New Football Rules for 2014

The 2014 season will not see any major rule changes except for the adoption of a dose of common sense and a new can of confusion worms on roughing the passer.

The NCAA has modified the rule on targeting again by adopting a change that nearly everyone who was following college football believed needed to be adopted.

Now if a video review of an ejection for targeting overturns the call on the field, the player not only returns to the game but now the 15 yard penalty for targeting is wiped out unless there is another personal foul. For example if a defensive player is flagged for roughing the passer and ejected for targeting, video can overturn the ejection but not the roughing passer the foul. If the quarterback were running on that play and the defender was ejected for targeting and a 15 yard targeting foul was assessed, both the penalty and ejection can be over-turned.

While common sense reigned on targeting, roughing the passer has just opened the door to become more confusing.

Roughing the passer can now occur when the quarterback is in "passing posture" with one or both feet on the ground and is hit forcibly at or below the knee, if the defender isn't being blocked. The rule also applies if the defender rolls or lunges to hit the quarterback at or below the knee. It is now possible to rough the passer on a sack in college football. The change shouldn't be that confusing to NFL fans. The NFL has a similar rule that protects QB's being sacked.

Here's where it gets confusing. There are three exceptions.
1. The quarterback becomes a runner.
2. The defender has grabbed or wrapped the QB in an attempt to make a conventional tackle.
3. The defender is not rushing unabated or is blocked or fouled into the passer.

Lot of potential for confusion here.

Take the first exception, it is very common for a QB to run out of the pocket under pressure then set-up again to pass. Presumably resuming a passing posture returns the QB to protected status, the question becomes what happens when the pursuing defender has lunged before it is obvious that the QB again wants to attempt a pass? Is the defender held to strict enforcement or does it become a judgment call for the referee that what was attempted as legal when it started?

I'm not sure how the second exception would come into play unless it would be a situation where a QB shucked the tackle and the defender lunged but it seems unlikely that the QB would be passing posture.

The final exception creates another potential problem for the referee. If the defender being blocked finally breaks the block of an offensive player and lunges, is he at that point rushing unabated?

Rule changes for 2014 were only supposed to be emergency rules or critical safety rules. Next year is a regular year for rule changes so you are likely to see more changes for 2015 and maybe another Bret Bielema and Nick Saban run at improving the game by slowing it down.