If it was up to quarterback Baker Mayfield, there’s no doubt he would be suited up for Oklahoma on Saturday night for Bedlam at Oklahoma State.
But it’s not up to Mayfield. It’s not even up to OU head coach Bob Stoops. If Mayfield gets clearance from OU’s medical team, he’ll try to lead the Sooners to a Big 12 championship and 11-1 regular season record.
If not, he’ll have no other choice but to be on the sideline and play cheerleader. Mayfield, OU’s Heisman Trophy candidate, left Saturday’s game against TCU after suffering a concussion on a hit that was called for targeting in the second quarter.
Mayfield actually played the rest of the first half against the Horned Frogs before being relieved after complaining of a headache – a significant symptom of a concussion.
This isn’t his first concussion, but it’s the first one he’s had in five years, and he said it definitely felt different than that one.
“The one I had in high school felt a little more – I felt a little dizzy, sensitive to light, where as this one, I didn’t have the same symptoms.”
Mayfield said he doesn’t regret telling the OU trainers he had the headache because he knows they’re just looking out for his safety. But it also doesn’t mean he’s going to change who he is, and it doesn’t mean he has any less competitive fire heading into this week.
“I’m not afraid of concussions,” Mayfield said. “I signed up for football. I wear a helmet for a reason so I know what I’m getting myself into when I play football. I’d run through a brick wall for my team. It killed me to sit there in the second half and watch from the sideline.”
Stoops confirmed Mayfield passed the concussion protocol tests Saturday and Sunday, but athletic trainer Scott Anderson did indeed confirm Mayfield suffered the concussion.
Mayfield was cleared for non-contact drills Monday, which is something not out of the ordinary even if Mayfield didn’t have a concussion as there’s no contact for him on Mondays.
Now it’s a waiting game. If he continues to progress, as Mayfield said he hasn’t had a headache since Saturday night, then he should be ready to roll for Bedlam.
There won’t be any special exemptions, though, if any lingering effects are still there although concussions are incredibly tough for the medical staff to evaluate.
“Concussion, as it occurs, is without a doubt probably the most challenging thing we face because, again, largely you’re left to self-reporting unless you see those cognitive or postural issues,” Anderson said. “You’re just left to what the athlete is going to tell you. There are no other clinical signs and symptoms you can see that you can go to so that necessitates you have that serial evaluation, which we did.”
The other tricky part is there is no set protocol when dealing with concussions because of the fact it varies from person-to-person. The length of recovery for one person might be more/less than another. The time it takes to pass the tests is going to vary.
A person who has suffered a second concussion might not even have the same effects as they did on the first, which is exactly what Mayfield described.
One thing Mayfield was adamant about is he’s not going to change his style of play. He’s going to be who he is, won’t play scared.
Mayfield said he remembers everything about Saturday, which is one reason why Anderson is confident the staff did its job this weekend and will continue to do so this week.
“We’ve gone back and looked at that and dissected it,” Anderson said. “Is there anything else we could’ve done differently, or taken action earlier and it just affirmed the fact that we certainly have to do the due diligence and have the serial evaluation. We’ve got great confidence with our management.”
The offense struggled immensely with Mayfield out as a 23-7 halftime lead turned into a nail-biting 30-29 victory. Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley placed the blame on himself for the spotty play. Knowing Mayfield’s situation this early in the week will allow for Cody Thomas and Trevor Knight to get more reps at quarterback this week.
Mayfield, though, is certainly hoping it won’t come down to that.