They're Back. . . .

Freakishly, three Rebel secondary players went down in the Kentucky game with concussions. They returned to practice Sunday. Read about it inside.

CB Charles Sawyer, CB Marcus Temple and Safety Brishen Mathews were all sidelined with concussions during the Ole Miss win over Kentucky.

That trifecta of dingers followed CB Jeremy McGee sustaining one in the Fresno State game.

Football-related concussions have been a hot topic of discussion for a couple of years and are obviously a little more common, or maybe just more commonly detected and recognized, than in previous years.

But three in one game? That's got to be very rare.

"It was strange, and scary," reflected Reb Coach Houston Nutt. "There have been a lot more studies and precautions taken in recent years, but they still happen.

"I just don't ever remember having three in one game."

Nutt said it was not equipment-related or a neglect in teaching proper tackling technique.

Houston Nutt

"We have the best equipment made and we teach them to keep their heads and eyes up, to never lead with the head," he continued, "but sometimes players lead with their heads anyway.

"We have to continue to emphasize the importance of proper tackling."

A coach can talk about safety measures until they are blue in the face, but ultimately it's up to the players to take the instructions and use proper technique.

Sawyer said he thought he did.

"I don't remember putting my head down. We are drilled to keep our heads up, keep our heads up, keep our heads up, all the time. We know to do that, but sometimes you get in situations where it doesn't work out that way," Charles noted. "They were kind of freaky because on film it looked like Marcus and Brishen had their heads up and still got concussions. It was weird."

Charles had two concussions in high school. The one in the Kentucky game was his third.

"Mine was kind of minor. I was never out. Brishen was out cold. I was dizzy and had a bad headache for a couple of days, but I was never knocked out," he continued.

Studies show that once you get one concussion, it's easier to get the next one, but Sawyer said he cannot dwell on that.

"I'm concerned, but not worried. I will be cautious, but I will not let that affect my aggressiveness," Sawyer declared. "You have to play the game. If it happens again, it just happens.

Charles Sawyer

"Of course I am going to be more aware of using good technique, but I won't back away from contact. I had a lot of contact last year as a redshirt and this year up until the fifth game and didn't get a concussion, so I can't sit around worrying about it."

Sawyer's concerns, now that he is cleared to play against Alabama, will be in doing his part to stop the Tide offense, including big, fast receivers he will be matched with.

"You don't change much in the way you approach a big receiver like Julio Jones or a fast one like Mays. It's all about using your technique," Sawyer stated. "To me, it's all the same. Just keep your weight down, stay grounded with a good base, and play aggressively.

"We go against Melvin Harris every day, so we are used to taller receivers. You just have to battle them and not give in. Julio will be a great challenge, but so will their other receivers."

Sawyer respects the Tide, despite their loss to South Carolina last Saturday.

"I was pulling for them to beat South Carolina because we wanted to play the number one team in the country - all competitive athletes do," he said, "but we still know how good they are and that it will take our very best to win the game.

"We have to be smart and physical. We have to stay in the game for 60 minutes and you know one thing with them - you have to hold your ground. If you back down, they will try to bury you. They come right at you and wait on you to make a mistake. When you make one, they capitalize."

No longer fuzzy, and ready to go, Sawyer is excited about matching up with Alabama.

"I can't wait to tee it up. This is a big stage on national television. It's where we want to be," he closed.


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