Should CFB change the rules to favor more defense?

Submitted by ChicagoB1GRed on October 19th, 2013 at 11:32 PM

Spread offenses, targeting rules, hamstrung DB's, no-huddle....Baylor scores 71 points, Michigan and indiana combine for 110 points....

Do you really like what you're seeing these days? Pointfests? Was today's game against IU your idea of a good CFB game? Do you find yourself just casually watching games until the second half of the 4th quarter like you do for pro basketball?

Wouldn't a more balanced game be more exciting and interesting?

I'm sick of pinball, video game football, the pendulum has swung too far. Remember 17-10 games being fairly common? When 400 yards of total offense was a lot? Epic battles between Irresistable Forces and Immovable Objects?

Football is a gritty, hardhitting game, not a finesse game.

Time to change the rules and give defense a chance. Give me games with some big hits, slobbernocking, trench warfare, defensive struggles, praying the field goal will be missed......

DB's get thrown out of the game when the other player dips his head at the last minute. Limited how they can engage the receiver.  Quarterbacks are overprotected. Meanwhile, the OL can hold, and hold, and......hold.

I'm looking for a happy medium, balanced game, not puntfests.





Zone Left

October 20th, 2013 at 12:37 AM ^

Offenses are way ahead right now, but not because of the safety rules. Smart coaches at programs with less talent have stopped emulating traditional schemes and hoping to win man-to-man against better teams. It's lead to the spread, zone read, option, wishbone, wing-t, and the combination of 4 verts with running the ball.

Defenses, notably Michigan, jumped ahead in the late 90s with the zone blitz. Defensive coaches need to find a better mousetrap again.

I've grow to dislike the chess analogy. It assumes everyone starts out level, when each side has advantages. The defense has one player you can't block and the offense knows where the ball is going and picks when the play starts. Offenses have realized they can press those two advantages very successfully. There's no reason they should give up those advantages.


October 20th, 2013 at 12:37 AM ^

...but if you really want to tilt things back toward the defense, go back to the old rule that made any grasping by a blocker illegal, even if it was inside the frame of the body.

That was the biggest rules change of my lifetime.


October 20th, 2013 at 12:39 AM ^

should just stop complaining about it. It's a great strategy on keeping the defense on the field with the same personnel. They get to run the play before the defense is set and tire the defense out. That's the purpose of the uptempo offense. Indiana ran it beautifully all game long.  If Michigan is doing the same thing, you would not be complaining about it at all.

It's not necessarily the tempo that is causing the rising of the scoring in the game. It's the proliferation of spread offense with innovative minded coaches that is a big factor.


October 20th, 2013 at 1:02 AM ^

The offense/defense balance has become too skewed in the offense's favor.  Safety rules like the crackdown on targeting can't be changed, but rules that give the defense more of a chance to substitute between plays would be a good idea.  (And I've felt this way for awhile; it's not a reaction to today's game.)  Seeing all these 49-42 games with 500+ yards of offense for each team gets tiresome after awhile.  



October 20th, 2013 at 5:14 PM ^

I don't think they should change any rules that favor one side of the ball or another. Its artificial and it bastardizes the game.

But I do not like these sorts of games, either, as a spectator. I've never been so bored by a game before last night. No particular play seemed very important until the last 5 minutes or so. Big third down early in the game? No such thing. Huge PA pass over the top? We'll need 4 more of those. It is just not exciting to me. It reminded me of basketball, in which nothing is ever decided until the last minute or so. Its not for me. But that doesn't mean football should change to fit my viewing taste.


October 20th, 2013 at 1:04 AM ^

Interesting question, Chicago B!GRed.

I think change in college football comes and goes in cycles; it may take some time for defenses to innovate and come up with the way to beat the uptempo offense.

It's interesting also that Kevin Wilson today acknowledged that his uptempo offense puts pressure on his team's defense. So while it kept them in the game today until the last quarter, it may have also cost them the game.

The same complaint was made of the pressure the RR offense put on a defense, in terms of how long they had to be out on the field.

It may be that we will see this trend temper itself without any rule changes, especially as defenses catch up and learn what to do to stop it.


October 20th, 2013 at 12:59 PM ^

I'm not sure what the counterpunch to this could be, given that defenses have a hard time substituting.  That really limits what you can call defensively and can cause your D to be more tired.  I think changing the rules to allow the defense more of a chance to substitute is only fair.  



