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Random Friday Thoughts

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Earlier this week Nick Saban caused a bit of a ruckus during the SEC conference call talking about player safety.

"I think that the way people are going no-huddle right now, that at some point in time we should look at how fast we allow games to go in terms of player safety"

"You go on a 14-, 16-, 18-play drive and they're snapping the ball as fast as they can and you look out there and all your players are walking around and can't even get lined up. I mean that's when guys have a much greater chance of getting hurt when they're not ready to play. I think that's something that can be looked at."

The NCAA rulebook has a rule in place to allow the defensive team time to complete substitutions whenever the offensive team makes a substitution. Rule 3-5-2 states:

While in the process of substitution or simulated substitution, Team A is prohibited from rushing quickly to the line of scrimmage with the obvious attempt of creating a defensive disadvantage. If the ball is ready for play, the game officials will not permit the ball to be snapped until Team B has placed substitutes in position and replaced players have left the field of play. Team B must react promptly with its substitutes.

Of course for this rule to be applied, the game officials have to be aware of offensive substitutions. Teams have been known to try and sneak subs into the game following a play that ends along their sideline. The officials are watching the play and making sure there are no signs of trouble while the offensive team sneaks in players without allowing the defense to recognize the personnel changes. When the referee notices the offensive team rushing in subs, he will hold his arms out forming a "T", this signals to the umpire that substitutions are being made and the ball is not ready for play.

Saban's other "concern" about the pace of play has also raised the issue that the no-huddle and pass heavy approaches has led to more plays per game. More plays per game will by nature increase the chance of injury for players. However, looking through various websites I could not find a significant change in the average number of plays per game through the last 10 years. According to the NCAA's statistics, the number of plays per team has stayed right around 70 per game.

One major difference so far this year is that 16 teams are averaging 84 or more plays per game on offense. In the previous three years, only three total teams have been at 84 plays. This may even out as teams get into their conference schedules or it might mark a significant trend. The other issue that will arise due to more plays will be the games getting longer. From what I've read and heard, the NCAA really wants to keep games to 3 hours. I couldn't find any data about the length of games but if teams are running more plays and more passes, it stands to reason that games will get longer. So I'm going to make a prediction about a rule change in the next year or two. The NCAA will start winding the clock when the ball is set for play after every play (including incomplete passes) outside of the last 2 minutes of each half. This will speed up games and they can use the player safety argument that Saban mentioned.

Sunflower Showdown

During the weekly press conference with Charlie Weis, an interesting comment was made about his approach to the weekend. Here's what he said:

‘We're 1-3, they're 4-0, let's go in there and just try to keep it close. That'll make the fan base happy. Let's go in there and try to keep it close. I mean, I'd rather lose by 100 trying to win."

Is this a change in philosophy from the off-season message of step 1 is to get competitive? It sure reads like it to me. Maybe he's just saying this to signal that he plans on doing all he can to stay in the game but it doesn't read like that. My skeptical side reads this as laying the groundwork to justify Crist throwing the ball 40 times again this week. I hope that's not what we end up seeing but this is a significant change from the offseason talking point and we've seen the offense completely abandon the run game in the 2nd half of games this year.

A quick second thought on the Sunflower Showdown is about the makeup of each team. The JUCO angle was brought up in Charlie's presser and I'm kind of surprised his response to garner more attention around here. Sounds like he is planning on going very JUCO heavy for next season. Anyway, looking at KSU's roster this morning I counted 56 players listed as being from Kansas. I counted 26 on the Kansas roster. It's simply amazing to me that practically two-thirds of the Wildcat roster is listed as being from Kansas.

SB Nation United

What do you guys think? I don't understand the lack of content on the homepage and how it pulls up on mobile. Using my iPhone, the pictures and stories take forever to load. Then to actually read any content, I have to pull up the story instead of browsing what was before the jump on the main page. The stories load fairly well, not too surprising that text loads without too much of an issue. The white space on each page and the font are uncomfortable for my eyes. Reading the sites simply aren't as easy or enjoyable for me right now. I'm not a huge fan of how stories are placed throughout the site but I can still find what I'm looking for most of the time. But when people are navigating to the RSS feeds, fanposts page, and fanshots page instead of the homepage to access content, I think it's a pretty good sign that whatever you were hoping to do with the redesign failed.

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