New NCAA Rules Will Not Slow Clemson Offense

by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON, SC -- The NCAA giveth and the NCAA taketh away when it comes to making NCAA
football rules simpler to officiate.

At a meeting on Feb. 14 and 15 of the NCAA rules committee, chaired by
Nevada athletics director Chris Ault, four rules changes were approved. The
rules committee eliminated most instances of intentional grounding, but also
placed a rule regarding flinching motions by the defensive linemen that
could be more subjective than intentional grounding.

The one rule change that caught the attention of coaches a substitution
rule that prohibits teams from rushing players onto the field with the
intent of catching the defense off guard and unable to substitute

"We don't have that problem in our conference," said Tommy Hunt, the
Atlantic Coast Conference director of football officials. Hunt also said
that the rule does not apply to situations where a team runs a punt team
onto the field at the last second.

"This is applied to situations where you had two wide receivers on the
field and they come off and you run two more on and they snap the ball
immediately," he said. "If the come onto the field and put their had down
and snap the ball immediately, and they (the NCAA) wouldn't give us a count
number whether it's one second or two seconds or three seconds, it's a

The foul carries a five-yard penalty for the first infraction and it's
considered a 15-yard dead-ball foul on each successive occurrence.

"The purpose of it is to keep from deceiving the defense," said Hunt.
"That's what they're trying to do. Clemson runs plays like this, but they're
not trying to deceive anybody. They don't play that way."

In another rule change, defensive players within one yard of the line of
scrimmage are prohibited from making quick and abrupt actions "that are not
part of normal player movement in an obvious attempt to cause an offensive
player to foul," according to a release by the NCAA.

"It's not a foul if the linebacker runs up toward the line and stops,"
said Hunt. "The foul we're concerned about is the defensive lineman making
quick flinching motions at the line of scrimmage. Or if he's in a two-point
stance, that is his hands aren't on the ground, and he fakes like he's
moving by putting one foot in front of the other - jerky moves that are not
football related moves."

Hunt said that rule caused a good bit of discussion at a recent meeting
of the conference directors of officials. The penalty is the same as the
substitution rule - five yards on the first offense and 15 yards for each
one after that.

The NCAA has apparently made the officials' job easier by allowing a
passer who is five or more yards toward the sideline from where the ball was
snapped to avoid a sack by getting rid of the ball - as long as the ball
lands beyond the original line of scrimmage.

"Intentional grounding is such a subjective rule," said Hunt. "Some
people call it and some people don't. This is very similar to the NFL rule.
As long as he's outside the pocket, he can dump it."

One other rule change involved allowing two defensive players to wear a
4-inch by 12-inch white towel without markings attached to the front belt.
Previously, only one defensive player was allowed to wear a towel.

Hunt said he had already discussed some of the rules with Clemson's
coaches and that he expected further interpretations on the rules from the
NCAA by May.

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