Coaches rally against recent rule change regarding downfield linemen

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Paranoia. Paranoia. Everyone is out to get the spread teams.

Last year, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema were advocates of slowing down the game by changing the defensive substitution rules.

The NCAA Rules Committee shelved the discussion after numerous coaches came out publicly denouncing the potential rule change.

However, the NCAA did pass a rule last week that shortens the distance an offensive linemen is allowed to be downfield when a pass is in the air. The new rule states an offensive lineman cannot be more than a yard beyond the line of scrimmage during a passing play.

At least four prominent coaches that utilize spread offenses came out publicly and stated the change is merely an overreaction by the rules committee.

“I just want ’em to enforce the rule they have,” Arizona State head coach Todd Graham told USA TODAY‘s George Schroeder. “You’re not supposed to be more than 3 yards downfield. They need to enforce that.”

It’s not uncommon to see an offensive lineman five yards or more downfield due to the prevalence of packaged plays at the collegiate level. Quarterbacks are often given the option to hand the ball off, run or pass the football in a single play. Some signal-callers are adept at waiting until the last second before they uncork a pass. When that happens, there is usually an offensive lineman too far downfield, yet it’s rarely called.

Over the next two weeks, detractors of the rule change can provide comments to the rules committee. The NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel will then consider to move forward or not with the rule change on March 5.

“This is the second year in a row I’ll be involved in (pushing back against a proposal),” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze told Schroeder. “I’m certainly not looking for things. If my understanding is correct, the reason they are proposing the rule change is based on a small sample size of plays that the (rules) committee viewed. In those plays, flags should have been thrown. … I think it’s a bad precedent to start changing rules of our game because things that were fouls weren’t called. I want to be clear: I don’t think we should be allowed to have linemen running free downfield (on pass plays). But the rule is a good rule.”

Graham and Freeze are joined by Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Baylor’s Art Briles in asking the rule be withdrawn from consideration.

Illinois loses WR Trevon Sidney to season-ending injury

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After a series of high-profile renegings by transfer wide receivers this offseason, Illinois was able to hold on to a commitment from ex-USC Trojan Trevon Sidney.  Unfortunately for both the player and the program, that first season in Champaign has turned out to be a truncated one.

During the loss to Minnesota in Week 6, Trevon Sidney went down with an unspecified lower-leg injury.  Sidney missed the next two games, including the huge Week 8 upset of then-No. 6 Wisconsin.

Three days later, Lovie Smith confirmed that Sidney will miss the remainder of the 2019 season.  According to the head coach, Smith recently underwent surgery to repair what is still an unspecified injury.

Despite missing a pair of games, Sidney is still third on the Fighting Illini in receptions with 16.  His 123 yards are also fourth on the team.

The good news, such as it is, is that Sidney has another season of eligibility he can use in 2020.

Jerry Jones: Urban Meyer’s comment on Cowboys job a ‘compliment’

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How ’bout them Cowboys?  Urban Meyer‘s answer to a somewhat similar question has kicked up a bit of a kerfuffle.

Meyer, less than a year into his second retirement from coaching and in the midst of being lauded for his work as a college football analyst, appeared on Colin Cowherd‘s radio show late last week.  During the course of the interview, the ex-Ohio State and Florida head coach was asked about the not-vacant-yet job with the Dallas Cowboys and if he would want it.

Sure. Absolutely. Absolutely. That one? Yes.

Fast-forward a couple of days and the Cowboys’ owner has responded to what many are considering a not-so-thinly-veiled overture on Meyer’s part.

Jason Garrett, the current Cowboys head coach, is in the final year of his contract, which has led to the RPMs on that section of the coaching rumor mill ratcheting up significantly.

In addition to the Cowboys, Meyer was connected to the not-yet-vacant job at USC perhaps nanoseconds after his retirement was official.  Yesterday, our own Zach Barnett put Meyer as Florida State’s top target if the Seminoles move on from the Willie Taggart experiment, which thus far has been an abject failure by any measure.

Of course, if any of the upper-echelon Power Five schools end up searching for a new coach, Meyer will be at the top of their list as well.  Whether Meyer is attainable is another matter entirely.

Miami WR Brian Hightower tweets move to transfer portal

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All of a sudden, there’s a bit of upheaval in Miami’s receiving corps.

Earlier today, we noted the long-running, ongoing drama that is the Jeff Thomas Experience at The U. Monday evening, Brian Hightower added to the collective positional brouhaha by announcing on Twitter that, “[a]fter careful consideration and discussion with my family, and THE University of Miami coaching staff, I am entering my name into the transfer portal to openly explore the best opportunities to utilize my remaining eligibility and pursue my education.”

A four-star member of Miami’s 2018 recruiting class, Hightower was rated as the No. 27 receiver in the country.  Mark Pope was the only receiver in The U’s class that year rated higher than Hightower.

Hightower played in 17 games during his time with the Hurricanes — 10 as a true freshman, all seven this season.  He totaled 148 yards and one touchdown on 12 receptions, with eight of those catches and 88 of the yards coming in 2019.

Iowa could be without leading receiver, top tackler for Northwestern

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When Iowa kicks off its Week 9 matchup with Northwestern, the Hawkeyes could very well be at less than full strength on both sides of the football.

The Hawkeyes released its depth chart Monday for this Saturday’s game against the Wildcats, and neither wide receiver Brandon Smith nor middle linebacker Kristian Welch weren’t listed.  Smith suffered an injury to his lower right leg in the win over Purdue this past Saturday, while Welch suffered an undisclosed injury during the loss the week before to Penn State and didn’t see the field against Purdue.

Official word on the pair’s status for Week 9 probably won’t come until later on in the week.

Smith currently leads the Hawkeyes with 33 receptions and four receiving touchdowns.  His 407 yards receiving are good for second on the team.

Welch’s 47 tackles are nine more than the Hawkeyes’ second-leading tackler, Jack Koerner.  With three tackles for loss, he’s second only to Chauncey Golston‘s five.