One of the biggest rule changes this year in college football involves targeting, where a player hits a defenseless player.
This could involve a defender hitting a receiver over the middle, a defender hitting a quarterback, and even a running back lowering his head to a defender down field.
Most Mountain West coaches like the merits of the rule, but are leery of how it will be called since most of those plays happen so fast. And, they are leery of the punishment.
Officials can eject players for targeting. If the penalty occurs in the first half, the player is done for the rest of the game. If it is in the second half, the player is done for the rest of that game and the first half of the next game.
If there is an ejection, the call will be reviewed by replay officials in the press box. However, the only thing that can be changed is the ejection aspect. Even if replay shows there was no targeting, a 15-yard penalty will stand no matter what.
Once the player is ejected, there is no appeal process later in the week by coaches.
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said his squad, and many in the MW, don’t have as much depth as most BCS schools, so if a lot of ejections are made, that could impact a lot of teams in a lot of ways.
And, just how many ejections will we see early on? Officials are being asked to rule aggressively on this, and if there is a shadow of a doubt on targeting, look for it to be called.
“I understand the need for it, but how we interpret it and find out the impact is what I will be interested in,” Colorado State coach Jim McElwain said.
Some other news, notes and thoughts from MW Football Media Day here in Las Vegas:
–UW redshirted 18 players in 2012, and Christensen said he would like to redshirt close to that many this season if possible. UW redshirted about 18 guys in Christensen’s first three seasons combined as guys were needed to play. Christensen said he still will play the best guys that help the team win. The Cowboys brought in seven junior-college transfers in 2013, and Christensen said he may redshirt a few of those players as well — although he did not mention any names of who. If I had to guess right now who that could be, I would go with defensive lineman Troy Boyland, linebacker Malkaam Muhammad and possibly safety Jesse Sampson. Muhammad and Sampson were hurt in spring ball and could be back this season, but likely wouldn’t be ready for the season-opener. Boyland is big at 6-2, 310 pounds, but needs to drop some weight and be in better condition to play right away. UW redshirted its two projected starting offensive tackles entering this season — both of whom came from junior college — Connor Rains and Walker Madden.
–The Cowboys will use the “buck” position more on defense this season. The hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker was implemented in the spring and appears to be staying this season. This is new for Christensen at UW as he enters his fifth season, but not for UW. The previous three coaches — Dana Dimel, Vic Koenning and Joe Glenn — all used the buck in one way, shape or form. Sophomore Siaosi Hala’api’api was moved from middle linebacker to buck in the spring, and junior defensive end Sonny Puletasi also could get looks there this season. Christensen’s main goal with the buck, and among the defense in general, is to get more pressure on the quarterback. UW had only 14 sacks in 12 games last season, and only four quarterback hurries.
–My column for Wednesday is on how the quarterback position is a strength for the MW this season, and that is a good thing for the league. Fresno State coach Tim
DeRuyter this season reminds him of when he was an assistant coach in the Mid-American Conference when quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington were in the league. UW senior defensive back Marqueston Huff was asked who he thought was the best he has played against. He said: “There are some amazing guys, but I will stick with my guy, Brett Smith.”
Added Nevada junior quarterback Cody Fajardo: “Knowing the quarterbacks in this league you know you have to get your offense going and score some points.”
Fajardo and Smith were both at the Manning Passing Academy earlier this month, and both have established a friendship over the last couple of years.
For more on that story, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to www.wyosports.net. Also check out the two papers and website for all of your Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo coverage.