Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:21 am

Embree: new kickoff rules could be dangerous

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The NCAA adopted rule changes on kickoffs for the 2012 season with the hope of reducing injuries, but not everybody thinks that will be the case. Colorado head coach Jon Embree can see a situation where the new rules may lead to even more injuries on kickoffs than before.

The new rule has kickoffs coming from the 35-yard line rather than the 30, in hopes that more kicks will go through the end zone and lead to a touchback. Coverage teams will only be allowed a 5-yard head start in 2012 as well. Rules that, theoretically, should reduce injuries.

However, it's the fact that touchbacks on kickoffs have been moved from the 20-yard line to the 25 that Embree believes may lead to trouble. He told the Daily Camera that it will lead to coaches kicking short on purpose

"I think you high pooch it and cover it," Embree said. "What I think will happen is if you get effective at that, you're putting the other team even more at risk than what the rule intended because unless he fair catches it, he can really take a shot because everyone is closer obviously.

"It will be interesting to see how that plays out. If you get a guy who can kick it to the 7-yard line every time, you can mishandle it and then you will have collisions. It will be interesting to see if they tweak this rule over time. The returner has to have good judgment and a good feel. You're never used to fair catching kickoffs, even though that is something you can do. There are a lot of timing issues that go into a kickoff return that now you're going to have to figure out as a return guy."

It will be interesting to see if Embree's theory is right this fall, and whether or not coaches will adapt to the rule as he suggests they will, or if they prefer booting the ball through the end zone and taking the risk of a touchdown return out of play. 

Whatever the new kickoff rules lead to, we won't know for sure until, well, kickoff.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 2:49 pm

Nebraska wants brains, BRAINS!

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Nebraska's athletics department will be teaming up a new lab located on the east side of Lincoln's Memorial Stadium. The school's Board of Regents unanimously approved the $5 million project on Friday, and the new lab will open in 2013.

Essentially, what Nebraska is looking to do is to study the effects of head injuries on the brains of athletes. Since my brain is only capable of discussing football-related information (and even that's debatable), I'll just quote the Omaha World-Herald's story to give you the details of the study.
On average, [developmental psychologist Dennis] Molfese said, a college football team suffers 20 to 22 significant head injuries each season. The 12 football teams in the Big Ten thus would create a pool of more than 240 student-athletes to study.

Molfese hopes to obtain baseline pictures of incoming athletes' brains to examine how they change through injury and recovery. He envisions developing iPad applications to diagnose concussions on the field. He wants to study athletes' brain patterns before and after a performance.

Molfese said the Committee on Institutional Cooperation — the Big Ten's academic arm — has received inquiries from the Ivy League, Pac-12 and other conferences about joining the effort. 
So not only could this study help football teams identify concussions faster, it could also help us understand the effects concussions and head injuries have on the brain.

Given what we've only just begun learning about concussions and their long-term effects, the more information that scientists, coaches and players can have at their disposal, the better off everybody is.

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Posted on: September 28, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: September 28, 2011 11:48 am

Kenny Stills will play this weekend

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Oklahoma wide receiver Kenny Stills has spent a lot of time on the sidelines this season. He missed Oklahoma's opener against Tulsa due to a suspension, and was held out of the Sooners win against Missouri on Saturday due to a concussion. In between he did play against Florida State and made the game-winning touchdown catch, so when he's been able to get on the field, he's been productive.

Which is bad news for Ball State, because Stills will be playing for Oklahoma this weekend. He also has a new plan of how to deal with injuries so that he doesn't have to miss any more time this year.

He's going to keep his mouth shut.

"I learned a lesson. I should keep my mouth shut. If I want to be in the game I shouldn't be saying anything. I want to be on the field at all costs," Stills joked on Tuesday.

Stills complained of headaches last week, which is what led Oklahoma doctors to hold him out of the game with the concussion despite Stills begging to play. He made the statement about keeping his mouth shut with a smile on his face, so hopefully he doesn't actually mean he'll hide injuries from the doctors in the future.

Though if we see him wandering aimlessly on the field during a game, I guess we'll know he wasn't.
Posted on: September 26, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 12:43 pm

Texas safety giving up football

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Nolan Brewster is a backup safety for the Texas Longhorns who suffered a concussion during Texas' win against UCLA last weekend. It was not the first time Brewster has suffered a concussion, as he says he's had a history of them along with post-traumatic migraines since he was in high school. This latest concussion, though, Brewster is hoping it will be his last.

The Longhorns announced on Monday that Brewster was giving up football.

“We’re disappointed for Nolan, and I know it was a really difficult decision for him and his family,” said head coach Mack Brown. “I’ve known him since he was a little kid and know he loves this place and playing football for Texas, so this is a tough deal, but his health is the most important thing.”

Brewster had played in all three games for the Longhorns this year, and has played in 30 games in his career. Mack Brown has said that Brewster will remain a part of the Texas program and help the staff.

Brewster is the son of former Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster.
Posted on: August 1, 2011 7:01 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 7:01 pm

Notre Dame mouthguards go high-tech

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Over the last few years in sports we've all started to get a better understanding of concussions and the long-term effects they can have on those who suffer them. Still, even if we're learning more about concussions, there's still a bit more to learn to help ensure the safety of not only college football players, but athletes in all sports.

