NCAA referees are placing an emphasis on headhunting or targeting this season, which has Lou Tepper concerned.
The University at Buffalo defensive coordinator understands the intent of the rule — concussions are a huge point of discussion — but he would prefer that instant replay was involved.
If a hit to the head is deemed intentional or if a player lowers his head and leads with the crown of his helmet, the player will be ejected from the game. If the play occurs in the second half, the player will be tossed and also suspended for the first half of the next game.
Tepper said during training camp a defender hit a player on the shoulder pad with his head and Tepper figures if that were a real game he would have been ejected.
“There’s going to be errors and there’s going to be prejudice toward the defense,” Tepper said. “I’m very concerned about the rule. If we were going to have instant replay and they say, ‘Hey, that’s a good penalty or not,’ but they don’t. They throw you out and then afterwards they decide whether you’re going to play the next week.”
There are tailbacks who lead with their helmets, and Tepper figures defenders will get hit with penalties more often than not during those kinds of collisions.
“They’re coming head first and right into you and that’s rarely ever called,” he said. “We can be aiming for your chest and you could come with your head down and we’re going to get called for spearing. I think it’s troublesome legislation.”
Tepper teaches the “biting the ball” technique where if a ball carrier has the ball in either arm, the defender puts his facemask wherever the ball is.
“I want to attack it as though I were biting it and that keeps my face and not my head down,” Tepper said.
Junior tailback James Potts appears to have progressed nicely after a torn ACL kept him sidelined for most of last season. Other than missing a day when he sat out for precautionary reasons because of a knee bruise, Potts has participated fully in practice.
He said he has shown no ill effects from the surgery, cutting with ease on the left knee, and added he feels faster than when he arrived from Boynton Beach, Fla., four years ago.
“My freshman year during the summer, I ran a 4.37 but I haven’t run it since then but I definitely think I’m faster,” he said.“Every year you get bigger, stronger and faster so it’s only right that I get faster.”
Running backs coach Matt Simon said there was evidence of Potts’ increased speed prior to suffering the injury during the team’s win against Morgan State.
“He’s playing faster,” Simon said. “He’s more knowledgeable so his reaction and execution is a step quicker.”
UB has good depth in the backfield and it needs it because it’s been rare when the Bulls had a leading rusher who appeared in all 12 games in a season.