Brennan, hopeful to play Nevada, will be game-time decision
HONOLULU -- Colt Brennan was knocked out cold after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit Saturday night, but said he feels fine and will be ready to go when Hawaii (No. 16 BCS, No. 13 AP) plays Nevada on Friday.
"I'll be out there and ready to play," he said, after sitting out practice Monday.
Warriors coach June Jones, however, said his record-breaking quarterback will be a game-time decision.
"I've talked to a bunch of specialists," Jones said. "It's a little more complicated than it used to be, when they give some smelling salts and they send you back in. We'll do what's best for him."
Brennan suffered what school officials called "a mild concussion" in Hawaii's 37-30 victory over Fresno State that kept the Warriors undefeated at 9-0 and their BCS hopes alive.
He is also expected to be sidelined Tuesday as well. The team practices Wednesday before flying to Nevada in the afternoon for its game Friday.
The senior said he's had no symptoms from the concussion and feels "normal."
"I just got to hope that I continue to get better and feel good," he said. "Hopefully Friday, I can get cleared. That's all I'm waiting for."
Brennan had thrown for 396 yards and two touchdowns against the Bulldogs before leaving with about 11 minutes left in the game. He was flattened by linebacker Marcus Riley near the Bulldogs' sideline while scrambling on third-and-7.
"He hit me solid," Brennan said. "Unfortunately, he hit me right in the head and my head hit the ground and it knocked me out cold."
Brennan laid motionless, face down, as trainers from both teams came to his aid. The near-sellout crowd drew silent and teammates prayed on one knee as the game was halted for about five minutes. Brennan eventually stood up, wincing in pain and was helped off the field into the locker room.
"I didn't see him until the last second. He came in and I tried to get underneath him and we just went helmet-to-helmet," Brennan said. "That's the game. ... Do I think he did it on purpose? Absolutely not. Do I feel any negative feelings toward this guy? Absolutely not."
However, the injuries to Brennan and Washington's Jake Locker, who suffered a stinger and muscle strain in his neck in a helmet-to-helmet collision Saturday, raises the issue of whether college athletes are adequately protected.
Neither hit was flagged.
"The need to protect the quarterback is in need of thorough review and if that means changing the NCAA rules, we need to change rules," said Karl Benson, commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference.
Benson has contacted other conference commissioners about examining the issue.
The WAC on Sunday reviewed the hit on Brennan and determined that a proper no-call was made since the defender made shoulder pad contact before hitting Brennan's helmet.
"It was a legal hit, but it has brought attention to the rule," Benson said. "In my opinion, the NCAA needs to adopt a similar helmet-to-helmet rule as the NFL."
The hit would've drawn a penalty in the NFL, regardless of the previous contact.
In the NFL, contact with a quarterback's helmet -- even inadvertent -- draws a 15-yard penalty at a minimum, and ejections and possible fines if flagrant. In college football, ejections, are not as common and suspensions are almost unheard of.
Jones said the NFL has set the ground work for the NCAA, by cracking down on helmet-to-helmet contact and helmet-leading hits in recent years.
"We're still not there in college football and [it's] probably going to be somebody's decision to finally draw the line and suspend guys," said Jones, a former NFL quarterback and coach.
Despite not participating in drills Monday, Brennan still got a workout. He stayed a half hour after practice to autograph about a hundred jerseys, helmets, magazines and photos for fans.
The Warriors desperately need Brennan for their BCS run.
If Hawaii can escape Nevada with a victory, it will need to defeat No. 17 Boise State and Washington at home to finish 12-0. Hawaii is currently 16th in the BCS standings and needs to finish in the top 12 to secure an automatic berth.
An undefeated season would also go a long way for Brennan's Heisman Trophy chances. Brennan has thrown for 3,216 yards and 28 touchdowns, a year after passing for 5,549 yards and setting a Division I-A record with 58 touchdown passes.
Hawaii and Kansas (No. 3 BCS, No. 4 AP) are the only remaining unbeaten major college teams. The Warriors are off to their best start since 1925 and have won 10 straight, and 19 of their last 20 games.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press