NCAA FB

Gundy says violent hits becoming the norm

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP)

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy says he's seeing a lot more big hits, the kind that could lead to injuries, tese days.

Texas Tech safety Jamar Wall delivered the latest wallop, laying out OSU quarterback Zac Robinson, and himself, late in the Cowboys' 24-17 win last week.

"I cringe at the hits that take place in these games now," Gundy said Monday on the Big 12 coaches' call. "There are three or four a game compared to years ago when there would only be three or four in a season."

Robinson and Wall were sprawled on the field for several minutes after their collision. They were woozy, but neither is expected to be held out of their games this week.

Coaches say defenders are tackling ball carriers higher now, rather than wrapping them up around the legs and rolling to get them down.

"These guys now are taking shots from the waist up," Gundy said. "It's happening all over the country. They put it on highlights, they see it on 'big hits of the week,' and I think it encourages more players to try to tackle high."

There is no shortage of online videos glorifying the game's violent crashes.

There's Florida safety Major Wright hammering Oklahoma's Manny Johnson along the sidelines in last season's national-championship game, Maryland's Kevin Barnes hitting California's Jahvid Best so hard that the running back was left crawling on the field on his hands and knees, or Boise State's Jeron Johnson laying out Idaho State quarterback Russell Hill.

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said a defender who tries for the up-high tackle sacrifices the advantages of the larger target area and better leverage he would get from aiming lower.

"I think the fundamentals of tackling have gone downhill," Leach said.

Defenders are getting more of a running start on ball carriers because spread offenses have created more open-field situations.

The evolution of the game and the increasing size and speed of players are producing predictable and bone-rattling results.

"It's the law of physics," Gundy said.

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PELINI VS. SNYDER: The Big 12 North title is on the line Saturday when Kansas State visits Nebraska.

Coaches Bo Pelini and Bill Snyder parted on rather unfriendly terms the last time they saw each other at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium. That was back in 2003, when Pelini was the Cornhuskers' defensive coordinator and Snyder was in his first run as Kansas State's head coach.

The Wildcats put a 38-9 beating on the Huskers, scoring a touchdown with under 2 minutes left on a 37-yard pass play.

Pelini went looking for Snyder after the game, giving him an obscenity-laced earful about how he didn't appreciate K-State's starters still being in the game against Nebraska's defensive reserves.

Six years later, Snyder said, "I don't think it's an issue, at least on my part it's not. I hope it's not with Bo. I think it was kind of a heat-of-the-moment thing. Competitive people respond competitively. I'd like to think it's beyond us."

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HAPPY HAWKINS: Colorado coach Dan Hawkins didn't sound like a coach on the hot seat when asked about his recent communications with athletic director Mike Bohn and chancellor Philip DiStefano.

In fact, judging from his upbeat tone Monday, one would never know the Buffaloes are 3-7 and Hawkins is 16-31 in four seasons, or that CU has lost 10 straight true road games after its 17-10 defeat at Iowa State.

"They've been great. They've been awesome," he said of his bosses. "They've both been very supportive about the whole deal. Very good."

Hawkins, who took over a program rocked by scandal in 2006, cut off a reporter who asked if he felt his job was in jeopardy.

"No, not at all," he said. "They (Bohn and DiStefano) understand the nature and scope of the position we have here and all the things that go on and have gone on. Everybody wants to win more games. In terms of helping get this place back on track after what it went through, I think we've had to take on a number of tasks and have done a great job with that."

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EXTRA POINTS: Jordan Shipley is replacing D.J. Monroe as Texas' top kick return man. Monroe was indefinitely suspended after being arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated early Sunday. Monroe was averaging 36 yards on 14 returns and has returned two for touchdowns. ... Missouri's Danario Alexander is offensive player of the week after catching 10 balls for 200 yards and a school-record three touchdowns against Kansas State. Oklahoma State's Perrish Cox won the defensive honor for intercepting two passes and breaking up three more against Texas Tech. The special teams award went to K-State's Josh Cherry, who kicked a career-high four field goals. ... Iowa State is 11th in the league in total defense, but there's a silver lining to coach Paul Rhoads. The Cyclones have held three Big 12 opponents to 10 points or less, marking the first time since 1965 that ISU has accomplished the feat in conference play.

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