Pelini says MSU clapping threw off snaps

Nebraska coach accuses Spartans of impact center-quarterback exchanges, while Mark Dantonio said it was a way the Michigan State defense communicates.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini did not mix words after last season’s loss to Michigan State. That was the case again Tuesday.

On the weekly Big Ten teleconference, Pelini accused Michigan State’s defense of clapping to disrupt Nebraska’s snap count in the Spartans’ 27-22 win on Saturday, adding he will be talking to the Big Ten office about it.

“There were a couple times when the opposing team clapped and our center heard a clap and snapped the football,” Pelini said.

The Huskers operate on a clap-based snap, as quarterback Tommy Armstrong uses clapping for the snap count to signal center Mark Pelini.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio was asked about the clapping later on the teleconference. His response was it is one of the ways the Spartans communicate with each other.

“We have different ways we have to move our front,” Dantonio said. “Some of that is in clapping, some of that is all kinds of hand signals for us. I think what happened was he heard a clap, but their center was not looking at the quarterback when he snaps the ball. Maybe that’s the way they do it, but in the environment we have here, he has to look at the quarterback.

”From my perspective, we have to move our people and we have the opportunity to move our people any way we want to move them.”

The NCAA rulebook addresses pre-snap defensive regulation, as it reads: "No player shall use words or signals that disconcert opponents when they are preparing to put the ball in play. No player may call defensive signals that simulate the sound or cadence of (or otherwise interfere with) offensive starting signals.”

Nebraska had two false starts and a delay of game penalty on Saturday. The Huskers also had an early snap on a fourth-and-10 in the third quarter, which resulted in a loss of four yards on a fumbled snap by Tommy Armstrong and a turnover on downs.

Michigan State linebacker Ed Davis was the player clapping before that play, which he said is a common thing for the Spartans to do to communicate. In this instance, he explained it was a signal to defensive end Marcus Rush what he was about to do.

“It is indicating that I’m gone (dropping into coverage),” he said.

Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said the Spartans have a variety of signals they employ to communicate, including clapping.

“We clap our butts, we clap our hands, we raise the roof, we tap our heads,” he said. “We’ve got little things. Every week we change them, but we’ve got different things we do. We do it all the time.”

Of the talk about clapping, senior linebacker Taiwan Jones said “it’s crazy” and “I didn’t really think it was that big of a deal.”

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