Football

Big 12 reduces full-contact tackling days

Concussion worry leads Big 12 Conference to set two-a-week limit

Posted July 21st, 2015

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Story highlights
  • New rules allow for only two full-contact practices per week.
  • NCAA guidelines allow for three, but league stressing even more safety.

DALLAS — TCU’s James McFarland knows that quarterback Trevone Boykin is off-limits at practice.

“Of course, he’s not getting taken to the ground,” the Horned Frogs’ returning sack leader said Monday. “For everybody else, it’s open season.”

Big 12 athletic directors took an unusual step this offseason and voted to limit the number of times teams can have full-contact practices, which means taking ball carriers to the ground.

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Starting this year, Big 12 teams can go full contact only twice a week, and one of those is game day. The NCAA limits teams to three contact days per week. All of this is the result of the new focus on concussions.

The new rule, first reported by the American-Statesman in June, was somewhat of a shock to players attending Big 12 media days. Many hadn’t heard of it, only finding out via social media as they traveled to Dallas.

“I’m so used to hitting all the time,” Kansas State lineman Cody Whitehair said. “The competition we get in our practice carries over to the game. You want that. You want toughness and all that. If you practice that, it’s more likely to carry over in the games.”

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said coaches “weren’t using them anyway,” meaning the extra day of hitting. “It doesn’t alter anything that we have done, so we don’t have to make any changes from that respect,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said.

Most teams practice hard only twice a week – usually Tuesday and Wednesday – then dial things back leading up to Saturday.

“There’s a lot of wear and tear that goes on during the course of the football season,” Bowlsby said. “I don’t think that we’re going to find that this is a disadvantage.”

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said,”You’ve got to protect the kids as much as you possibly can, but you can’t lose sight of the fact it’s a physical game.”

The NFL has greatly restricted how many times teams can hold full-contact practices once the regular season begins.

“I think it’s good the Big 12’s putting this rule in and taking a page from the NFL in how they treat their players,” West Virginia lineman Tyler Orlosky said.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957.

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