Editor's Note: I'm moving this to the front page because it's a hot topic of discussion and I thought this was a very measured take. Thanks, RickySteals. Please leave your own thoughts in the comments.
I have to admit, I cringe a bit every time Owusu takes a hit after a catch - it sure seems like he has a knack for being involved in the kind of hit we say yesterday at OSU. That hit may well have ended his career (at the very least, he should talk to doctors and think long and hard about his future).
I think it is worth asking - why does this keep happening to Owusu? Is it bad luck, or something else?
It is far too simple to say it is any one factor - I think there are several at play here... however, there are some things we can identify as contributors.
- Bad luck - Some of it has to be bad luck.
- Owusu's style of play - Owusu is a fast player, especially over the first yard or so. It sure seems to me that he also has a tendency to catch the ball while turning up field to run (something that may also contribute to some of his drops over the years). When he makes a move like that and attempts to accelerate, he does lower his head a bit which puts it out in front of him, making it more likely that defenders playing for the big hit will end up getting his head. He is also so fast in making that move that defenders may not have a chance to react in time.
Owusu's reputation - If I'm a defensive coordinator and I'm looking for a weakness in his game, I think one that stands out is this: If you hit him hard, he seems more likely to drop a pass. I think that has to be part of the game plan against him.
These two factors are both a part of Owusu's game, but I think the following item is the one that explains a lot of what we've seen, especially in the last two weeks:
- The league's handling of helmet-to-helmet hits - In the last two weeks we have seen Owusu get hit in the head and both hits resulted in "controversial" penalties. I use the quotes because there should be no controversy. As the rules are written, both of the hits should've resulted in penalties. However, there have been three flagrant hits to the heads of Stanford players dating back to last season's Oregon game that didn't draw penalties and (in one case) possibly affected the outcome of a game.
What does all of this add up to? Well, we have a player with a playing style that puts his head out in front and a reputation for dropping the ball when hit hard. We also have a league that has created an environment where a hard hit that happens to drill the player in the head isn't going to draw a penalty. If you knock the guy out, he may cough up a ball that you can potentially use to change a game, with little odds of repercussions. Throw a little bad luck into this situation and I think it was only a matter of time before Owusu got hit again.
Now in the last couple of weeks we've seen a change. The helmet-to-helmet hits are finally drawing penalties (and suspensions). Hopefully coaching staffs take note and start coaching kids on how to hit hard without hitting heads. Unfortunately, I think this change is too late for Owusu. I sure hope in the end he is okay...
What do you guys think - is there anything going on here besides bad luck?