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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tuitama ‘questionable’ for Saturday after concussion

    Sophomore quarterback Willie Tuitama’s status for this weekend’s game against Stephen F. Austin remains in limbo after a concussion he suffered on the first drive against then-No. 8 Louisiana State Saturday night.

    Tuitama, who stayed in the game until the third quarter against LSU, was held out of practice last night, but UA head coach Mike Stoops said he expected the signal caller to return to practice either today or tomorrow.

    “”He’d be questionable (to play Saturday) at this point if I had to list him – probable to questionable,”” Stoops said yesterday morning during his weekly press conference. “”We’ll know something more definitive by the end of the week.””

    The hit on which Tuitama received the concussion was unclear, but Stoops said he thought it was a combination of two blows taken on the game’s first drive.

    The first came on the game’s first play from scrimmage, when Tuitama faked a pitch to running back Chris Henry, hit wideout Syndric Steptoe on a 12-yard out and was drilled by LSU’s Tyson Jackson.

    “”The first play, I’d seen the replay and then he came to the sidelines and he said some things to me,”” wideout Mike Thomas said, “”and after that I kind of knew he was a little distorted.””

    Jackson was flagged for roughing the passer for his helmet-to-helmet hit, but it didn’t stop the Tigers in the second quarter when safety LaRon Landry lowered his helmet into Tuitama’s chin. No flag was thrown on the play.

    Regardless of which hit it was, Stoops said his quarterback was just “”out of it”” after the first drive.

    “”He wasn’t doing things right,”” Stoops said. “”That is something that he’s practiced well and he’s prepared well. For him to go out and not see some things right tells you something was wrong.””

    Redshirt senior Adam Austin went 8-of-19 with 67 yards and a pick after replacing Tuitama in the third quarter. He figures to see action should Tuitama be unavailable. Tuitama was not available for comment yesterday.

    Injury updates: Thomas, Barnett

    In addition to Tuitama, defensive tackle Yaniv Barnett also missed the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game after hyper-extending his right shoulder.

    Stoops said Barnett, who had three tackles last weekend, is questionable for Saturday.

    Meanwhile, Thomas, who has five catches for 23 yards this season, is still nursing an ankle injury.

    “”Mike hasn’t been healthy,”” Stoops said. “”I think if anything, he’s getting closer. He’s played, but I don’t think he’s been 100 percent.””

    Said Thomas: “”It’s real frustrating to know in the back of your mind that you just can’t move like you want to move or do the things that you know you can do.””

    Another wideout, Bobby McCoy, is expected to be available this weekend. McCoy missed the first two games of the season because of an injury to his foot.

    Stoops frustrated with scheduling

    Stoops also expressed his concern yesterday for the Pacific 10 Conference scheduling, which forces teams to play nine games in conference as of this year, and which he feels puts teams at a disadvantage in terms of reaching the postseason.

    “”Playing nine conference games, I’m not in favor of scheduling games like this,”” he said. “”I think this is ridiculous to put our kids in that situation, playing nine conference games.””

    “”Why are we the only conference that plays nine?”” he added later. “”Why does the Big 10 (Conference) get to play four (nonconference) games? Why don’t they play nine conference games? Why doesn’t the Southeastern (Conference) play nine conference games? I mean, why is that? To me, I think that hurts our conference a little bit.

    “”True, we have a ‘true champion’ you can say, but nobody else does. That part starts to bother you when you’re trying to turn a program around.””

    The rest of the major BCS conferences play at least four nonconference games, meaning teams such as Texas A&M – which beat The Citadel and Louisiana-Lafayette by a combined 76 points to open the season and takes on Army and Louisiana Tech before starting conference play – have an advantage of playing “”four patsies,”” according to Stoops, in getting to the six-win plateau to qualify for a bowl game.

    “”There’s a total imbalance in college football,”” Stoops said. “”I don’t have time to research it, but I’m smart enough to look at what teams are doing, playing Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette – every directional school there is. That’s something that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.””

    “”At the end of the year, nobody cares who your eight wins are,”” he added later. “”Does anybody care? You guys (the media) don’t care – you know what I mean? So what’s it matter? All you care about is the record, and that to me is just such an imbalance.””

    At one point, the coach was asked what the strategy was behind scheduling nonconference games.

    “”You asking me? I certainly didn’t schedule these,”” he said of the games that were scheduled by the previous regime headed by John Mackovic. “”That wouldn’t have been my strategy.””

    It was a strategy that forced his team to play the likes of LSU, Purdue and Wisconsin over the course of the past few years, a strategy that has left its mark.

    “”We just weren’t equipped to handle (games like the LSU game) very well, I guess,”” he said. “”I guess that’s the moral of the story. Hopefully at some point, we will be. And that’s our goal, to get to where the LSUs and people like that are.

    “”We’ll never stop trying to get to that level.””

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