McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

August 11, 2013

New college football rules makes things a little fuzzy

By NICK SNOW
CNHI

STILLWATER —

When it comes to the latest installment of new college football rules, namely the so-called targeting rule, which prohibits a defensive player from making head-to-head contact or risk ejection, things can get kind of fuzzy.
So fuzzy that just trying to implement the new rule might cause more headaches than the concussions the same rules are trying to prevent.
But if there’s one thing Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy knows, it’s that when a new rule is added you better expect it to be called.
“The thing that worries me is that when there’s a new rule in effect, they usually try to call it and set a standard,” Gundy said. “I’m hoping that it won’t be that way. Unless it’s a blantent target, then they’ll keep the game the same. I thought the game was fine.”
Gundy isn’t the only one who has a problem with the new rule. Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer has been very outspoken about the rule, making sure guys like Calvin Barnett don’t become the next poster child for the rule — a la South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, whose hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith helped inspire the new rule.
“There making so many rules these days it’s really hard to keep up with them,” Oklahoma State senior linebacker Caleb Lavey said. “The next thing you know we’re going to be wearing life jackets out there.”
Life jackets? Maybe not. But even though the new rule hasn’t gained much favor from defensive coordinators or players, Gundy did say that the new targeting rule is helping to make the game safer.
“I believe that they’re moving in the right direction,” Gundy said. “I just have some concerns of putting too much of the decision-making process in the officials’ hands, not that they would pick one team or the other. When I listen to Walt Anderson, the director of officiating in (the Big 12) and those officials, for the most part don’t want to be in that situation either. They want to be able to make a call and say it’s either this way or this way.
“There’s been a number of people that have said (Clowney’s hit) would be an ejection. That would concern me because I wouldn’t know what to tell him. He just went up the field, slanted inside and hit him.”
Even so, players like Oklahoma State senior defensive tackle Davidell Collins said he won’t be changing much when it comes to the way he approaches a ball carrier.
“It doesn’t change anything for us,” Collins said. “If you keep your head up you should be fine.”
For Lavey, who hadn’t even heard about the ejection part being added before Oklahoma State’s media day, the hardest part of the new rule will be trying to make that split-second decision, knowing that any hesitation could result in a big play.
“You just have to go out there and play the game,” Lavey said. “You can’t worry about any of that other stuff. We work on form tackling all the time, so I’m confident that when the time comes we’ll be able to make the play without getting a penalty.”
Penalties and ejections may come in a flurry the first few weeks of the season, but Oklahoma State sophomore cornerback Ashton Lampkin said it isn’t going to keep the Cowboys from being aggressive on defense.
“I love that (Spencer) makes us more aggressive,” Lampkin said. “He makes us get out there and get more competitive. We were kind of passive last year. Now we’re more competitive, so we should be better.
“Coach (Spencer) has gone over the rules with us. He knows and we know that early on everybody is going to be looking for those (targeting) calls, but we can’t let it get to us. If there’s a penalty or something like that, we just have to let it go and get ready for the next play.”
Nick Snow is a sports reporter for the Stillwater NewsPress.