USA TODAY/Mark Konezny

LSU DE Lewis Neal thinks a 15-yard personal foul is excessive for tackling without a helmet

Lewis Neal thinks a 15-yard personal foul is excessive for tackling without a helmet.

A helmet? Lewis Neal doesn't need no stinking helmet.

The LSU defensive end had his ripped off during a play against Syracuse, but that didn't stop him. He kept going, tracked down the quarterback and brought him down for what should've been a sack.

Instead, it was a 15-yard personal foul. 

NCAA rules dictate a player must stop if his helmet comes off during the course of a play. If he doesn't, as Neal did Saturday, he'll get flagged. 

"That's hard for me because my motor is always going to run," Neal said. "I just have to slow down I guess...I just saw the quarterback and went to go get him. That's it. I didn't even really notice it."

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Neal understands why the rule's in place. It's meant to prevent head injuries, and the "helmet off" rule is more commonly enforced when a player has to take the next snap off after his helmet comes off during a play.

Not often does the personal foul come into effect though, because not everyone's willing to throw their bodies around without that protective casing around their noggin.

"I don't think I'm crazy," Neal said. "I'm just playing. It's nothing to me. Everybody on this team has probably played tackle football with no pads."

Neal does think the personal foul is excessive, though. In a perfect world, he said, the referees would blow the play dead if a player has his helmet ripped off in the middle of the action. If the penalty does stand, he believes a 5-yard punishment is more reasonable than a 15-yarder.

"That's my honest opinion about it," Neal said. "That's not going to be as bad as a personal foul, but it's not my choice anyway."

Neal's infraction ended up giving Syracuse a first down. The Orange scored two plays later and cut the deficit at the time to seven.

So even though he may disagree with the punishment, he certainly learned his lesson.

"I can't have that happen because it cost us a touchdown," Neal said. "It could've cost us the game. You never know what could've happened after that."

LSU coach Les Miles said Neal showed "great effort and energy" on the play. He just needs to remember what can happen as a result. 

LSU has a "corrections period" every Monday where Miles goes through every penalty and explains what happened and what the player has to do to fix it.

What was his advice for Neal?

"Just stop," Neal said with a laugh. "He can't say anything bad. I'm playing football and made a tackle."

Let's just keep that helmet on next time.


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