John Hoover

Ask Hoover: More than you ever wanted to know about Forced Touching, Sooner RBs, TU kickers and Tylan Wallace

Ask Hoover: More than you ever wanted to know about Forced Touching, Sooner RBs, TU kickers and Tylan Wallace

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts watches from the sideline during the final moments of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Manhattan, Kan. Kansas State won 48-41. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

So many questions in this week’s Ask Hoover blog, I’m gonna have to keep the answers short. I don’t want the Internet to run out of space.

OU is off, OSU hosts TCU and Tulsa visits Tulane. The Golden Hurricane will have a hard time winning any games from this point on if they can’t find someone to kick field goals (more on that below), and OSU will have a hard time winning anything without maybe the best receiver in the country, Tylan Wallace, who suffered some kind of knee injury in practice on Wednesday and, according to The Oklahoman, is having MRIs performed to determine the severity.

And OU needs to grow, and fast, from its loss at Kansas State. If the Sooners respond to adverse conditions like that, then they’re simply not who we thought they were.

I talk a lot about these questions and more on my daily OU podcast, “Locked On Sooners,” and I go in-depth on topics just like these on my semi-weekly Franchise podcast, “Inside OU” with Brady Trantham and Rufus Alexander. Both are available anywhere you get your podcasts, and “Inside OU” is available right here at TheFranchiseOK.com.

Let’s get to the questions:

 

That’s what I wrote yesterday for the website. (Find that story here.) Sermon and Brooks are averaging about six carries per game. You might be able to win a third straight Heisman Trophy doing that, but you will not win a national championship.

 

Maybe. But I think this loss was as thorough as I’ve seen from a team: poor coaching, poor play-calling, poor line play on both sides, a fumbled kickoff return, a dropped pass for an interception (both turnovers resulting in touchdowns), and botched officiating at the end of the game. Oh, and Kansas State coached brilliantly and played their butts off.

OU should have had no chance to win this game.

And yet …

 

Not me, not undefeated. Although I can think of one writer who picked them to challenge for a spot in the Big 12 title game: yours truly made Baylor his Big 12 darkhorse this year. My editor at Sporting News even asked, “you sure about this?”

 

Yeah, you might be onto something. I wrote about that in my column yesterday. (You can read that here.)

But Lincoln himself said he should have run the ball more. He also said he should have managed the clock better at the end. I thought the second trick play was a bad idea (execution failed on the catch, but that’s why you should avoid trick plays: too much can go wrong. Also, does OU really need trick plays to beat K-State?)

Bottom line: Lincoln is a brilliant football coach, and he didn’t have a good game. Those two things can both be true.

 

The answer, unequivocally, is no.

Although they would be a lot closer if they hadn’t had a startling rash of injuries.

 

My FWAA Super 16 ballot this week is as follows: 1, Ohio State. 2, LSU. 3, Alabama. 4, Clemson. 5, Penn State. 6, Florida. 7, Georgia. 8, Utah. 9, Baylor. 10, Oklahoma. 11, Minnesota. 12, Auburn. 13, Oregon. 14, Wisconsin. 15, Michigan. 16, SMU.

 

I’d agree with LSU and Ohio State. They’re playing at a really high level this year and seem able to peak every Saturday. Alabama’s injuries and inexperience, especially on defense, are a red flag. And Clemson just looks disinterested for large stretches of games. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, no?

Also, I’m willing to say that, after two months of coaching, Chris Klieman has his players playing good football.

 

It was a thorough collapse: offensive play-calling and decision-making, defensive strategy, effort and preparedness on both offensive and defensive lines, abysmal linebacker play, poor technique in the secondary, an inability to deliver clutch plays — it all came together for an OU loss.

Now throw in the opposite of every one of those for Kansas State.

Only three Sooners performed at a winning level: Jalen Hurts, CeeDee Lamb and Gabe Brkic.

OU is the better football team, but Kansas State played better.

 

By rule, “forced touching” creates an exception to the rule that prohibits players on the kicking team from touching the football before it goes 10 yards.

Somehow, officials — including Big 12 coordinator of officials Greg Burks — say the block on Trejan Bridges was not “forced touching,” meaning their interpretation was that the block did not force Bridges to make contact with the football.

