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Berry Tramel  


College football: a better idea for slowing down offenses

by Berry Tramel Modified: February 18, 2014 at 8:15 pm •  Published: February 18, 2014

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun apparently is backtracking on the proposed rule change which would keep offenses from snapping the ball quicker than 10 seconds into the play clock. During a teleconference Tuesday, Calhoun, chairman of the NCAA Football Rules Committee, said that before supporting the rule change, he would have to be convinced it makes the game safer.

You can read about Calhoun’s comments here.

That was not Calhoun’s tune last week, when it appeared the rule would sail through channels and be instituted, even in a year when rule changes are not considered. College football makes rules adjustments every two seasons.

Perhaps a collection of influential coaches got to Calhoun, who knows?

Some theorized that the proposed rule change actually was intended to help slow high-powered, uptempo offenses. If that’s the motive, I have another idea. Instead of attacking offenses from the front end of the play clock, attack from the back end.

Shorten the play clock, from 40 seconds to 35 or so.

Here’s my theory. Offenses are going to go fast, in some form or another. But what about offenses that use time to dissect defenses? Did you see Peyton Manning in the AFC title game? All that “Omaha, Omaha” stuff. All that directing of his offensive teammates to find the holes in a defense. Manning routinely ran the clock down to just a few seconds.

The same thing happens, on an admittedly smaller intellectual scale, in the college game. So why not cut into a quarterback’s time to decipher a defense? When a defense shifts, give the offense less time to counter.

Alabama, for instance, is known for its shifting defenses. Continually making the offense switch plays and/or formations. Give the offense five less seconds to counter, and it empowers the defense.

Now, it also hurries up the game. That’s five less seconds for the defense to catch its breath. So there’s a tradeoff.

I ran my theory past Pat Jones, who was a defensive coach in college, head coach at OSU, then coached both sides of the ball in the NFL. Jones figured shortening the shot clock would help the offense moreso, but he wasn’t adamant about it.

I just think artificial means to slow down offenses are 1) not going to work; or 2) going to be met by extreme opposition. I think it’s better to try to counter offenses in other ways.



by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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