Did You Know?: Football Rule Changes for 2013

Every year, the NCAA institutes several new football rule changes. Most of the rules pertain to either student-athlete safety or speeding up the game (personally, I think a four-hour game is way too long for most). With Georgia State beginning its season next Friday night against Samford, we felt this was the perfect time to make our fans aware of some of the rules changes that they might see over the course of the season.

The biggest rule change comes in the form of targeting with the crown of the helmet. Many of you have seen this discussed over the last month on ESPN, Fox Sports and other sports outlets. Related to that rule is targeting to an opponents’ head or the neck area of a defenseless player. The first part of the penalty will remain the same, 15 yards.

However, in all of those situations, it will now also result in disqualification of the player committing the foul. If the foul occurs in the first half, the player will sit out the remainder of the game. If the foul occurs in the second half, the player will sit out the remainder of the game and the first half of the next game. If the foul occurs in the second half of the last game of the season, players with remaining eligibility will serve the suspension during the first game of the following season. The disqualification is subject to review by instant replay, which is also new.

Another rule that will be emphasized this year is blocking below the waist. In adding to what the rule was, once a player leaves the zone within the tackle box, that player may not be blocked below the waist toward his own end line. Once again, this rule is in place to help with safety of the student-athlete in mind.

The rule relating to the 10-second runoff has also been modified this year. If the player injury is the only reason for stopping the clock with less than one minute in the half, the opponent has the option of a 10-second runoff. The play clock will be set to 25 seconds. If there is a 10-second runoff the game clock will start on the referee’s signal. If there is no 10-second runoff the game clock will start on the snap. The 10-second runoff may be avoided by a charged team timeout, if available. There is no option of a 10-second runoff if there are injuries to opposing players.

Another modification relates to the minimum time for a play after spiking the ball. If the game clock is stopped with three or more seconds remaining in the quarter and is set to start on the referee’s signal, the offense may reasonably expect to throw the ball directly to the ground and have enough time for another play. With two seconds or one second on the game clock, there is enough time for only one play.

In regards to a player’s helmet coming off, the rule has been modified to say that if a player’s helmet comes completely off through play, other than as the direct result of a foul by an opponent, the player must leave the game for the next down. The game clock will stop at the end of the down. The player may now remain in the game if his team is granted a charged timeout.

We hope that this helps you understand some of the rules changes for this year. It might not make for the most interesting conversation around the water cooler, but may give you one less reason to yell at a referee from the stands (unless the play goes against the Panthers, of course).

–Mike Holmes

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