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New NCAA defensive substitution rules proposed; What have OU players and coaches said about fast-paced offenses?

by Jason Kersey Modified: February 12, 2014 at 5:55 pm •  Published: February 12, 2014
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Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is surrounded by players on the sideline during a timeout during first half action of the NCAA college football game between the University of Oklahoman (OU) Sooners and the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is surrounded by players on the sideline during a timeout during first half action of the NCAA college football game between the University of Oklahoman (OU) Sooners and the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

NORMAN — The NCAA Football Rules Committee has proposed a new rule allowing defenses 10 seconds to make substitutions.

Current rules allow defenses to only make substitutions if the offense substitutes first.

Under the new proposal, the offense won’t be allowed to snap the ball until the play clock reaches 29 seconds. If the offense snaps before then, it will be assessed a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty.

“This rules 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 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.”

The Big 12 has become one of the conferences most known for fast-paced offenses. Some coaches, like Alabama’s Nick Saban and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, have argued that such offenses could result in more injuries.

Because Oklahoma has been one of the schools that has picked up the pace offensively in recent years, it’s a subject that has come up in lots of media interviews. Here’s a quick look at some of the comments OU people have made regarding fast-paced offenses:

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, Aug. 3, 2013:
“I don’t spend that much time worrying about the pace of the game. It’s just the way football’s played anymore. I’m not one of these defensive guys who will get all bent out of shape.

“I really thought Nick Saban had a great quote in saying that football wasn’t meant to be played like basketball. But I mean really that’s what the game is. I would like to see the referees, you know what I mean, handle the pace of the game. When players aren’t set — and you’ve gotta be set a full second before you can move. That to me is the way it should be called. I think they’re moving half the time, they’re not even set for a second. Centers are going down field five yards on run-pass plays.

“The rules are so skewed toward the offense anymore, it’s very difficult. I don’t think they’re officiating the game the right way, just because of the pace of the game. I don’t think they can keep up with it. I think they need to slow it down so they can do their jobs better. That’s my estimation of what’s happening. There is so much happening so fast; I don’t think they see everything. They can’t. It’s hard for me to call a defense set, think about all the adjustments, where we’re supposed to be, that fast. It really is. I mean until you’re in the moment. It’s different.

“We can talk for a day on all that, those issues. I don’t worry about it. We see it, we practice it. Our kids understand it. It’s different.”

Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, Aug. 3, 2013:
“When we’ve had the ability, our personnel has allowed us to (go up tempo), when they’ve had some experience with what we’re doing. Last year we played with more of it. It’s been a weapon for us. Certainly it’s one that we want to use this year as well. It’s another way to attack defenses.

“You look in the past at teams that have shifted, traded, motioned, been multiple with their personnel, played multiple formations, tempo is another way to attack. So I hope nothing changes.”

Former OU center Gabe Ikard, July 23, 2013:
“The way we’ve utilized tempo has been successful for us. It’s not frantic, because we’re calculating in everything we do. As long as we keep using the tempo to our advantage and using the mobility we have now and all the players we have at skill positions, it will help us score more points on offense. We can catch defenses on their heels when they don’t have plays called and they’re looking at their sidelines. That’s when we utilize our tempo and it’s been effective for us.”

Former OU wide receiver Jalen Saunders, Aug. 5, 2013:
“I like the fast-paced. It puts pressure on the defense, doesn’t give guys time to set up and it dictates what we’re going to run on offense. Us, what we’re really about here at Oklahoma, is fast-paced, hurry up and set the ball up. Plays in, plays out.”

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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