Stanford WR Francis Owusu to miss next game with concussion

ByDavid Lombardi ESPN logo
Monday, September 26, 2016

STANFORD, Calif. --Stanford wide receiver Francis Owusu suffered a concussion on the helmet-to-helmet hit he took from UCLA's Tahaan Goodman this past Saturday, and he will miss the Cardinal's next game at No. 10Washingtonthis Friday.

"He's doing much better," Stanford head coach David Shaw said. "If it was up to him, he'd play next week, but that's not up to him."

Shaw said that he has been in contact with the Pac-12 about the play, after which officials -- including the replay booth -- decided not to charge the Bruins with a penalty despite clear helmet-to-helmet contact. Shaw declined to discuss the details of his conversation with the Pac-12, and the league office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on that play.

"I know that Francis Owusu was not technically a 'defenseless player,'" Shaw said. "But knowing the era we're in -- where we're in the mode of trying to make this game safer, trying to take helmet hits out of the game, and trying to protect the players who play this wonderful, physical sport -- in the spirit of where we are in the football world right now, you should throw a flag. It should be penalty. The initial contact was helmet-to-helmet."

Shaw hinted that the rulebook's language might currently give officials room to not call a penalty on hits like the one Goodman delivered on Owusu -- technically, the rule only currently states that leading with the crown of the helmet is illegal -- so he advocated for the league to adopt a blanket stance against helmet-to-helmet contact.

"To me, the letter of the law is immaterial," Shaw said. "If you have contact on one helmet to another helmet, that should be a penalty. We should go back and reword our rulings, go back and reteach our officials and our replay officials. We're trying to take care of these young men. Plays like this should be penalized so that they stop happening. If we don't penalize them, they will continue to happen ... There is language [in the rulebook] that obviously needs to be amended, preferably sooner than later. And I think you'll get relatively unanimous support for such language ... The defense for that not being a penalty -- I can't imagine what [else] it really could be, rationally."

The No. 7 Cardinal play Washington in a showdown of two unbeaten Pac-12 North teams Friday (6 p.m. PT, ESPN). While Owusu has been definitely ruled out, Shaw said that status updates on starting cornerbacks Alijah Holder and Quenton Meeks -- who were also hurt against UCLA -- should be expected in the "next day or two." Stanford fullback Daniel Marx's status is also still up in the air.