Is this new helmet the answer to the NFL’s concussion concerns?

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 11:06 AM

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 25:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on August 25, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 25: Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on August 25, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

A segment about Alex Smith’s helmet during NBC’s broadcast of the NFL’s season-opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots caught my eye last week, and The Washington Post had more on it this week

Turns out he wasn’t the only player wearing the new helmet from VICIS called the Zero1 that is designed to mitigate the impact of hits to the head. 

The Post reports Smith and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson were among about 70 players who donned the new lid, “the product of a Seattle start-up that might look like the traditional football helmet from afar but has a completely different design just beneath its exterior shell.” 

The helmet incorporates engineering principles more commonly seen in the automotive field. The outer shell is softer and more pliable, made from flexible thermoplastic. Beneath it is a layer of more than 500 small columns, each measuring an inch or so long, which absorb force and also twist and move laterally, lessening the impact of rotational acceleration, a major concussion culprit.

VICIS CEO Dave Marver compared the technology to modern bumpers on cars.

“Think of the current helmets like old cars, all made of steel,” said Dave Marver, the VICIS CEO. “They get in a collision, and they're rigid. The passenger continues to move forward. Today's cars, though, have bumpers that crumple, that slow acceleration before they reach the passenger compartment.” 

This is a very interesting concept, and I’m excited to see what kinds of results it produces.

Here’s a look at the inside of the helmet: 


What Steve Alford, Bruins players said after UCLA’s loss to Oregon State

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 9:06 PM


UCLA fell to Oregon State on Thursday night in a close contest, 69-63.

Aaron Holiday led the Bruins with 22 points, but it wasn’t enough to get past a Beavers team that saw all 5 starters score in double figures.

Here’s what UCLA coach Steve Alford (and center Thomas Welsh and guard Aaron Holiday) had to say after the loss, via the Los Angeles Times’ Ben Bolch:

The post What Steve Alford, Bruins players said after UCLA’s loss to Oregon State appeared first on Diehards.

Baker Mayfield thinks he should be placed higher in mock drafts

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 3:17 PM

Baker Mayfield-Thinks he should be placed higher-in NFL mock drafts

Baker Mayfield might need to dig out the “pretenders” sign once again when the NFL draft arrives in April.

According to the Tulsa World’s Eric Bailey, the former Oklahoma quarterback voiced frustration on Thursday over his placement among quarterbacks in several NFL mock drafts.

“I’m still not in the top 4 of anybody’s QB board,” Mayfield said. “It’s the same thing over again.”

Mayfield went on to say that the “winning speaks for itself” despite many experts acting skeptical over his future career in the NFL, according to Bailey.

The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner’s draft stock has varied widely among prognosticators.

ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. released his first mock draft Thursday and — the fourth quarterback taken. Others experts, such as ESPN’s Todd McShay, have predicted Mayfield to be a “career backup.”

Regardless, Mayfield’s final season in Norman was one to remember. The question now remains whether or not NFL front offices will think he can keep up that success in the pros when the draft rolls around.

The post Baker Mayfield thinks he should be placed higher in mock drafts appeared first on Diehards.

Bruins fall short of completing comeback: What we learned from UCLA’s loss to Oregon State

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 8:39 PM


At the under-12-minute timeout, UCLA (13-6, 4-3) faced its largest deficit of the night. It didn’t take long for the Bruins to erase it.

What followed was a back-and-forth, bucket-trading thrilling 11 minutes, but it ended in a 69-63 loss for UCLA.

The Bruins fell thanks to a final 3-minute stretch in which Oregon State (11-7, 3-3) had 3 different players make clutch baskets to turn a 1-point deficit into a 7-point advantage. Stevie Thompson Jr. (12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) canned a 3-pointer to extend Oregon State’s lead to 5 and put UCLA into a hole out of which it couldn’t climb.

Here’s what we learned from UCLA’s loss to Oregon State.

Take the lids off, please

This game started about as ugly as they get. Both Oregon State and UCLA struggled to get anything to fall — layups, putbacks, jumpers, you name it. Multiple close looks rolled off the rim, and at the 10-minute mark, the score was 11-10 with Oregon State in the lead. That stagnant start helped Oregon State both stick around and figure out how to get to UCLA’s offense, which has struggled so much lately, it even has troubles on the fastbreak.

