MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Head injuries, specifically concussions, has been one of the most talked about topics in football over the last several weeks.
In the NFL, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s serious head injury, which has sidelined him for nearly two weeks, took place roughly 48 hours before West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson Jr. was carted off the field with a head injury in West Virginia’s loss to Texas on Oct. 1.
Donaldson remains in West Virginia’s concussion management program, and will not suit up against Baylor Thursday night in the team’s first contest since Donaldson’s injury. His status beyond that is unknown.
According to Brown, Donaldson was not the only Mountaineer player who sustained a head injury against the Longhorns.
“We got beat up pretty good in that game,” Brown said last week. “I think we had four concussions in the game.”
According to West Virginia’s fourth-year head coach, the coaching staff noticed signs of two potential head injuries on the sidelines, and alerted the team’s medical staff, which checked on those players.
Brown added that the four concussions sustained against the Longhorns were abnormally high for a WVU team since he took over the program in 2019.
“It’s a worry because we had a high number within that game,” Brown said on Monday, four days ahead of his team’s clash with Baylor. “There’s national averages and league averages that go out, and we’ve been well below [the average number of concussions].”
The head coach credits the off-the-field work his program does for the low number of total concussions WVU has sustained since he assumed the role of WVU head coach.
“I really think a big piece of that is a lot of the neck work that we do in the weight room,” Brown said. “Mike [Joseph] and his guys are really diligent about making sure in-season and out-of-season that these guys are doing a lot of neck exercises.”
Whiplash and hits that go initially unnoticed are two of the biggest contributors to concussions, according to Brown. The head coach also said Monday that two of the concussions sustained against Texas were a result of a knee to the head, and not head-to-head contact.
On top of the off-the-field work and exercises West Virginia players do, proper tackling and running technique are two key points in preventing and avoiding head injuries.
“Am I concerned? Yeah, anytime you have a head injury you’re concerned,” Brown said. “Were those preventable? They weren’t injuries caused by leading with the head, or having your head down.”
Donaldson appears to be the only player who sustained a concussion against Texas that will not play versus the Bears. In fact, Brown stated he expects all players to be available when he updated the team’s injury status on Monday, excluding Donaldson and corner Charles Woods.
Tight end Mike O’Laughlin’s status for Thursday is questionable after he suffered a knee injury against the Longhorns. Brown said he will have an update on O’Laughlin later this week.