They’re wrong. It did. And they’re building a fort and holding their ground, telling everyone that what they’re seeing on video isn’t actually what they’re seeing.

It’s a bad look for the Big 12. I don’t know why they just don’t admit they blew the call, and then botched the review.

 

An illegal snap is when the center moves the football before he actually snaps it. The rule is there to prevent the center from simulating the start of the play and thus drawing the defense offsides.

 

There’s been a bit of a misunderstanding of the application of the NCAA rulebook. There’s no actual rule that says, “forced touching is not reviewable.”

The rulebook actually doesn’t officially allow for review of a lot of plays, per se. The NCAA has a fairly short list of plays that are reviewable — and then literally everything else is deemed “not reviewable.”

Where Saturday’s crew messed up, though, was in overlooking the recent addendum that allows for replay reviews to correct egregious mistakes. Looking at the replay, the K-State player blocking Trejan Bridges should have been determined as “forced touching,” which would have negated Bridges’ touch of the ball inside of 10 yards.

 

I don’t know what he saw. I just think he sees the obvious just like the rest of us and then says, “No, that’s not forced touching.”

Same as the NFL rule that looks at replay to determine pass interference. Pass interference isn’t exactly black and white. It’s actually about 75 percent gray. So looking a replay to determine something that’s largely subjective is a fool’s errand.

If you’re going to go to replay to determine these things, then there has to be no gray area. Either the K-State player blocked Trejan Bridges into the football, or he did not. In this case, he clearly did.

Fifteen years into this thing, it’s incredible that replay still needs a lot of fine tuning.

 

The ref who had eyes on it can not weigh in at that point. It’s out of his hands. The head referee, the replay ref and the Replay Operations Center in Las Colinas, are all communicating during the replay review to determine what happened and what the proper application of rule should be.

At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen.

 

That’s exactly what he’s saying. The only reviewable aspects of this play are the timing of the blocks by the kicking team (can’t block inside of 10 yards) and the touching of the ball by the kicking team (can’t touch the ball inside of 10 yards).

But he also said the player blocking Trejan Bridges was not “forced touching.” I strongly disagree with Greg Burks’ interpretation here, and here’s why: 100 percent of OU fans will say that the block caused Bridges to touch the football, and 100 percent of K-State fans will say that the block did not cause Bridges to touch the football. And fans of other teams around the country will probably fall somewhere closer to 50-50.

See the problem?

Officials wear black and white for a reason: the call is either this or it’s that. Replay reviews should not be open for interpretation. Subjectivity has no place in replay reviews. Humans make judgment calls on the field and it’s a tough job.

But watching a video from 10 different angles and determining that either this happened or it did not should not be subjective in any way. It either happened or it didn’t.

In this case, the K-State player’s block of Trejan Bridges CLEARLY affected Bridges’ path and contributed to his touching of the ball.

 

Not a question, but is the most concisely stated interpretation of what happened Saturday that I’ve seen. Bravo.

 

That’s the question of the day. If you seriously have the ability to re-watch every play and you still can’t get it right, then speed the game up and just do away with it.

 

Another eloquently stated case for a severe misapplication of the rule.

You have a rule, and you have an exception to the rule, but the rule falls under the purview of being not reviewable?

But that’s exactly why the NCAA added the “egregious error” clause that allows for common sense to prevail.

The Big 12 did not apply the “common sense” rule.

 

You people were on point this week. Good stuff.

 

Another perfect take. It’s like winning the lottery. Unfortunately, nobody’s getting rich here because you all have played the same winning numbers. Good job.

 

Replay has been in use on the college level since 2004. It was implemented in the Big 12 in 2005. And it continues to be an unnecessarily tangled mess.

Fortunately, the NCAA instituted a rule that allows for correcting of “egregious mistakes,” whether a play actually falls under the purview of replay or not.

Unfortunately, Saturday’s crew didn’t apply that rule.

 

Where’s the petition? I’ll sign it.

Let’s change it to “forced contact.”

 

That’s correct, they weren’t reviewing the contact inside of 10 yards, they were only reviewing the touching of the football inside of 10 yards.

I was just making the observation that one team is allowed to block inside of 10 yards and the other isn’t. Just interesting to me.

