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Pac-12 trialing new concussion protocol involving virtual reality goggles

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The Pac-12 has been an early adopter of virtual reality to help improve the football product on the field the last several years so it makes plenty of sense that the conference is also going to use the technology to help keep players safer when they’re unable to go back between the lines due to concussions.

Schools like Stanford have had players virtually run through plays and get reps without actually getting physical reps for several seasons now and many more programs across the country and across the sport have followed suit. Earlier this summer at Pac-12 Media Day for example, both Cardinal head coach David Shaw and tailback Bryce Love noted the Heisman front-runner was able to still stay mentally engaged with spring practice even as he sat out the entire session to return to 100% health. Now the hope is that same technology can also help players who suffer concussions can more accurately be diagnosed and treated.

The San Jose Mercury News’ Jon Wilner has a terrific writeup on the whole project the Pac-12 is undertaking, which has support from the NCAA and even the Department of Defense. The piece has a ton of details on everything from funding to what the project is eventually going to turn into but the short of it is that players will don VR goggles and will eventually go through a series of tests to establish a baseline. That baseline, which will be put into a database, can then be used to determine quickly whether a player has a concussion during a game and can help guide the treatment process.

“Research shows that proper recovery limits the chances of a secondary concussion, and that the sooner a player is removed from play, the faster the recovery,’’ said Matthew McQueen, an associate professor at Colorado and the director of the Pac-12’s Concussion Coordinating Unit. “We’ve found that concussion recovery has a signature eye movement.”

The data collected in the project will not only help the players themselves as they deal with a very serious issue affecting the sport right now, but also should help further even more research into concussions and their treatment. Eventually the VR goggles treatment will be done with every player in the conference but for now it will just be Colorado, Washington, Oregon State, USC and Utah who will be submitting data into the database. Other schools and sports will eventually be phased in.

It goes without saying that this is one of the biggest issues in the game right now and it certainly seems as though the Pac-12 doesn’t mind being out on the leading edge when it comes to dealing with it either.

Matt Wells adds former assistant Mark Tommerdahl as special teams coach at Texas Tech

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Texas Tech officially announced the hiring of Mark Tommerdahl to be the new special teams coach for the Red Raiders on the staff led by Matt Wells. Tommerdahl takes on the title of associate head coach as well as special teams coordinator and assistant offensive line coach.

Wells previously had Tommerdahl as a special teams coach at Utah State in 2017. Tommerdahl spent the 2018 season as special teams and tight ends coach at Purdue. He has had previous stops at Cal, Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, Alabama, TCU, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Wyoming during his coaching career since 1984.

During their one season together at Utah State in 2017, Wells and Tommerdahl had a special teams unit that ranked fourth in the nation in blocked punts and owned a top 25 kickoff return defense. Last year, Tommerdahl’s Purdue special teams ranked 39th in punting (while Texas Tech ranked 61st) and 29th in punt return defense (Texas Tech was 40th). Purdue kicked just one kickoff out of bounds last season, while Texas Tech kicked six kickoffs out of bounds.

Troy LB Tron Folsom says he will enter NCAA transfer portal

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One of Troy’s top defensive players will be looking to play somewhere new in 2019. Tron Folsom announced he will enter his name in the NCAA transfer portal to begin evaluating any potential options for his final year of eligibility on the football field.

“After talking it over with my family, I will enter my name in the transfer porta and re-open my recruitment as a graduate transfer in the spring,” Folsom said in a message posted on his Twitter account on Friday. “I have no specific schools in mind and will be open minded during this process.”

As a graduate transfer, Folsom will be eligible to play immediately for whatever his new program may be this fall. He will have just one year of eligibility remaining after playing in a total of 38 games for Troy over the past three seasons.

Folsom recorded 9.0 tackles for a loss among his 82 total tackles for the Trojans last season. Folsom also had three sacks and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

30-year old Aussie punter from Maryland enters transfer portal

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After starting each of Maryland’s last 24 games, punter Wade Lees is ready to explore his potential options. According to a report on Friday, Lees has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal, allowing him to be in contact with other programs who may be in need of a new punter on their football roster.

The oldest player in the Big Ten last season, Lees has one year of eligibility remaining.

Lees punted 67 times with a punting average of 40.93 yards per punt last season for Maryland.  He punted five times inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in a game against Penn State last November. It was the second time he had downed five punts inside the 20-yard line in a game during his Maryland career. In 2017, Lees punted 64 times for an average of 39.23 yards per punt. Those numbers put him right about in the middle of the Big Ten punting categories with the second-highest average number of punts per game. Lees started for Maryland for all 13 games played in his freshman season of 2016 as well.

With Lees potentially on the move, Maryland’s roster has just one player listed as a punter on the official team roster published online. Bentley Faulkner, who did not appear in a game in 2018 as a true freshman, figures to take over the punting duties during spring football practices. Expect Maryland head coach Mike Locksley to try adding a punter before the fall, if just for depth as the worst-case scenario.

Mike Leach’s final lecture will stream live through the magic of the internet

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Technology is a wonderful thing. And because of it, we’ll all be able to witness to Mike Leach instructing his class this spring semester at Washington State. Specifically, the world will be invited to observe the final session of Leach’s course, Leadership Lessons in Insurgent Warfare and Football Strategies, in late April.

Leach’s course is an extracurricular course being offered by Washington State with four separate sessions beginning in late March. The course is only available to WSU students, of course, but WSU knows there is much to be gained by allowing Leach’s class to be viewed by others outside of Pullman.

According to a statement released by Washington State, the final session will summarize all four previous lectures and there will be a live Q&A session. Those watching the live feed will be invited to submit questions in text form for the Q&A too.