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Proposed college football rule change for 2014 worth keeping an eye on

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An interesting rule proposal for the 2014 college football season could impact the way Kansas University and others defend the fast-paced offenses that have created havoc during recent seasons.

According to a report on the NCAA's official website, the proposed rule suggests that a five-yard delay-of-game penalty would be enforced any time an offense snaps the ball with 29 seconds or more showing on the play clock, with the exception of the final two minutes of each half. The idea is to allow defenses to substitute during the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock without offenses being able to hold them hostage with fast tempo and quick snaps.

Under the current rules, defensive players are not guaranteed an opportunity to substitute unless the offense substitutes first.

“This change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute,” said Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, who chairs the NCAA Football Rules Committee. “As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years and we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes.”

Although several offensive coaches around the country probably dislike the proposed change, defensive coaches are probably crossing their fingers in hopes that the new rule is adopted.

That's particularly true of defensive coordinators in the Big 12 who, almost weekly, are tasked with trying to find a way to slow down lightning-fast offenses that make their living spreading the field and snapping the ball as quickly as possible.

According to the report, “the committee believes that 10 seconds provides sufficient time for defensive player substitutions without inhibiting the ability of an offense to play at a fast pace. Research indicated that teams with fast-paced, no-huddle offenses rarely snap the ball with 30 seconds or more on the play clock. This rules proposal also aligns with a request from the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports that sport rules committees review substitution rules in regards to player safety.”

In other rules news, the NCAA proposed an alteration to the instant-replay review on targeting rules first implemented last season.

According to the report, “the committee recommended that if the instant replay official rules that a disqualification should not have occurred, and if the targeting foul is not accompanied by another personal foul, the 15-yard penalty for targeting should not be enforced.”

KU had its share of run-ins with the targeting rule, as well, but the substitution tweak, should it be adopted, would have a much bigger impact on the Jayhawks.

All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will discuss the football rules changes March 6.

Comments

Ron Prichard 8 years, 3 months ago

Matt, will this rule still be enforced in the last two minutes of a game? What if there are nine seconds on the clock and the offense needs to snap the ball to stop the clock? It just seems there are going to be some problems with this rule.

Matt Tait 8 years, 3 months ago

You're absolutely right. I forgot to include that the rule does not apply within the final two minutes of each half. It's in there now (2nd paragraph). Sorry for the confusion.

Sam Brockert 8 years, 3 months ago

Matt, though I know that it wont apply in the last two minutes, but often there is MORE than two minutes left when teams need to hurry. What if they are down by two scores with 4 minutes left? They need to hurry, but with this rule, they will not be able to do so.

Matt Tait 8 years, 3 months ago

Remember, this is just the play clock we're talking about... I know the play clock and the game clock CAN be running at the same time, but they aren't always. You bring up an interesting point, though.

It'll be interesting to see if it gets approved.

Ethan Berger 8 years, 3 months ago

Don't like. Just don't let the ball be hiked for 10 seconds. Don't punish a team for playing fast. Condition your players better if its that bad.

John Myers 8 years, 3 months ago

Seems like just about everyone is against this change, but I'm 100% for it. I absolutely HATE the hurry-up crap offenses. Offenses predicated on getting the play off before your opponent is ready for it are bush-league, IMO. Man up, and let your opponent be ready for the play.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 3 months ago

I'm against it. Offenses want to move the ball. Get your defense in better condition. I'd make the rule that if the offense makes a substitution then the defense is allowed to. Otherwise, play.

Jim Stauffer 8 years, 3 months ago

Teams that try to snap the ball consistently before 10 seconds are prone to more errors than success. Snapping the ball at the 10 second mark is playing fast, probably as fast as a team can successfully run its plays.

Matt Tait 8 years, 3 months ago

You got it. Even the fastest teams KU played last season — Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, etc. — were snapping the ball about 12-14 seconds into the play clock on average... and that was blazing fast.

So, really, this probably won't have a great impact even if it is passed. Instead, it'll just keep offenses from inventing new ways to go even faster.

David A. Smith 8 years, 3 months ago

I've been excited about this proposal since it first broke. I'm sorry, but the fast break offense just isn't football. Football is a smash-mouth, head-to-head game of strength, submission and leverage. The "trickery and finesse" that can be used to level the playing field is an exciting part of the game, but the current system that some teams use to constantly keep defenses from setting up is a misuse of "trickery and finesse". I hope it passes.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 3 months ago

It's still all those things! You can still run the ball 10 times straight if you want. You're still using strength of will and desire to win. You still use leverage to block and push and pull to get yardage. This isn't trickery, just faster.

Dale Stringer 8 years, 3 months ago

It is a stupid rule that I hope doesn't get approved. If you could get the ball snapped within 10 seconds, that would take some really great practicing. Don't forget, you have to have the ref set to ball down in time since the play clock starts as soon as the last play is over.

One thing I don't see is what happens when there is a clock stoppage such as a penalty or end of a quarter? You get a 25 second clock then. Do you still have to wait 10 more seconds to snap the ball if you've been in position for the last 30 seconds waiting for the commercial to end?

The only reason for it is to give the defense time to substitute. I can see what defensive coordinators whine when a new receiver subs in an goes straight to his position. You may not notice the fresh player in. So, IMHO, a better way to go about it is the make the offense huddle up when they substitute players. They don't have to send a lot of time in the huddle, but it give the DCs a chance to see a new player come in as they run to the huddle to back out to position. If the offense can still snap the ball within 10 seconds, good on them.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 3 months ago

Allowing the defense to sub when the offense does makes sense. Otherwise, the offensive package can't alter drastically because of the same personnel.

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