How safe is too safe?

Published 11:12 pm Monday, November 19, 2012

Officials meet to discuss a call during the Troy-Arkansas game on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (Photo/Troy University)

Troy head coach Larry Blakeney feels player safety rules unfair for officials

Following a 41-34 loss to Arkansas State, Troy football head coach Larry Blakeney held back very little in voicing his opinion about the enforcement of player safety rules.

In the post game press conference the 22-year coaching veteran didn’t slam officials, but instead defended them saying the rules are too difficult for them to properly interpret.

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“The rules are obviously slanted towards the health of the student-athlete,” Blakeney said on Saturday.

“What do you do? There are some big, strong people playing this game and they play fast and when they run into each other, they make a lot of noise.

“Sometimes it hurts one or the other. Sometimes it hurts both. Nobody is mandated to play this game at any level. I don’t have the answers, I do have some opinions though.”

Troy was flagged twice for personal fouls on physical hits by linebacker De’Von Terry and safety Brynden Trawick. Replay showed both plays appeared legal.

Blakeney readdressed the issue in Monday’s press conference.

“I’ve looked at the plays and I think we were in compliance with the rules,” Blakeney said.

“I still stand by what I said the other night though. The game is faster than to expect human beings to tell which part of the body hits what part of the body. We need to take care of the kids, we need to have rules to help do that. I don’t know what those rules need to be, but I the ones right now are not working.”

The NCAA rules committee has stepped up its efforts to protect defenseless players concentrating on defensive players leading with the crown of their helmet. Blakeney said that once the change came about, coaches began teaching players to focus on seeing who they were tackling. The execution of the rule is what is in question at least from Blakeney’s perspective.

“If you’re not launching and you’re not trying to actually hit with the crown of your helmet then I don’t think it’s a foul,” he said. “It’s hard to expect that out of a human being to be able to discern where exactly a player was trying to hit someone.”

Troy quarterback Corey Robinson echoed his coach saying football is a rough game, but more times than not it is clear when a player’s intent is to harm another player or not.

“You can always tell when somebody is trying to do something is not right,” Robinson said.

Troy has also been called for kick catch interference twice this season. That rule states that a punt or kick returner must be given an unimpeded opportunity to catch the kick. A defensive player downfield to cover the punt or kick must provide the returner one yard to attempt to catch the ball before making contact.

On Saturday, Troy linebacker Kanorris Davis, who has been called for kick catch interference once already this season, was unsure of his distance from Arkansas State punt returner Rocky Hayes and stopped three yards away. After fielding the punt, Hayes raced around Davis and downfield for a big return. A block in the back penalty negated the return, but it could have cost the Trojans.

“How does he know that?” Blakeney said of Davis’ decision-making in the heat of a play. “Normally, that would have been a tackle by Kanorris Davis.”

While an answer to player safety rule issue isn’t clear, Blakeney feels it should be addressed soon.

“They’re producing these rules that their people have a hard time getting it right,” Blakeney said. “I think it’s unfair to ask those guys out there, even if there is seven of them, to get it 100% right.”