 

Here’s the best I can do:

 

Yes, that applies to both teams. If a player is forced into the football by his opponent, that’s considered “forced touching.” In this case, it would have negated the kicking team’s touch inside of 10 yards.

But the same call can be made if a player from the kicking team blocks a player from the receiving team into the football and then gains possession, such as on a punt.

 

Stiffarms to the facemask are within the rules so long as the offensive player doesn’t grasp the facemask.

You make a good point about the “hands to the face” penalty though. Maybe it’s because the player delivering the stiffarm has possession of the football and that allows him certain freedoms? I’ll ask my officiating friends and see if they can offer any clarity.

 

That’s a good question. Maybe it took twice as long as usual because they only saw the most revealing angle at the end? Replays are provided by the TV crew from the engineering truck outside in the parking lot, so maybe they didn’t find the right angle until the very end.

I’ve seen lots of other angles from local cameras on the field, and they were all definitive.

Also, and this may be treading into dangerous territory as it relates to “indisputable video evidence,” but if you’re looking at a two-dimensional video monitor and you see the football suddenly change speed, direction or rotation after it “appears” to contact a player, I think it’s safe to assume that it did actually contact that player. Footballs can bounce funny and all, but the laws of physics still apply.

 

On multiple levels. Here’s what I wrote this week:

 

Not good. At all.

What we’re seeing at TU is plenty of talent and ability but a crushing lack of confidence.

Will they all be seeing sports psychologists? Hypnotists? Tony Robbins? Because that appears to be the only way they’re gonna get out of this funk.

 

Not gonna happen before 2022 or ’23. The Big 12’s TV contracts and grant-of-rights come up in 2024-25, but there could always be movement before then if the Big Ten wants additional expansion (the Big Ten’s TV contracts renew in 2024, so networks will want some clarity on league membership before then, possibly late ’22 or early ’23). Also, if OU or Texas or anyone else wants to leave for the Big Ten, that’s a short enough timeframe that losing Big 12 TV money for 2-3 years to the grant-of-rights deal won’t be prohibitive — not with the Big Ten’s bottomless revenue stream.

I’ve gone back and forth on this.

OU wouldn’t have the kind of success in the SEC it’s having in the Big 12. That’s unrealistic. The Sooners would be in the SEC West with Alabama, LSU, Auburn and others, and that’s the hardest division in football

OU would have more success in the Big Ten, but the Sooners’ recruiting efforts would have to become even more national than they are now. Texas prospects wouldn’t want to come to OU nearly as much if all their road games were played in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota. And would enough of the best recruits from the Upper Midwest bleed the OU brand like so many Texas recruits do now? Doubt it.

Pac-12? That conference has all kinds of financial, administrative and image problems, plus the travel would be a nightmare.

I still think the Big Ten will make a play for Oklahoma, and, because of the money, I think the Sooners will be extremely tempted to listen.

 

That’s a long-form research project. Sorry.

I can tell you that Jason Kersey from The Athletic reported that Saturday’s six rushing attempts by Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks were the fewest in an OU game since 1999, when Michael Thornton ran the ball eight times.

Here’s what I wrote this week about the startling lack of carries for Sooner running backs, where it comes from and why it needs to change:

 

Technically, yes, every play is supposed to be reviewed. That’s why hurry-up offenses threw a wrench into the replay process a few years back. Things were moving too fast for the replay official to properly look at each play and keep up.

And you’re correct, reviews can’t determine fouls like illegal block in the back. Think of it this way: reviews are more intended to determine location — of the football, of the player, etc.

And actually, there was a flag for illegal touching — Bridges was flagged for touching the football before it went 10 yards. That’s the extended-hands-to-the-shoulders motion Reggie Smith used.

 

Maybe this will help:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty overrated, but it’s been that way for a decade.

I think one thing we can almost count on, like clockwork, is college football chaos in November. So yes, if Oklahoma plays like the team they did the first eight weeks of the season and run the table in impressive fashion, then they could absolutely find themselves right back in the playoff picture.

What the Sooners need to avoid is falling victim to that chaos themselves. Maybe this was their one hiccup.

OU also needs Kansas State to finish as strong as possible, and needs Baylor to be undefeated on Nov. 16 and have just one loss on Dec. 7.

