separate hotel room for them. They put them right on whatever the flu stuff is. Our guys, our team doctors, they're on it as fast as you can get on it."