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Another Year, More Rules Changes

Which rules changes do you agree with, which ones are “ruining” the sport?

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With Media Days comes the day two breakdown of the new rule changes for the season. And of course, this year was no different, so let’s just get into it.

Targeting Rule Changes

There are a few tweaks coming to the targeting rule. Of course, none of this means that it will be called any more consistently, but in general, all of these are good changes.

The first change is that if all elements of the targeting rule are not met, then the call will be overturned.

“In the past a call on the field would stand if there wasn’t anything to demonstrate that all elements were present. So in the replay booth this year, all elements of targeting must present themselves or the call will be overturned.”

– Coordinator of Officials Greg Burks

The next tweak, and this might be my favorite rule change, is that they have added an intent to the targeting rule. Meaning that without an “attacking” piece, the targeting rule will not apply.

“The biggest change in the rule book this year that demonstrates targeting is the word “attacking” and you will see in the fourth piece there we are looking for those plays when a player is attacking another player. We have had some targeting fouls in the past where a player really is not initiating the contact but there has been helmet-to-helmet. Without that attacking piece, targeting will not stand this year.”

– Greg Burks

The last change to the targeting rule is a new multiple offense rule. It’s now three strikes and you’re out…for an additional game.

“If a student-athlete receives a third targeting foul during the course of a season, they will be out for the remainder of that game and they will also receive an automatic one-game suspension. There are not very many players that this applies to, I don’t know nationally what that is, but it’s under five. The point here is that we want to make sure that players are being taught not to engage in targeting action and if we do have repeat offenders to that degree they will be penalize an additional game.”

– Greg Burks

Overtime Changes

Blame the seven-overtime game between LSU and turncoat Texas A&M for this one. Apparently, it’s not safe to play that long of a game, so the NCAA is stepping in.

Starting this year, if a game goes past four overtimes, the game will be decided by 2-point tries.

“The first four overtimes this year will be played exactly the same way. Beginning with the fifth extra period we will no longer have the traditional overtime, we will immediately go to a two-point try.

– Greg Burks

No, No To The 2-Man Wedge

The rule against using a 3-man wedge has been in place for some time now, but starting in 2019, they are getting rid of the wedge altogether on kick returns.

So just what is a wedge?

“A wedge is defined as two players aligned shoulder-to-shoulder within two yards of each other. Two yards is six feet.

“We’re trying to prevent players from coming together on kickoffs and aligning together shoulder-to-shoulder starting up the field and creating a block where that kickoff cover player has to try and blow that wedge up.”

– Greg Burks

But isn’t that just blocking? Two men aren’t allowed to block one player? No, the 2-man block is still legal. It’s when two player come together and move up field as one unit. It’s the moving up field as one that defines the wedge. If two guys comes together to block the same guy from different angles, that’s still legal.

Horns Down, Flag Down

You’ve probably seen that horns down is no longer a penalty. Well…that is not exactly what Burks said.

“Somehow I knew I was going to get that question today. The answer I will give you is “it depends”. It’s like any unsportsmanlike act. If somebody scores quickly, turns to their cheering section, and it’s quick and they move on, we’re not going to do anything with that. If it’s to a bench or to another player, and it’s prolonged, it would be an unsportsmanlike act.

“Like any play, there is a degree, who it’s directed at, if they do it in their bench area, we’re not going to look at it. It would be like any other celebration foul, so it has to be like any other foul we have. Does it rise to the level we need to deal with that?

“It’s a hot topic. I know people want us to be definitive on that, but it’s like any touchdown celebration. Is it directed at an opponent or just celebration with your teammates? I think he said what if they direct it at fans?”

– Greg Burks

The Blind-Side (The Block, Not The Movie)

The near elimination of the blind-side block has been a hot topic this off-season, so no surprise it came up at Media Days.

“There is an SEC play of a year ago where there is an interception and we looked at it as supervisors, the quarterback throws an interception and say coming back up the field and while he’s now a player by definition he’s still a defensive player because he’s not involved and it’s fascinating because at the last minute he turns his head and his eyes get big because he sees he’s going to get hit and our discussion was does he see this coming? Well, just for a fraction of a second and not enough time to defend himself so this would still be a foul.

“When it comes to matters of safety we’re always going to err on the side of safety. So we want the player to behave to where you can push them, shove them, not drop a shoulder or your torso and get the same affect to spring the ball carrier without delivering a blow that might hurt somebody. I hope that helps.”

– Greg Burks

Watching unsuspecting players get absolutely de-cleated on a change of possession was sure to make the highlight reel, but I think we can all agree it’s probably was not all that great for the victim.

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