February 24, 2013
Matt Bailey trying to rebound from disappointing sophomore year
Matt Bailey openly admits he had a poor sophomore season, and Tulane linebackers coach Barry Lamb cites a hidden factor as the explanation.
He believes the horrific, life-altering neck injury teammate Devon Walker suffered against Tulsa early last year made Bailey shy about tackling. Walker fractured his cervical spine in a collision with teammate Julius Warmsley at the end of the first half, was transported to a Tulsa hospital by ambulance, underwent three-hour surgery a few days later and remains in a rehab facility.
"He (Bailey) has a tendency to get to the right spot most of the time, but then nothing really good happens," Lamb said. "He's not as physical as I think he wants to be. I don't know whether I should say the truth or not, but I'm going to. What happened to Devon affected us in so many different ways, and we as coaches don't talk about those things because we want to get over them, but that was a devastating event to that team. I don't want to make any excuses, but we had a couple of players that just struggled after that event, and Matthew was one of the ones that really struggled with it."
Bailey, who started nine games at weak side linebacker, was benched for two weeks after Tulane's loss to Rice in November for lack of effort to bring down ball-carriers.
"Every player struggles with the fine line between really being a physical son of a gun or pulling out a little bit because of the things that happened," Lamb said. "We were all within 20 feet of that (Walker's injury) happening. Not only did we see it, we heard it, and that can have a devastating effect on some kids, and they come back slower. Some are able to just move on and mentally adjust. I might be out of line talking about this, and I don't want to make an excuse for him (Bailey), but I think that affected him more than I hoped and the team hoped.
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