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Hurry Up Offenses Under Fire: NCAA Considering Rule Changes

Some coaches want teams penalized for snapping the ball too soon.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the NCAA announced that its rules committee has proposed a change to two rules - the targeting rule and regulations regarding defensive substitution. The former proposed change would overturn the 15-yard targeting penalty if the ejection is also overturned due to video evidence. This is hardly controversial change, and would surprise few of us if it were to be implemented.

The latter proposed rule change, however, would not be particularly well received, especially among Ole Miss Rebel fans. Per the SB Nation mothership:

The second, and more controversial rule, addresses defensive substitutions and hurry-up offenses. Under this proposal, offenses would not be able to snap the ball in the first 10 seconds of the playclock, to allow defenses to make the proper substitutions. If an offense attempts to snap the ball in this time, a five-yard delay-of-game penalty would be assessed.

So, yes, if you snap the ball too quickly, you'll be charged with a delay of game penalty under this proposed rule. That adds up.

This proposed rule change comes on the heel of coaches criticizing the hurry-up, no-huddle offenses run by coaches such as Hugh Freeze and Auburn's Gus Malzhan. Last offseason, Alabama's Nick Saban notoriously suggested that such offenses are not safe for players, and Arkansas' Bret Bielema famously remarked that his pro-style offense is both "normal" and "American" - suggesting that those which deviate from his (losing) formula are both abnormal and un-American.

Their greatest concern is that defenses need time to subsitute, spelling tired players and swapping players in who are more suited to match up against the offensive personnel on the field. The counter argument to this is, obviously, that the whole point of the hurry up offense is to create mismatches which result from the defense's inability to adequately anticipate the offense's next move.

A question I have is that, if this rule were to be implemented, would it not undermine of the very idea of the play clock? As it stands now, teams have 35 seconds from when the ball is set to snap the ball. Both teams have the time from when the play ends to when the play begins to substitute, if necessary. Being as how the offense does control fully when the play begins, this element of the game does tilt in favor of the offense, but is that the case to the extent that a leveling of the playing field for the defense is necessary? Even with hurry-up offenses, it's not exactly easy to move a football ten yards over four attempts consistently enough to score at will, something we've seen first hand.