College Football 2012: Texas Tech and Tommy Tuberville Treat Concussions Right
2. Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville believes the new sensitivity to head injuries in football will render obsolete the current methods of game preparation. “It is really going to change the course of football and how it is played and how you practice it,” Tuberville said. Protocols are so strict, he said, that “You’re going to see a lot of guys miss games, more than you ever have.” One other thing: “Get ready,” said Tuberville, a long-time defensive coach. “You’re going to have a lot more touchdowns.”
It was an interesting point and one that, as we've seen with the recent "retirements" of UCLA's Paul Larimore and Minnesota's Jimmy Gjere, is a very real part of college football. The strict protocol is a good thing because practice injuries can end a career the same way a game injury can. As for the effect on practice, Tuberville is dealing with that right now as Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported earlier this month:
Some of Texas Tech’s key players with concussion histories are going to be participating in preseason practice on a non-contact basis only. Nickel back Tre Porter and inside receiver Austin Zouzalik, both of whom suffered concussions late last season, are in red jerseys — meaning no contact. So is split end Eric Ward, who had a concussion last year during August workouts.
Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said they won’t hit until the first game.
That will have an effect on practice. Tre Porter won't be tackling until things get live for the Red Raiders. Zouzalik and Ward will not be catching with hits coming until September 1st. That's a real impact for the ball club. However, it is great to see that Texas Tech is handling things the right way.
“Those guys are just a step away from ending their careers if they’ve had concussions. So we keep an eye on them.”
Tuberville, not a man of many words, puts it about as bluntly as it can be stated. A big shot in on a Sunday before the season and Porter could be walking away from the sport for good. A collision on an August Wednesday, and Ward could be forced to walk away from the game forever. Protecting the players where you can is a smart move and while it will alter the way Texas Tech practices, it is worth it.
Games are games. Once the whistle blows and the clock goes live, whatever happens, happens. Practice is an environment that coaches have more control over and they should be exercising this control.
For years coaches have worked to protect knees and ankles by "staying off legs" during practices. Now, with hit counts and limited to no contact practices, they can do the same for head injuries.
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