 

I think you’re right, and I wrote that this week: Jalen Hurts having the football on 45 of your 53 plays might win you a third straight Heisman, but it won’t win you a national championship. Lincoln needs to get the football to his big backs and impose his will on defenses at the line of scrimmage.

(What we don’t know is if he’s choosing not to do that because his offensive line got taken to the woodshed on Saturday. Maybe he’s smarter than all of us after all.)

He also needs them to understand what it takes to win on the road. They failed at their first real test last week, and they’ve got two more tries: in Waco and in Stillwater.

He did pull all media interviews this week, so maybe that’s his first step.

 

No. Motley served his penance by getting kicked out of the K-State game. He probably did some in-house punishment, too. But I doubt Alex Grinch will bench a senior and put in a freshman for a huge stretch run against four pretty dynamic quarterbacks.

 

I don’t know. It’s been reported that he suffered a knee injury in practice on Wednesday and is having multiple MRIs. As of this writing, that’s all we know.

 

I can only begin to explore the possibilities on a Q&A blog. I’ll talk to some experts in the coming weeks and get their opinions.

Short version: elite players will have more opportunities than their peers, and that will be interesting to watch unfold in locker rooms around the nation. And I think that’ll happen everywhere. It will be a recruiting inducement, sure, but there are rich boosters in Boise and Orlando just like there are rich boosters in Tuscaloosa and Austin. (I’ll admit, the blue blood programs have more rich boosters, and they’re probably a big more spend-happy. But how’s that different than now?) Maybe this is the impetus small schools need to actually make up ground.

What needs to happen is the NCAA needs to come up with some kind of cap or structure by which players can profit off their name, image and likeness. I mean, good luck restricting a players’ earnings, but maybe since they’re not yet deemed employees, that can stay under control. Otherwise, this could become a tangled mess.

Also, coaches need to have some input here.

“Sorry coach, can’t watch film today. I got a shoot a commercial down at the car lot.”

Adrian Peterson got suspended for a half for not going to class. Can you imagine?

“Spencer Rattler won’t be playing this week because he violated team rules. He left practice early to sign autographs and he’s suspended for one game.”

College football could get weird.

 

I wasn’t asked to participate in this vote, but if I was, I’d have had Switzer in my Top 10.

Forget for a second the national championships and the wishbone innovations and the defensive All-Americans and consider that it was Switzer who opened up recruiting African-American athletes to elite programs like Texas and Alabama. In that way, Switzer literally helped change society.

Before him, many bluebloods thought they were above recruiting black players. It wasn’t a football thing, it was a society thing.

That’s why the SWAC and other HBCUs produced so many more NFL players then than they do now. Once those elite players started going to Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas and other powerhouse programs, they stopped going to Grambling and Southern and Jackson State.

Switzer belongs on any Top 10 list.

 

He lost control of his players, and to some degree they practically terrorized the campus. Three high-profile incidents in the span of a few months — one player shooting another, a gang rape, and the quarterback caught in a federal sting for selling cocaine — eventually forced the regents to demand Switzer’s resignation.

 

If I were Philip Mongtomery, I’d have mined the TU soccer teams for a kicker weeks ago, if not sooner. And I don’t just mean the men’s team. I know that the women’s team has several players who could calmly step into a college football game and hit a field goal.

You might think I’m being silly, but I’m not.

Signing up a female kicker at this stage would only bring positive attention to the football team and the athletic department at a time when the school is desperate for it.

 

Greatest game ever invented.

______

Formerly co-host of “Further Review” and “The Franchise Drive,” columnist John E. Hoover is a college football insider on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover co-hosts The Franchise “Inside OU” Podcast with Brady Trantham and Rufus Alexander, and the Locked oN Sooners podcast on the Locked oN Podcast Network. He also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his YouTube channel at YouTube.com/c/JohnHoover, and his personal page at johnehoover.com.

John Hoover
@JohnEHoover

John Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he was co-host of "Further Review" and "The Franchise Drive." Now he's The Franchise college football insider: Oklahoma's state Heisman rep, a voter in the FWAA Super 16 poll, an FWAA media access liaison, and a Big 12 writer at Sporting News and Lindy's preseason magazine. In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist and won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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