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NCAA football rule changes to affect targeting violations, QB protection

Know the latest rule tweaks so you're an expert for kickoff later this month

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

This spring, the NCAA Football Rules Committee approved rule changes that will take affect this season.  While the updates shouldn't have major affects on gameplay, they do tighten up areas where inconsistencies existed in the past.

Note that a previous proposal that would have barred teams from snapping the ball in the first 10 seconds of the play clock was NOT adopted.

- Update to Targeting Penalty: Yardage reviewable

In 2013 the NCAA introduced the targeting penalty, called when players "target" opponents on hits above the shoulders.  The penalty for targeting is a 15-yard penalty and an automatic ejection.  Targeting is a reviewable call; last season, the ejection could be overturned by the official upon replay review, but the yardage penalty could not be overturned.  This led to numerous scenarios when an official called targeting, the replay official reviewed the call and determined it was called incorrectly, but 15 yards would still get marked off.

In 2014, the yardage penalty and the ejection are both reviewable.  If replay determines the call was incorrect, the player is not disqualified and his team is not assessed a 15-yard penalty. This makes...a great deal of sense.

- Update to Roughing the Passer Penalty: Hits below the knee illegal.

The NCAA also altered the roughing the passer penalty to disallow hits below the knee of the quarterback.

The NCAA notes, "The proposed rules change specifically covers a scenario in which a quarterback is in a passing posture with one or both feet on the ground. In that situation, no defensive player rushing unabated can hit him forcibly at or below the knee. The defensive player also may not initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit the quarterback in the knee area or below."

(There is no penalty if the QB becomes a runner, if the defender wraps the QB up, or if he is blocked into passer).

Overall, both rule changes are pretty clear wins.  The targeting rule update was a no-brainer, as instances where a team was penalized after it was announced that the penalty was incorrect were...silly, to say the least.  And the update to the roughing the passer one is quite reasonable, especially with the NFL's stricter policies.