Tony Barnhart picks up on a facet of the new penalties for hits to defenseless players that I hadn’t noticed before.
But they have also made additions to the list of who qualifies as a defenseless player:
• A quarterback any time after a change of possession.
That last one will catch the attention of SEC fans. In last December’s SEC Championship Game, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray got his clock cleaned by Alabama’s Quinton Dialafter Murray had thrown an interception with about a minute left in the first half.
Georgia fans howled that it was a cheap shot to the head of their quarterback. Alabama fans said it was a clean hit and that the Georgia quarterback had become a defender. No penalty was called. The SEC reviewed the play and determined that no further action was warranted. Shaw did say, however, that Dial should have been penalized on the play but that the play didn’t rise to the level of an ejection.
But that was under the old rules. Regardless of which side you take on that particular play, the reality is that moving forward the rule has changed. A quarterback who throws an interception is by definition a defenseless player and any shot above the shoulders will be a penalty and a possible ejection. Players and coaches are going to have to adjust.
For me, that’s a day late and a penalty short. But what’s really gonna get me is when I see this called against a Georgia player in a questionable setting. By Penn Wagers.