Oregon State held UCLA to 37.9 percent from the floor, riding its defense and 8-rebound advantage along the way. A 4-of-13 night from senior center Thomas Welsh didn’t help things, either.

Resilient Bruins

UCLA’s slow start and 8-point deficit could have sank a mentally weaker team, but credit the Bruins for battling back to take a small lead in the latter portion of the second half. A pair of Chrises — Chris Smith and Kris Wilkes — led the comeback.

UCLA also finished 12 of 14 from the line, taking advantage of most opportunities it was afforded. For a moment late in the second, it looked as though the Bruins would escape Corvallis with a win. But then…

Team leaders, stand up

Oregon State’s late surge was as much the doing of the Beavers as it was poor defensive rotation. While Aaron Holiday (22 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds) did as much as he could to help the offense throughout the contest (including getting to the line 12 times, making 11 of those attempts), his defensive effort late allowed Thompson to get open for the corner 3 shown above. Tres Tinkle made a key 3-pointer during that stretch, and poor post defense allowed Drew Eubanks (12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) to get a great look, which he converted for 2 points that ended up being the clincher in Oregon State’s win.

The ugliest part of this sequence, though, came on the offensive end, where UCLA lacked a clear leader.

Kris Wilkes drilled a 3 to cut Oregon State’s lead back to 5 and slow the celebration, but most everyone watching was surprised to see Holiday not demand the ball late.

The result were a few disjointed possessions that downed any comeback hopes for UCLA.

The post Bruins fall short of completing comeback: What we learned from UCLA’s loss to Oregon State appeared first on Diehards.

Washington doesn’t go down easy: What we learned from the Huskies’ loss to Utah

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 7:38 PM

Washington entered Thursday night’s game against Utah with the better record, but didn’t look like it for much of the night.

The Huskies found a way to stay within striking range for the majority of their contest against the Utes, closing Utah’s lead to 4 in a late-game surge, but the earlier mistakes and deficit that followed ended up being too much to overcome in a 70-62 loss. For Utah, the win snapped a 4-game losing skid.

Utah guard Justin Bibbins led all scorers with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Washington guard Jaylen Nowell led the way with 17 points and 8 rebounds for the Huskies.

Here’s what we learned from Washington’s loss to Utah.

Huskies get sloppy

Washington’s 12 turnovers would sink the Huskies on a typical night, but on Thursday, they were bested by the Utes’ 14 miscues of their own. Forcing these turnovers was really the only way Washington remained in the game. All but one of Washington’s starters had at least 2 turnovers each. And yet, in the final minutes of the game, there they were, just a possession from tying the game and another from taking the lead. While Mike Hopkins’ crew needs to clean things up, they should find pride in their relentless push, even if it came up short. Washington was a cleaner game from pushing Utah’s losing streak to 5.

Empty opportunities

While Utah allowed its opponent to hang around, failing to fully put away the Huskies for the majority of the second half, Washington did nothing to help itself. The Huskies made just 10 of 18 free throw attempts and were out-rebounded 44-38. At one point in the final 5 minutes of play, the Pac-12 Network’s broadcasting crew marveled at the fact Washington was still in the game when considering these numbers (plus a 38.5 field goal percentage). Just a few more buckets scored off turnovers would have produced a much different result, but that’s often how these things go.

The bright side: Washington received a fairly efficient game off the bench from Michael Carter III, and saw Jaylen Nowell near a double-double despite shooting just 8 of 17 from the floor. The dark side: Washington allowed 5-foot-8 guard Justin Bibbins secure his own double-double with 20 points and a stunning 10 rebounds.

Deep drought

The Huskies’ run of opportunities left on the floor extended beyond the arc, where Washington made just 2 of 18 3-point attempts. All 5 of Washington’s starters combined to make 0 percent of 3-pointers. An incredibly poor night from the floor in all categories was capped by a nightmarish evening from deep, where the Huskies couldn’t capitalize on open looks. It eventually came back to bite them when they needed more than trading buckets to overcome a long withstanding deficit.