By Will Vandervort.
Protective pads around helmet limit concussions by 33 percent
By Will Vandervort
Josh Watson was a little taken back yesterday when he found out they were going to be wearing “Guardian Caps” on top of their helmets for a little extra protection when eighth-ranked Clemson opened up training camp Friday night.
“It kind of looks like the Ninja Turtle on top of our heads,” the Clemson defensive tackle chuckled.
The guardian protective helmet covers are extra padding players are wearing around their helmet in hopes of preventing concussions. Supposedly, the extra protection cuts down on concussions by 33 percent.
The extra padding is being worn in practice because research has proven most concussions occur during practice time. Unfortunately, the players don’t like the way it feels.
“It is so weird,” offensive tackle Brandon Thomas said. “It feels weird having something heavy on your helmet. It feels like it has a lot of weight anyway. It is hot, too. It is so hot in those helmets, and now with those things on there, it’s even hotter.
“It makes us feel weird. So we looked weird, felt weird and all of that. But, they say it will help with the concussions and that’s what the coaches are looking for. They don’t want anybody to get hurt going into the season.”
Though the extra padding is keeping the players’ heads safe, it is hurting their necks. Watson, Thomas and safety Travis Blanks complained about their neck being sore because of the extra weight on top of the helmet.
Usually, when putting on the helmet for the first time in the summer, players are sore the next day.
“I’m already sore,” Thomas said. “I’m about to get in the training room right now and get some ice put on my neck.”
All Clemson players, except the quarterbacks, are wearing the guardian caps. Quarterbacks don’t wear them because they are not supposed to be hit in practice.
Sense of urgency. When asked was there more of a sense of urgency with No. 5 Georgia only 29 days away, Watson was not into giving any politically correct answers.
“I can give you the politically (correct) answer and say, ‘No! We should all shoot for the opener and everyone wants to win the opener and that’s our first goal,’” he said. “But, you can’t really ignore what is going on in the public. We see it. As much as the coaches want to shelter us from it, we see the blogs; we see the hype around the game.
“So yeah, it gives us a little sense of urgency, but we also know that if we win or lose that game, it is not the end of the season. We still have to go on to the next game. We still have eleven more games to play, win or lose.
“It’s going to be exciting to play in a game like this at home. This will be the biggest game in the country to open the season. Think of another game to open the season that will be this exciting?”
No more twitter. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said it was the players’ decision to ban themselves from twitter for the next five months, but the coaches may have encouraged it a little.
“I was kind of pushed a little bit,” Boyd smiled. “But, really, we all have one goal in mine so we can’t have any distractions. So for us it is by any means necessary and that just happens to be one of the things.”
This is the second straight year Clemson players have voted to stay off twitter during the football season. Boyd said it should not be a problem staying off twitter, though he has 4,235 tweets, most of which have come since last January when last year’s ban was lifted.
“I have needed a reason to get off of it anyway. I kind of looked at myself as somewhat of a more ingenious Socrates if you follow me on twitter,” he joked. “I’m telling you, I have given out some great quotes… People tell me all the time that I put out some great quotes and that they are going to miss it. I’m inspiring. That’s what I do.”
Boyd says they can use Facebook still, but he has outgrown it, somewhat.
“It has out-dated me,” he said. “It is not quite like MySpace. Is that still going, though? Justin Timberlake bought it? He is losing some money right there. I know he has some investors. But really, twitter is great and Instagram is fun.
“Someone tweeted at me and it kind of saddens me, but it said, ‘The next time Tajh tweets he will not be the Tigers’ quarterback anymore, but I will always be in their hearts.’ That’s what I want to do, though. I want to go out and leave the best impression possible.”
Off the field issues? There aren’t any. While some schools were having issues keeping players out of the news this summer for all the wrong reasons, Clemson only made the news for all the right reasons. Boyd mentioned how they did not really have to say anything to anyone about keeping their noses clean during the off-season.
“With the type of guys we recruit and the character they have, we don’t have to worry about all of that,” the Clemson quarterback said. “One of the things when you are younger, you might get curious about a few things, but the older guys do a great job of kind of helping the younger guys and letting them know what we can and can’t do.”