The biggest story from the mini-opening night in the SEC on Thursday will be Jadeveon Clowney’s conditioning. It should be Jordan Matthews’ head.
Matthews, the Vanderbilt wide receiver who turned down a chance at early entry into the NFL to return to the Commodores, had the kind of game that has made him such a pro commodity, catching 10 passes for 178 yards. He had more than 100 yards before the game was 20 minutes old, and he converted a fourth-and-18 with a 42-yard grab in the final minutes to set up what looked like it would be the Commodores’ decisive touchdown. (Instead, Ole Miss got a 75-yard touchdown run with 1:07 left to pull out a 39-35 win in a fantastic game.)
Here’s my problem: Earlier on Vanderbilt’s final offensive drive, Matthews was tackled and hit the back of his head, which caused him to vomit on the field. Vomiting, of course, can be a sign of a concussion. I have no idea if Matthews had a concussion, and I’m not a doctor, but the time that elapsed between Matthews hitting his head and vomiting and returning to the game to make his fourth-and-18 catch doesn’t seem like nearly enough time to determine that.
Matthews spoke to the media after the game and attributed the vomiting to having a lot of liquid in his stomach after trying to rehydrate from an earlier cramp. That could very well be the case, but after trumpeting its new Concussion Working Group this summer and watching the NFL this week agree to pay a settlement of more than $700 million for concussion-related injuries to its former players, the SEC better make sure all its protocols were followed before Matthews was allowed to return to the field.
Having said that, it was a fantastic game. Who wins a game on a last-minute, 75-yard touchdown RUN? Hugh Freeze does, that’s who.
Speaking of Clowney and his fatigue issues last night, here are what writers from USA Today, SI.com and CBSSports.com (all of whom were at the game) thought about the junior defensive end’s night.
If you want to know my thoughts on the subject, beyond what I’ve already written, come back at 1 p.m. for our live chat.