And Notre Dame is taking a step in helping to figure things out.

When the Irish take the field this season, 22 players will be wearing new mouthguards that can record and report data about the impact of collisions on the field.
The "intelligent mouthguard" by Seattle's X2IMPACT records the g-force of collisions throughout games for 22 specially selected Fighting Irish players.

Once the units are fitted and in place, acceleration and rotation sensors gather real-time in-game data and send it via wireless transmitter to a laptop along the sidelines. That information will be used by medical experts, designers of protective gear, and other professionals to improve player safety by creating better mouthguards, helmets, and so on.
Notre Dame won't be the only school wearing the new mouthguards, either, as Stanford will also be wearing them this season. So when the Irish and Cardinal finish the regular season against one another in November, expect to see a lot of men in white lab coats and glasses in the sidelines alongside the bands.
Posted on: June 9, 2011 12:00 pm

Concussion ends Sooner DT's career

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Oklahoma's defensive line got a bit thinner on Thursday as the school announced that rising sophomore defensive tackle Daniel Noble will no longer play football for Oklahoma, or anybody else. Noble worked his way into the Sooners' defensive line rotation last season as a freshman, but suffered a concussion against Iowa State. Noble missed the rest of the season due to the concussion, and though he returned for spring practice, a setback kept him out of Oklahoma's spring game.

Now, with the effects of the concussion still lingering, Noble has decided to put an end to his football career.

“He's still having trouble,” Bob Stoops told The Oklahoman. “He was a strong, young guy that did well. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get past the injury.” 

This news leaves Oklahoma with only three returning defensive tackles that have any playing experience: Casey Walker, Stacy McGee and Jamarkus McFarland. Redshirt freshman Torrea Peterson is the likely candidate to replace Noble in Oklahoma's rotation. 
Posted on: March 8, 2011 10:54 am

Concussions hampering Ole Miss QB's chances?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This just in: concussions are scary, dangerous things.

Today's latest evidence comes from Oxford, where Ole Miss junior quarterback Randall Mackey, a JUCO transfer who redshirted last season, may have an uphill battle for the starter's job thanks to the aftereffects of a series of concussions:
Way back in an eighth-grade Louisiana football game — that’s when Randall Mackey suffered his first concussion.

“I kind of got hit pretty hard, got kind of ear-holed, or whatever,” Mackey, now a junior quarterback at Ole Miss, said. “I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t remember nothing. I didn’t remember the game. I couldn’t even remember my own birthday. Ever since that, it just stayed with me."

The “it” he’s referring to is this: a confounding, confusing and utterly critical speech impediment. Mackey, who is as pleasant and smooth in a conversation as can be, can suddenly lock up in the huddle, when he’s needing to call a play, or at the line of scrimmage, when the situation calls for an audible.

Clarion-Ledger reporter Kyle Veazey offers more information on Mackey's situation here , noting that Mackey's communication struggles weren't "much of a secret" last fall and that while Mackey says the problems are mostly confined to line-of-scrimmage audibiling, Rebel tailback Branden Bolden said they affected Mackey's calls in the huddle as well.

It's an unfortunate set of circumstances for a player whose eye-popping JUCO statistics and hearty endorsement from Bolden suggests he could make a sizable impact if he could win the job. But even Mackey admits that he hasn't overcome his communication issues so much as simply made up for them with his athleticism, a formula that may work at JUCO but seems unlikely to translate nearly so well to an SEC offense.

Mackey -- who has suffered three concussions in all -- may yet win the Rebel quarterback's role despite his problem. But if not, he may be something of yet another cautionary tale regarding just how badly the sport of football needs a stronger reponse to its concussion problem.

Posted on: November 12, 2010 1:03 pm

Nutt hopes Masoli can play Saturday

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It may be firmly implanted in last place in the SEC West, but if Ole Miss can somehow manage to win two of its last three games, the Rebels will become bowl eligible this season.  Of course, considering that after this week's tilt against Tennessee that the Rebels have to travel to LSU before taking on Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, winning two games isn't going to be easy.

Which means that, realistically, if the Rebels don't beat Tennessee this weekend, they can forget about going to a bowl game.  So it would be nice if they had their starting quarterback available, though nobody is quite sure whether that will be the case. 

Jeremiah Masoli suffered a concussion last week against Louisiana-Lafayette, and is yet to be cleared to play against the Volunteers on Saturday.  Still, Houston Nutt is keeping his fingers crossed.

"I'm hoping (tonight, trainer Tim Mullins) can say he's going to be all right," Nutt told the Clarion-Ledger. "That's what I'm hoping."

Masoli has participated in practice this week, though he has been limited.  While Nutt is hoping that Mullins will clear Masoli to play on Friday night, he also said that it could come on Saturday morning, and that if that is the case, then Masoli will be prepared to play.  If Masoli can't go, Nathan Stanley will start in his place. 

Stanley replaced Masoli last week and completed only 6-of-14 passes for 108 yards.  Odds are that if Stanley does play, you can expect another heavy dose of Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis,  as both running backs rushed for over 100 yards last week.
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