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USF Football Practice Report: Explaining the ‘Concussion Protocol’

The Bulls held practice in full pads today as they prepare to welcome Northern Illinois on Saturday.

Towson v South Florida Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images

The Bulls practiced this morning in full pads under clear skies at the Frank Morsani Football Complex.

Running back Marlon Mack was in pads as well, indicating he might be able to complete the concussion protocol in an attempt to get ready to play against Northern Illinois.

What is ‘concussion protocol?’ Here is an excerpt from the NCAA Concussion Guidelines:

The initial management of sport-related concussion is relative physical and cognitive rest. Athletes diagnosed with sport-related concussion must be removed from play and must not return to sport-related activity for at least one calendar day and are to be evaluated by a health care provider with expertise in sport-related concussion. Once a concussed student-athlete has returned to baseline level of symptoms, cognitive function and balance, then the return-to-play progression can be initiated, as follows in this general outline:

Step one: Light aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming or riding a stationary bike. No resistance training. If asymptomatic with light aerobic exercise, then;

Step two: Mode, duration and intensity-dependent exercise based upon sport. If asymptomatic with such exertion, then;

Step three: Sport-specific activity with no head impact. If asymptomatic with sport-specific activity, then;

Step four: Non-contact sport drills and resumption of progressive resistance training. If asymptomatic with non-contact drills and resistance training, then;

Step five: Full-contact practice. If asymptomatic with full-contact practice, then;

Step six: Return-to-play. Medical clearance will be determined by the team physician/physician designee, or athletic trainer in consultation with a team physician.

USF would not confirm what step of the protocol Mack was in, but being in full pads at practice may be a good sign. He is still officially listed as questionable.

Backups D’Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice will have a bigger offensive burden to carry if Mack is sidelined this week.

“If he doesn’t play we’re gonna carry the load [for him] but it’s still a three-headed monster,” Johnson said.

“It’s a great opportunity, but Marlon has been practicing so he should be able to go,” Tice said. “But if we have to carry [it] alone, that’s OK, because we’re the three-headed monster. If one can’t finish, that’s what we’re here for.”

Tice added they’ve done that when Mack missed the SMU game last year and they were fine.


  • LT Kofi Amichia graded out as the best offensive lineman on Saturday against Towson, according to offensive line coach Darren Hiller. RG Dominique Threatt was second.
  • Right tackle will continue to be an open competition between Marcus Norman and Billy Atterbury. They graded out about the same for Hiller. Center will also be a competition between Cameron Ruff and Michael Galati.
  • Defensive coordinator Raymond Woodie called the plays from the press box Saturday. He said he just likes being able to see the entire field, which makes it easier for him to make notes and adjustments.
  • Tice is friends with and grew up with NIU linebacker Bobby Jones IV. He also said he wasn’t thinking what his long touchdown catch would be classified as, but said he would’ve loved the rushing yards. “I really need those.”
  • Johnson said he punted in high school. He added he was pretty good at it and even had a long of “about 60 yards” in case Taggart needs him to take over the punting duties.