When the NCAA Football Rules Committee announced its recommendations for the 2013 football season it was hard for most people to get beyond the “targeting fouls,” which actually take up two of the eight new rules for the upcoming campaign.
Obviously those regulations and how they’ll be enforced will be a source of controversy and debate throughout the year.
But in an era of hurry-up offenses that try to take advantage of every single second, another tweak that I found interesting involves the trusty ol’ spike.
There is now an official time frame for spiking the ball to stop the clock and it’s set at three seconds. If there’s one less tick than that you better fling the ball.
Otherwise it’s an opportunity lost or, in some cases, game over.
The rule reads like this:
Teams will need a minimum of three seconds from the referee’s signal to spike the ball to allow for another play at the end of a half, Teams must still execute the spike, but they will have a reasonable opportunity for another play. If the clock shows one or two seconds, they will only have enough time to run a play without first spiking the ball.
Georgia’s Mark Richt is one coach who likes the fact that the spike issue is now cut and dried.
“I do think that it’s a good rule in that at least we know if it’s three seconds, we know we can spike it,” Richt said. “If it’s less than three seconds, we know we can’t spike it. You have to decide whether you can get your field goal team in there fast enough.”
I don’t think the three-second rule was snatched out of thin air.
In the last Rose Bowl Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson tried to spike the ball with two seconds remaining. Instead the ball was driven into the turf, the clock ran out and Stanford won the game, 20-14.
And of course that’s just one of many examples of a coach or player trying to beat the clock and losing. And it seems like when it happens, it almost always happens with two seconds showing on the clock.
“Two minute” drills are a common element of practice, situations all teams spend some time on and some teams spend a lot of time on.
Richt said running drills to simulate the spike might not be a bad idea, either.
“Now the question is you get a long play, you’re working yourself inside field goal range where a field goal may win the game, now the clock is stopped because they are moving the chains and the clock is on two seconds,” Richt said.” Can you literally get the field goal team on the field and kick the ball fast enough? History shows probably not. That’s something that we have to get on the field and simulate and see if we can really do it. If you can’t, you have to run your offense down there and try to score a touchdown.”
Chances are good this rule won’t have the same game-after-game impact as the ones involving targeting — especially since ejections and judgment calls by officials come into play on those. But when things get down to cases and a game hangs in the balance, there will no longer be any gray areas.
“The rule states that if you try to spike the ball with two seconds or less, the game is over,” Richt said. “Even if you literally get the ball to hit the ground before the two seconds go, by rule the game is over if you spike the ball. If you have three seconds and you spike it, you should get a play after.”
Wonder if the situation will come up on Aug. 31 at Memorial Stadium?