AMHERST- Big changes are coming this season to an FBS campus near you.
You don’t need to be an expert to see that CFB is entirely different than it was just 5 years ago. Between the new Transfer Portal and NIL, College Football is not the same sport your parents or even your older brother grew up on. And while the debate has been fierce about whether or not it’s good for the sport long term, there’s one rule change on the field that has gone under the radar.
Back in April, the NCAA announced 3 rule changes, The biggest one being that the game clock will continue to run when a first down is gained. Previously, the clock would stop after a first down and then would start to run again when the chains moved. While the change may seem minor, it may leave more of an impact than people think.
Steve Shaw, the secretary-editor of the NCAA rules committee, said that the expectation is that the number of plays in a game will reduce by an average of 7 plays; but University of Massachusetts Defensive Coordinator Keith Dudzsinski believes that it may have an even bigger impact.
“We’ve read a bunch of different articles and analysis about it, and we think it’s gonna be around 8-12 plays less a game.”
With fewer plays, it’s imperative to make the most out of every possession on both sides of the ball. UMass is one of the teams that will have to adjust the way they play on offense, as last season they were 16th in the country in average time of possession, but last in scoring. Coach Dudzinski still believes that the rule change will play to the Minutemen’s advantage based on their style of play.
“It’s really gonna help us, especially with the way we go about the game, both offensively and defensively. We like to use the clock control on offense, and our philosophy is to try to keep it close so when we get to the 4th quarter, we’re in a position to win a game or have the lead and run the ball down.”
For a program that has only one FBS win in the past two seasons, the Minutemen must take the new rule change and find a way to use it to their advantage. The good news is that the rule does play to their strategy. The UMass defensive unit took pride in their ability to get offenses off the field last season, and with more time being taken off the clock, it puts the defense in a position to play even more aggressively. However, on the other side of that coin, UMass cannot afford to put themselves behind early, something that has plagued the program throughout the past several seasons. Five losses during the 2022 season had the Minutemen down by 2+ touchdowns before the 4th quarter. With the new rule changes putting a premium on time management, UMass will have to find ways to stay in games longer or face another season of heartache.
Dudzinski realizes that the rule changes will play to the advantage of the UMass defense, and doesn’t see too much of a change in how they run things.
“If you’ve seen us play, you know that we’re a big package team so we’re gonna have to do a great job at getting our packages on and off the field, but I don’t see it being a big problem for us.”
When talking to CB Jordan Mahoney, who had a breakout year for the Minutemen last season, about his feelings on the rule change, his mindset stays the same
“Business as usual.”
Follow Kyle Miller on Twitter at @kylemiller_pxp