How different will the trip to Hawaii be for the Boise State football team?
The two Hawaii natives on the team, brothers Kekaula and Kaonohi Kaniho, may not even be able to see their family while in town.
Strict COVID-19 restrictions in Honolulu have forced the Broncos to alter their trip, and that means potentially not even allowing players to see family members in the lobby of the hotel before the game.
“This was the game my family had circled back four years ago when we knew we’d be coming here my senior year and especially when my brother committed it would be both of us playing back home on the same team together,” Kekaula Kaniho said. “It’s going to be a bummer. It was going to basically be the whole island coming to support us.”
Boise State has had to navigate a number of issues stemming from a six-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean in the middle of a pandemic. The Broncos typically would fly on Thursday to have the extra day to get used to the three-hour time difference and the change in weather, but didn’t leave this time until Friday afternoon.
That leaves the Broncos only about 24 hours from touchdown to kickoff, a short turnaround both mentally and physically for a bunch of large human beings crammed into small airplane seats for six hours.
“A lot of times we’d get there and have a practice and get acclimated a little bit and let our bodies recover from the travel and then go do something, maybe on Thursday night or Friday morning do something fun as a team like walk along the beach or let the guys go for a couple hours, but that experience is going to be different now,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “We’re going to fly there, get off, go eat, have meetings, and go to bed. We’ll wake up, have meetings, go to our room, have pregame meal and leave to go play the game.”
Boise State’s traveling party has been instructed not to leave the team hotel from the time they arrive on Friday evening until when they board the bus to head for the stadium on Saturday.
“Based off what is happening in Hawaii I think it’s best for us,” Harsin said. “We’re going to be respectful of what they are asking us to do, just basically show up, play the game and leave. That’s really our focus.”
Nobody on Boise State’s roster has played a game at Hawaii and only a handful of players or coaches have ever been there even for vacation.
“Last time I was in Hawaii I was on my honeymoon and that was a long time ago. This is a much different situation,” defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding said. “The quick turnaround kind of is what it is. It’s due to a few things obviously with the situation that we’re in. It’s not like you can land a day early and go do anything.”
The Denver Broncos will likely have quarterback Drew Lock back in action when they visit the New England Patriots on Sunday, but thanks to the latest in a growing list of COVID-19 cases around the NFL, they will be down at least one assistant coach. A day before the team’s Week 6 showdown with the Pats, which is already delayed a week because of separate COVID issues, the Broncos announced that running backs coach Curtis Modkins has contracted COVID-19 and will not travel with the club for the game.
“Curtis is currently at home in self-isolation and experiencing no symptoms,” the Broncos said in a statement, adding that they learned of Modkins’ positive COVID-19 test early Saturday morning. “We have evaluated close contacts, administered necessary point-of-care testing (no positive COVID-19 results) and implemented additional health and safety measures at UCHealth Training Center.”
NFL Network’s James Palmer reports that Modkins recently learned of a family member who tested positive and immediately notified the Broncos, taking “extremely proactive” measures to follow NFL-NFLPA protocols for COVID cases and isolate from the rest of the team.
The status of Modkins, who oversees a running back unit that’ll be without starter Melvin Gordon (illness) against New England, isn’t expected to affect the Broncos-Patriots game on Sunday. New England had its own COVID-19 issue on Friday, cancelling practice because of an additional positive test, but all indications are that the NFL intends for the game to proceed as (re)scheduled.