Officials are changing the way they watch for ineligible receiver downfield and the idea is that could curb some of the outrageous success offenses are having with RPO concepts, especially in the Big 12. Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer doesn't think so.
One of the other changes for this season in college football that we heard about last weekend at the Big 12 and CFO West officials clinic in Irving, Texas was not a rule, but a change in mechanics to better officiate a critical rule in today's college football. You have no doubt heard the term RPO (run-pass option). It is the bane of every defensive coordinator in the Big 12 as teams in this league, including Oklahoma State, run the RPO schemes in every game. By rule offensive linemen are allowed to fire off the ball three-yards and still be considered attached and okay for pass blocking.
"Why three? What offensive guy came up with three," Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer asked the other day. "Back in the day you couldn't pass the line of scrimmage. That's ridiculous (three-yards)."
In recent seasons the umpire on the officiating crew has been the official that has been most responsible to monitor offensive linemen and how far they were getting from the line of scrimmage. The primary responsibility for monitoring ineligible receiver downfield is now on the (LOS) line of scrimmage officials (head linesman and line judge) instead of the umpire. The umpire can still monitor but it falls primarily on the LOS officials and it is a point of emphasis to catch linemen that are even a half-yard past the three-yard rule.
They hammered this at the clinic and when that happens it usually gets called a significant amount more than in previous seasons. Replay can be involved on plays where the pass is close to or behind the line of scrimmage. The rule changes there and linemen can fire off and got as far downfield as they want and/or can.
It still adds up to frustration for defensive coordinators and linebackers and safeties trying to use offensive linemen to read run or pass at the snap of the ball. Spencer says forget about it. You can't.
"The old days of reading that key is gone," Spencer emphasized. "That key has been gone for years to linebackers. Every play is a run and every play is a pass and you have to defend them that way. It really effects safety help more than linebacker, if that makes sense. The extra guy (for run support) is going to come from the secondary, a safety."
For what it is worth, I will predict that you won't see linemen being able to cheat and get an extra half-yard or two. Coaches have been complaining about that and with the change in mechanics that should help. The defense needs some help.