On Thursday, we talked about the possibility defenders might fake injuries to slow down the wave of fast-paced, no-huddle offenses.
It only took one week for it become reality, or at least that’s what new Cal coach Sonny Dykes suggested after his team lost 44-30 to Northwestern on Saturday night. The Golden Bears ran 99 plays. That’s 20 more than North Carolina ran in its loss to South Carolina on Thursday night.
“It seemed like every time we got a first down, they would have an injury,” Dykes said after the game. “I hadn’t seen that. Didn’t expect to see that. I was disappointed we saw that, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
There’s also a video on that link to CoachingSearch.com suggesting a Georgia player might have tried the tactic in the Bulldogs’ loss to quick-moving Clemson. Bulldogs coach Mark Richt denied the player was faking, saying “he got hit in his privates real hard.”
Still, this issue is not going away. Kirk Herbstreit told AL.com’s Jon Solomon last week that defensive coordinators were practicing faking injuries for just such an occasion, and he mentioned it again while broadcasting the Georgia-Clemson game while a Bulldog player was on the turf with an apparent injury.
Several defensive coaches, and Arkansas and Alabama head coaches Bret Bielema and Nick Saban, are on record with their concerns about fast-paced offenses and have suggested rules changes might be in order. With no such changes on the horizon, some defensive coaches may think they’re simply “policing the game” like a baseball pitcher throwing at a batter after a violation of one of that sport’s laundry list of unwritten rules.
The problem with letting players police the game is there is always a response. In baseball, the response is pretty straight forward. You hit our guy, we hit your guy, nobody throws at the head, and we all move on. In football, who knows how an offensive player might decide he is going to start policing things on his end and trying to hurt an opponent if he thinks a team is faking an injury.
The NCAA needs to address the issue sooner rather than later and any rule change that artificially slows down offenses needs to be enacted alongside a rule that punishes defenders who fake an injury with a mandatory time they must remain on the sideline. If the adults in the room don’t figure things out, I fear it will be left to adrenaline-soaked teen-agers and the results will be bad.
South Carolina runs a more traditional offense so it’s doubtful the issue will come up from an opponent this year, but it’s worth following this topic because I fear it might get ugly.
Meanwhile, around the SEC:
As expected, Georgia will host South Carolina next week without junior wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who tore his ACL while celebrating Todd Gurley’s first quarter touchdown against Clemson. The Bulldogs have plenty of other guys who can catch passes, but Mitchell was expected to be their top target this season. My guess is Justin Scott-Wesley, a track guy who seems to be coming into his own in football, will take up most of the slack.
Kevin Sumlin says Johnny Manziel will have to deal with “chirping” all season and needs to respond better than he did Saturday when Sumlin benched him for what he perceived as trash talk during an easy win over Rice.
And, finally, how poorly did things go for Kentucky and first time head coach Mark Stoops? Not only did they lose to in-state rival Western Kentucky, which was also breaking in a new coach in Bobby Petrino, but then the Hilltoppers spent most of the postgame news conference talking about how poorly they played in the win. Could be another long football season in Lexington.