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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The future of ‘Future’: A week on the bench

    Ryan Caseyassistant sports editor
    Ryan Casey
    assistant sports editor

    If you’re looking for a reason to hold sophomore quarterback Willie Tuitama out of Saturday’s contest with Stephen F. Austin, look no further than the young signal caller’s nickname.

    “”Future”” should not see the field against the Lumberjacks this weekend if the team is at all concerned about his – and its own, for that matter.

    After sustaining what appears, based on his symptoms, to be a grade-two concussion, Tuitama is now at more risk for a second concussion than the average person who has not experienced head trauma. (There are three grades of concussions, the third being the worst and involving loss of consciousness.)

    Tuitama’s appearance on the sidelines after absorbing two helmet-to-helmet hits against then-No. 8 Louisiana State has been described as “”groggy”” by several coaches, and the young quarterback also threw up at the Baton Rouge airport, according to tight end Brandyn McCall.

    Subsequent to suffering a grade-two concussion, most medical circles – including the American Journal of Clinical Medicine – recommend not returning to action for at least one week after symptoms reside. This means if he plays Saturday and takes another shot to the head, his chances for a second concussion would increase dramatically.

    A second concussion, if it were also a grade-two, could potentially keep Tuitama off the field for another month.

    So what’s worse? Missing a game against a Division I-AA opponent in Stephen F. Austin, or missing at least the first four games of conference play – games against USC, Washington, UCLA and Stanford?

    After a second concussion, they just begin to pile up, as an athlete’s potential for head trauma increases with each blow to the head.

    Brains are not bones. They can’t be wrapped in Ace bandage wraps, nor can they be set in casts. Only time can heal contusions to the brain.

    Besides, as LSU demonstrated, quarterbacks aren’t exactly in the most protected position on the field. The vulnerability of the position leaves Tuitama, well, vulnerable to types of hits other players in different positions on the field wouldn’t be.

    So not only should Tuitama not play Saturday, he shouldn’t even dress, making it impossible for the coaches to give even a second thought to inserting him in the lineup, even if he’s cleared to play.

    And you know Tuitama’s going to want to play. So don’t dress him. He’ll make a hell of an assistant coach for a game.

    Why not give the reins to Adam Austin, the redshirt senior who has nearly five years of experience in the system, for a game? He had a solid showing in relief of Tuitama against LSU, with receivers dropping at least two passes that should have gone for touchdowns.

    There’s nothing bad about having an experienced backup quarterback. And no matter how many touchdowns Austin throws against the Lumberjacks, it’s not like there will be a quarterback controversy when Tuitama’s ready to goagain.

    Austin will be the first to tell you, “”Willie’s the guy.””

    Sure, some will say Tuitama stayed in the game for three quarters “”like a warrior.”” But the reality is that staying in the game with a concussion is one of the stupidest things an athlete can do.

    I’d wager that Tuitama didn’t even realize he had a concussion. Sure, he probably felt woozy and “”out of it,”” but like a lot of other things in life, you don’t know you have a concussion until you’ve actually had one.

    Others will argue that Tuitama should be given a series or two and then Austin should take over, but remember that No. 7 got his concussion on the first series of the game in Baton Rouge.

    Sure, a game against a Division I-AA opponent is a perfect scenario to boost a struggling quarterback’s confidence, but is it really worth the risk?

    The bottom line is that no matter what benefits could potentially come out of his playing Stephen F. Austin, the health risks to his head far outweigh them.

    Tuitama’s time will come. And while waiting even two weeks – where a matchup with yet another powerhouse school in No. 4 USC is around the corner – isn’t ideal, either, the two weeks are unquestionably better than one.

    In order to assure that “”Savior”” is an integral part of this team’s “”Future”” either this season or the next, his next appearance at Arizona Stadium should come in street clothes.

    Ryan Casey is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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