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Of concussions and Scott

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.”

  • NogalesJerry

    Perhaps Scott could reach out to Willie Tuitama for some pointers......if Willie remembers he was ever a Wildcat, that is.

  • Good story, Brad. Here's hoping that Denker can play mistake-free ball (or close to it) and Ka'Deem can rack up enought first half yards and scores to carry us to victory. Otherwise we might look pretty impotent without Scott. But I hope he's able to sit this week and get himself 100% for Utah, because that game is going to be a real B to win.

    Playsignature image

    God Hates Arizona Football.

  • BradAllis

    Would not shock me to see Denker get the nod either way and if Scott is clear, only use him in an emergency.

    Editor-In-Chief of Wildcat Sport Report and co-host of the Arizona football and basketball pre and postgame shows on 1290 KCUB.

  • Gary Randazzo

    I tend to agree. Arizona should be able to beat Colorado without Scott, particularly if the entire team regained the chip on their shoulder after the UCLA meltdown. Besides, this entire season now boils down to at Utah and home to ASU. I would assume if Scott had a choice he'd want to play in all 3, but it's likely more important for him to get 100% healthy for the road game at Utah.

    WSR Publisher National Basketball Recruiting Analyst Football Writers Association of America U.S. Basketball Writers Association

  • Blows to the head work differently from a true concussion. I've taken a near-knockout, which I suspect Matt had against USC. Usually, a few minutes' head-clearance, and you're good to go. Concussions on the other hand, are just scary and dangerous. I've had two.

    The first was in high school at practice. Our fullback and I at middle linebacker, good friends, met head-on. His thigh pad was coming up as my head went down. I made a good lift-tackle and put him on his back. I stood up, and heard a loud nasty buzzing. As I would be told later, that was a big signal. I shook my head; the coach asked if we were ok because it was a hellacious collision. I kept playing. My feet felt lighter and lighter. After a few minutes, I had some trouble seeing, as my eyes seemed to be looking down two narrow milky tunnels, white to the outsides, sometimes almost clouding over. I felt oddly good, but I knew there was trouble, so I asked the coach to look at my eyes. He told me right then--- "you have a concussion. Go in, have someone pick you up. Later tonight you're going to get nauseous. Go to the hospital if that happens."

    Sure enough, two hours later, my dad and I were at the hospital with our family doctor, and as luck would have it, with his friend, a neurosurgeon. They both examined me. The surgeon said he was pretty sure I had a concussion. He tapped my knee, and I kicked him in the chest. By then he was certain. :)

    Two weeks' rest, and I was back for a game.

    The second one was in college.......we played UTEP at El Paso, and I was hit by a 250-pound forearm. head just rocked back, and there was the buzzing.....which the neurosurgeon had told me the last time, was my brain bleeding. It's very loud and fast.....ZZZZZZZZt. Then it stops...if you're lucky. I took myself out. It was the fourth quarter, we were way ahead, so I figured it was ok. :) I threw up seven times on the way back to Tucson. I was off another two weeks. I had never told anyone at the University about the high school experience, afraid they would keep me out longer.

    So...concussions affect each patient differently, they can be mild or very severe. They are nothing to screw with. Advances in medical surveillance and treatment have so much improved, that it's night and day. If some remember my comments when Scott got hit at USC, the above is probably why I was a bit testy about the subject and speculation.

    I have no advice for Matt. He's in far better hands than my babble would contribute. He'll be back, when he's back. They won't let him near a play until he's ready.


  • I think your are right RBob1, Matt will be back when he is ready.

    It is hard to read about your concussions and feel good about it, but I appreciate you sharing. Football is a violent game, but sometimes all that violence end with consequences that are tough on individuals. I know that it comes with the territory, but that doesn't mean we all like that part. Just as I expect Matt to, I hope that you had the best care to overcome and mitigate future complications from your concussions.

  • A 250 lb forearm would knock me silly also! Thanks I'm here all day...

    In all seriousness, thanks for sharing that experience Rbob1.

    Time to nut up or shut up

  • Rbob1 points to a couple of things that make a difference. His folks were smart enough to get him to a doctor. Secondly, he shook it off and kept playing the first time. Shaking it off has been standard procedure for a long time. We used to refer to it as a concussion and a "severe" concussion. The definition of severe was I don't think he can play and we better get him to a doctor. Often it was considered a "mild" concussion and take it easy and let me know when you are ready to go back in.

    Having guys like Rbob1 remaining close to the team is a good point of reference as he can watch the coaches and players as they react to these situations in real time.

    I would be surprised if Denker or another sub doesn't get the lion's share of the snaps against Colorado. We need to win the game and we need to get some of the second line players some quality experience. That goes for all players including running backs. I just don't see Colorado beating us under any circumstances. Our defense should have a fun game with this group. Rbob1 might even enjoy strapping them on for this one.

    I look forward to a hot but successful day on Saturday.

  • Hot? It's a high of 62 for Saturday

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