With concerns mounting about football-related concussions, changes have been made in recent years to the way defenders hit and tackle in the NFL. It’s an ongoing debate, and some of the changes have been controversial.
The changes have been more drastic in the NFL, but the NCAA is implementing new rules, too. Notably, the new “targeting” rule, as examined in a recent series by The Birmingham News, could be a game-changer in college football.
Also, beginning this season, the Pac-12 is expected to be the first conference to mandate limits on contact in practices.
Perhaps with some of that in mind, Boise State is apparently trying to get ahead of the curve as it relates to player safety and tackling. This spring, the Broncos experimented with new tackling techniques with a local rugby team, the Snake River Rugby Club.
“Coach (Chris) Petersen is always trying to get ahead of what’s coming next in the game, and we know that changes are coming because of concussions,” Boise State defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski told RugbyMag.com. “We look at rugby and see they’ve been able to manage it well, and it was really good for us.”
Some of the Snake River players apparently used to play football at Boise State, so there’s a natural connection there. And the coaches said the football players were receptive to the experimental changes.
“Football players are taught to put the helmet into the chest and drive the player back,” Snake River coach Mike Saunders said. “And I know the coaches at Boise State are looking at a different way to go about it because of the issues with concussions.”
It’s hardly an in-depth piece, but it’s interesting nonetheless … and it’ll be interesting to see how, if at all, it translates on the field for the Broncos in the future. Will it matter? Hard to say, but it’s a positive that more coaches are at least attempting to take steps to improve player safety.
Along the same lines, Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel has a piece about the potential injury effects related to the proliferation of hurry-up offenses. After recent grumbling by Alabama’s Nick Saban and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, Mandel talked to researchers who say the SEC coaches may be onto something. Maybe.
Elsewhere, ESPN.com’s Kevin Gemmell has a good primer on what to expect at Pac-12 media day — just two weeks from today in L.A.