October 20th, 2013 at 1:21 AM ^

was light-speed fast compared to what Rich Rod did here.  It's much faster than Oregon's as well.  It felt like that game was 5-6 quarters long.  I thinkthe offense has a huge advantage by being able to come to the line as soon as the ref places the ball and then have the sideline call a play, handcuffing the defense.  I don't know what the solution is, but aside from Michigan winning the game, that wasn't very enjoyable to sit through.

The one rule that MUST be changed is that a ball cvarrier be called for face-masking when they stiff arm.  It is NEVER called and should be.  Why can the offensive player grab a facemask or a helmet and not get penalizied.

Also, the hits like the ones that Roby did today need a stiffer penalty.  He made helmet-to-helmet twice before being tossed.  I think if a player is kicked out of a game and also the next one, then it might change the way DBs hit.



October 20th, 2013 at 9:21 PM ^

that officials has to let the defense sub if the offense sub.  If defense tries to sub while the offense doesn't sub and snap a play, tough luck.  That's exactly what happened on the first TD play.


October 20th, 2013 at 3:47 AM ^

I'm embarrassed that the D gave up so many yards.  Sure, our O put up even more yards, but honestly this was kind of embarrassing.  I miss seeing a dominate Michigan D, where all 11 helmets are flying to the ball like hungry, wild dogs.


October 20th, 2013 at 3:51 AM ^

would be to change the rules on OL holding to what they were 40 years ago, and then instruct the refs to throw the goddamn flag.


October 20th, 2013 at 4:59 AM ^

I'm guessing you had no problem when NU perfected their option and simply ran roughshod over the Big 8. It's the same principle. They and ND were the only two teams running it as their standard offense and that is why they were successful. This, however, was prior to the great equalizer; the spread. I like it.  Defensive masters will still win fb games. Look no further than Alabama to justify that statement.  You say you're sick of "pinball games" but every team other than WI and MSU use this as "their balanced attack" as you stated. I see nothing wrong with this. NU,UM, NW all use it as part of their attack and, of course, OSU, uses it as their standard. The difference being though between this and the option of the 90s is the qbs can actually throw the football.  I think it makes for a very exciting chess match, myself.        ^As a kid growing up I recall the "triple threat" was a back in the single wing that could throw, pass and catch.  Now it's reduced to a "dual threat" where you don't have to worry about him catching it out of the backfield, but you pray he's not on target with his passes.   I believe today in the Top 20, Oct 19, 2013, 5 teams went down to defeat.  History dictates that all things evolve or become extinct.   ^Yeah, for those teams that can go out, and we're one of them, and recruit the top prospects in the nation year after year, those teams, if we play "within an accepted element of offense" of course will continue to thrive and nothing will change. You saw what Michigan likes to do. Run the ball between tackles and then throw. But that is not how we gained advantage. It was the added element of the "now accepted" dual threat and principles of the spread that allowed us the victory.  Perhaps in two years, we'll be a Bama where we can keep their offense off the field with long extended drives, then actually stop the opposing offense. But not yet. I don't mind at all DCs earning their pay and not being embarrassed by giving up 40 points.  ^ The one aspect you are ignoring here, imo anyway, is only a very small amount of teams can assemble the talent required to play the game in the manner you like. Bama can. They've proven that. FSU, is on their tail. They don't ask Jameis to run the spread because it's not needed. Michigan is recruiting in similar fashion and within a couple of years will have that talent assembled. If they have the coaching staff in hand to handle it, we'll take that step. And our talent on both sides of the ball will be too much for the majority of our opponents to handle.  ^ You Braska fans weren't here yet some 15-20 years ago, but you enjoyed the same priviliges of OU in the Big 8. Just get more talent. Then Joe Tiller came to Purdue with his version of the "modern spread," actually the run and gun and changed things. Alvarez took over at WI and took home grown, corn-fed boys and put together a great program, one that would eventually move to the top of the league. Barnett at NW, of all places, introduced his offensive philosophy and NW beat UM 54-51 and the Purple were on to the Rose Bowl.   Suddenly the Big X was kicking ass everywhere, including the bowl games. Why? Because certain coaches dared make changes and although it wasn't lasting in terms of power shift in the conference, it certainly introduced a new wave that other conferences followed and the results were the same.   ^Ultimately the Big Boys regained power but the face of football was changed forever. There was no longer the Big 2 and the rest in the 10 and the 8. There was always a team out there ready to challenge. If you want to regress to those days then yes, your recipe is the correct one.  The traditional powers will once again no longer be challenged. But as a fan of one of the traditional powers, I am all in favor of coaching and strategy being every bit as important as simply signing four and five star players and saying, "do this," and expecting victory. If we're really all that, then it's as every bit important that our coaching staff and not just our players be four and five star as well.

