Right now concussions are a hot button topic when it comes to football, and for good reason. Data is piling up that multiple concussions can lead to a myriad of problems later in life. Teams, fans and players are more aware of concussions than ever.
Matt Scott took a shot or two to the head on a QB keeper against USC.
That awareness is the main reason that Monday’s normal football press session started with comments from Athletic Director Greg Byrne. Byrne revealed that Matt Scott suffered a concussion against UCLA and went through some of the steps that allowed him to be cleared after taking a head shot against USC.
“As you can imagine, this is an issue that is a hot topic on a national scale,” said Byrne. “This isn’t the first concussion we’ve had in our department, and it won’t be the last. We knew there was a lot of attention directed on this one. We thought it was important to come out and talk about it.”
Because we’ve all become hyper sensitive to concussions, we now seem to be looking for them. However, many have forgotten that NOT EVERY HARD HIT TO THE HEAD RESULTS IN A CONCUSSION. In fact, sometimes it is the unusual hit that causes the worst concussions.
Against USC, I saw a series of tweets from fans that assumed Scott had suffered a concussion on that fourth quarter hit to the head. That was not a huge leap to make after Scott vomited, but a series of those tweets came from fans BEFORE television caught Scott losing his lunch. Obviously, throwing up is a symptom of having a concussion, so that was the logical leap. However, many seem to feel that any hard blow to the head HAS to be a concussion and that is not the case.
I have suffered two concussions in my life. Neither came from the hardest hits I took to the head. The worst happened in a “bull in the ring drill” where one player “ear-holed” me, causing me to stumble. A second player then drilled me in the back of the head. I got knocked over, but never even had a headache. I’ve been drilled with helmet-to-helmet hits on a few occasions.
When I played Pop Warner and high school football we were all warned not to spear, but helmet-to-helmet contact was an after thought.
My first concussion came in contact that was not dissimilar to what happened to Scott on Saturday. While playing goalie in hockey I made an aggressive move to try to smother the puck of a player on a break. As I went down for the puck, he kneed me in the facemask. As I fell I hit the back of my head on the rink. I did not think much of it at the time. I was shaken up and finished the game, but after the game I realized I had a “fog” around the periphery of my vision, a lot like dream sequences from 1960’s sitcoms. The fog lasted a few days.
It was getting hit from two directions, though neither hit was that hard, that caused the concussion. Not unlike Scott hitting a UCLA player’s knee after being hit from behind.
Matt Scott took some real hits from the USC defense.
My second concussion came in a car accident, where I hit the steering wheel, then hit the seat back. Again, it was the sudden change in direction that seemed to cause the damage.
I am glad we are cognizant of concussions and I think it is good that fans and writers are questioning when it seems that players are possibly being rushed back on the field. We also have to keep in mind that teams have medical personnel that have great training and have a lot at stake if they rush concussed players back into action.
“The issue of concussions, not just in football but in all sports, I think is a big topic,” said Rich Rodriguez. “There are a lot of conversations about it; a lot of medical staffs like ours have done a lot of research. I know Randy Cohen, our athletic trainer, did a lot of research and attended a lot of seminars this summer. We have a great medical staff. Randy and I talked a lot about concussions before the camps started. Our medical staff does an outstanding job, not only for treating our athletes but being aware of what is new and modern of what is out there right now.”
It now appears that Scott was not concussed against USC, but has a concussion now. His status for the Colorado game this Saturday is very much up in the air.
“Matt will be observed and evaluated daily,” Byrne explained. The final decision on whether or not he is going to play will be made by our medical staff. His status will be shared with the Thursday injury report, as well.”
Although Rodriguez said the team likes players to get reps on Wednesday and Thursday to play Saturday, you get the feeling that if he does manage to get cleared, he would play regardless of how much practice time he receives.
“If Matt is cleared to go Saturday and everything is good, I think Matt can play well without a whole lot of reps,” explained Rodriguez. “That is all hypothetical so I am not thinking about that right now.”
What he is likely thinking about is getting B.J. Denker ready to play the Buffaloes and try to get Arizona bowl eligible.
“B.J. is playing alright,” said Rodriguez. “I think his decision making, his demeanor, and his command on what we are asking him to do is good. It is kind of a tough situation to go in when we are that far behind. I thought he made a couple good decisions and a couple good throws. He has a good grasp on what we are doing offensively.”