Thomas Ashworth, Correspondent
Jacksonville State football head coach John Grass spoke in a press conference through Zoom on Tuesday to provide an update on his COVID-19 diagnosis and what he expects for the upcoming matchup against Florida International.
Grass announced last week that he tested positive for COVID-19, just two days before the Gamecocks were set to play the rival North Alabama Lions.
“I feel fine right now,” said Grass. “I have no symptoms of COVID-19 today and I’ve been feeling well.”
Grass said that he is hopeful to return for JSU’s matchup against Florida International this weekend.
“I don’t know what that looks like,” he said. “I can’t make comments about that right now. I’m thinking and praying that’s going to happen.”
Both the guidance of the university and the Centers for Disease Control recommend a ten-day isolation period for COVID-19-positive patients, though the Florida International game is set to take place eight days after Grass announced his diagnosis.
Grass described his frustration with not being able to attend the North Alabama game and knowing he couldn’t help the team out in any way.
“It was frustrating not being there, it was probably one of the most if not the most frustrating things I’ve ever been through in my life, as far as not being able to be there and not being able to help any,” he said.
Asked how he felt about the way the coaching staff managed the team during the North Alabama game on Saturday, Grass praised both the players and the coaching staff, detailing how well they performed despite the circumstances.
“When you’ve got a good program, everything runs whether you’re there or not there,” he said. “It was great to see the guys play the way they did and the staff handle the situation the way they did. I was very, very proud.”
Grass said that Jimmy Ogle, the assistant head coach, did an “outstanding job rallying everybody” in his absence.
“There was a level of uneasiness without me there, and I think he did a good job calming the storm and getting everybody to focus on the game and the task at hand,” he said. “This is a game we all wondered if it would even happen this year. It’s a team we’ve broken down all the way in the offseason.”
Asked about some keys to a Gamecock victory on Saturday against Florida International, Grass had plenty to say on how the offense can get in the endzone more efficiently.
“We have to play well at the line of scrimmage and stop their run so they don’t keep the ball all day,” said Grass. “We also have to be able to run the football. They put a lot in the box and they’re good up front, and they don’t want to let you run the football. We’ve got to continue to have those plays with Coop and Trae and be able to throw the football some as well, so I think balance is a key offensively.”
The team’s next game will be on Oct. 23 in Miami, Fla. when the Gamecocks play against Florida International. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN 3 and broadcast live on WLJS 91.9 FM, the university’s student radio station.