Nosce Te Ipsum

October 20th, 2013 at 8:18 PM ^

Wonderful post. While reading I felt the underlying message was that of act and react. The reaction to these new forms of offense are not at a point where one would call them anywhere near successful. You stated that certain coaches dared to step outside the box with regards to offense. The same will have to be said about defensive coaches to curtail these offensive onslaughts. 


October 20th, 2013 at 6:40 AM ^

While it is true that the rules have been skewed to help the offense, teams need to do better on defense. In this day and age your secondary has to be elite, your LBs have to be able to play man coverage and the defense as a whole needs to have great awareness playing zone. I hate watching shooutouts too but nothing is better than watching a defense dominate a great offense.


October 20th, 2013 at 7:08 AM ^

"Time to change the rules and give defense a chance. Give me games with some big hits, slobbernocking, trench warfare, defensive struggles, praying the field goal will be missed......"

I have to wonder if athleticism and innovation on offense have a lot to do with what you're discussing here as I believe coaches over the past 20 years have been looking for ways to not find themselves in the 17-10 games of old. That being said, which rules in the book would you consider changing specifically? That might help the discussion here. 

Avon Barksdale

October 20th, 2013 at 7:41 AM ^

I think that college football should go to the NFL style of clock management. The clock doesn't stop on 1st downs and put the 2 minute warning in. Regular games are taking 3.5 hours and spread games are taking 4+ hours every week.


October 20th, 2013 at 8:12 AM ^

Ever? Look, the game is the game. If your defense can't stop another teams offense, then that's their fault. You don't handicap bad defenses just so that the game is low scoring again.


October 20th, 2013 at 9:13 AM ^

As someone else stated, it's less about rule changes and more about scheme.  So you want to offenses just because many coaches around the country have figured out how to score lots and lots of points (under the idea that at the end of the day, whoever has the most points wins)?  Pretty sure Fielding Yost ran his teams under the same philosophy, as did the Mad Magicians.  No need to change the game just because more teams are doing it now.


October 20th, 2013 at 9:45 AM ^

Look at the Oregon-WSU game: it looks very similar to UM-IU. The biggest differences were that Oregon was +2 and Indiana was better on 3rd down.

Big scores tend to happen when you play spread vs. spread. A clock-eating Manball offense is the perfect complement to a BBDB turnover-creating defense facing an uptempo spread team.


October 20th, 2013 at 9:48 AM ^

I was thinking during the game that the pace would be ok if the defense had enough timeouts to call one after 5 or 6 plays. It would be game theoretically interesting if the pace of the offense were somehow tied to the number of timeouts the other team gets. Of course I know that'll never happen, but it would add to the chess match element.


October 20th, 2013 at 10:09 AM ^

I mentioned this in the Defense snowflake thread, but if you stop the clocks to reset the chains, shouldn't you wait until the chains are set to start the clock?  That is the point, right?  If it isn't, then we might as well go to the NFL model of running clock.  

If it is, you could get crazy and allow the home team to control the chain gang.  Michigan could train their chain gang to move slow, while IU could train theirs to go fast.  An added element to the home field advantage.

[Note: I don't necessarily advocate the second solution, I think it would be interesting.]



October 20th, 2013 at 10:15 AM ^

Purdue I think got into MSU's red zone once.  MSU only scored 1 offensive touchdown, the other 7 came from a fumble and return.

Yesterday was silly,  and I do feel that maybe some of the rules about pass coverage could bet tweaked, but no way should things like the targeting rule and head to head stuff be changed.   We simply know better about how serious concussions are nowadays. 


October 20th, 2013 at 10:21 AM ^

Has there ever been a team that plays manball use up tempo as a primary approach (not just when behind with little time left in the game)?  It would be interesting to see what a team like Wisconsin could do with a no-huddle offense.


October 20th, 2013 at 10:38 AM ^

we could decrease the size of hockey rinks and have more fighting...

and instead of hand-checking, let Craft just grab guys...

etc etc etc