Tuesday, October 29, 2013

KU’s Tony Pierson still not well

Kansas trainers attend to injured running back Tony Pierson on the sidelines. PIerson left the game during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas trainers attend to injured running back Tony Pierson on the sidelines. PIerson left the game during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, at Memorial Stadium.


Just three days after returning to the huddle following a two-week absence, Kansas University receiver Tony Pierson was nowhere to be found on KU’s latest depth chart, released Tuesday by coach Charlie Weis.

Pierson, who did not play in losses to TCU and Oklahoma after suffering a concussion during the second half of KU’s loss to Texas Tech on Oct. 5, played just three snaps last weekend against Baylor before leaving the game for good because of dizziness, which came on despite Pierson not being hit.

“I’m concerned,” Weis said Tuesday when asked about Pierson’s status. “There’s nothing medically keeping him from playing. Maybe I’m old-fashioned. Maybe I’m overly concerned. But when a kid’s out there for three plays and he’s dizzy and he hasn’t gotten hit, you better be concerned. Especially when he’s had his head knocked around a couple times in a calendar year.”

Pierson’s absence during last week’s loss to Baylor severely limited KU’s offensive game plan, and the offense as a whole has looked noticeably different without its leading receiver in both yards (327) and receptions (21) in the lineup. But Weis emphasized Tuesday that he would not put Pierson back on the field until he was confident the injury was behind Pierson.

“I could’ve put him day-to-day,” Weis said. “He’s listed as questionable. There’s nothing on the medical report that keeps him from playing. But the odds of me playing him are slim to none. ... The next time Tony goes out there will be where he’s totally convinced that (a) he’s healthy and (b) that he’s not gonna get hurt. He will not see the field one second until we get to that time.”

Heeney to return

While the Pierson news was bad for KU’s offense, the Kansas defense recently received some good news when it learned junior linebacker Ben Heeney was expected back for this weekend. Heeney, KU’s third leading tackler, missed the past two games because of a knee injury.

“He wanted to play last week,” Weis said. “Right till Friday, he (was) still trying to get ready to go. But he wasn’t really ready to let it loose in a game that was gonna be played in space. Now you got him back for the team that’s gonna try to pound ya, which is his game. I think giving him the little extra rest matched up well for getting him back for a game plan that I think is gonna need him.”

Asked what kind of lift the defense could get from Heeney’s return, assistant defensive backs coach Scott Vestal was clear about Heeney’s impact.

“He plays till the echo of the whistle,” Vestal said. “This kind of game, it’s in Heeney’s wheelhouse. He’s a physical guy, and he likes it rough.”

More O-line tweaks

For the fourth week in a row, KU will open Saturday’s game at Texas — 2:30 p.m. on Jayhawk TV — with the same five offensive linemen.

However, behind that group, the Jayhawks continue to shake things up while looking to put the best players on the field. After spending much of the past two seasons as a guard, senior Randall Dent has moved outside as the back-up to Pat Lewandowksi at left tackle. With fellow senior Riley Spencer backing up Aslam Sterling at right tackle, Weis said he felt good about having experienced guys ready to go at a position of need.

“We haven’t been real pleased with the physicality that we’ve been getting at the tackle position,” Weis said Tuesday. “We’ve been fine with the assignments, not the physicality. By having two veteran guys, in Riley and Randall, backing up the two tackle positions, we know that if we need to put another guy in just to play physical (we can).”

Sophomore Damon Martin is listed as the back-up to Ngalu Fusimalohi and Mike Smithburg at both guard spots and sophomore Dylan Admire continues to back up senior Gavin Howard at center.


Brett McCabe 8 years, 6 months ago

It's too bad that we can't just redshirt Tony and give him time to recover.

I feel like any kid who doesn't play in half of the games of the season due to injury should be granted an extra year. If the NCAA is worried about abuse, then put in some requirements of 3rd-party medical opinions or put a limit on how many medical redshirts are allowed per team or some other rule.

Football is a rough sport, I'm not sure why we rush kids through their eligibility so fast.

Lance Cheney 8 years, 6 months ago

Agreed. I don't even know the exact rule on medical redshirts. How many games can you play and still receive one? I know I've seen people play in several games and still get one.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 6 months ago

I think that the magic number is 4 games. You can appear in 4 games and still be eligible for an RS. I read this earlier when Weis was talking about Cox and Faifili being likely medical redshirt candidates. That said... appearing for 3 snaps against Baylor may have pushed TP over the limit.

W Keith Swinehart II 8 years, 6 months ago

Bad news about Pierson, but I like the coaches looking out for their players....and, not only head injuries. Take good care of Tony.

Lance Cheney 8 years, 6 months ago

Hopefully this doesn't have any long-term effects on his potential NFL career.

And great news about Heeney returning. Hope he can stay healthy. The dude's a beast.

W Keith Swinehart II 8 years, 6 months ago

I don't know if anyone can read the attached Wall Street Journal link without a subscription. It is interesting reading about kids (5-21) returning from concussion injuries, and underscores Weis's concerns in bringing Tony Pierson back too soon from his recent injury. The referenced study targets football as among the sports with the highest incidence of concussion.

While the study stresses caution it, unfortunately, has no clearcut guidelines on the level or duration of rest needed following the injury. It merely justifies the need for concern, and calls for "more and better data."

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