Vanderbilt and Notre Dame played on Saturday; the eighth-ranked Irish won the game, 22-17, but the battle between the two sides’ head coaches continued into this week.
At issue was Vanderbilt defenders’ tactic of cutting Notre Dame offensive players. See below for an example.
These are the plays Brian Kelly is upset with….
There was one more on the TE & two more on pulling guards I couldn’t find online. pic.twitter.com/jPvArpCuHa
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) September 19, 2018
Brian Kelly called the practice “bad football.”
“It’s legal, but it’s bad football,” Kelly said, via Yahoo. “It’s just bad football. And I have no problem saying it. You know, we’re so concerned about frontal cuts and we got a defensive end chopping him on every play, and he hung in there every play, was digging him out, blocking in line.”
Derek Mason was asked about Kelly’s comments on Wednesday, and he did not mince words.
“I don’t really care much about Brian Kelly’s comments about football. When you go back and watch that game from the holding to the post chops by Notre Dame, I thought it was bad football on their part,” Mason said.
“What it comes down to is that the game gets played on the football field. Nowadays, we’re asking defensive players to raise the target, lower the target, hit with their eyes up. All of these things are really a part of football. With Brian Kelly, Brian Kelly can take his comments and keep it moving. If he’s got something personal with me, he can come see me.”
The concept of defensive players cutting their offensive counterparts is, it’s fair to say, controversial. When my colleagues retweeted the above video, a flood of responses poured in defending the tactic.
Then ALL blocks below the waist should be illegal. Allow the offense to do it, but not the defense? Smart play, rough, but smart. Why take on a guy, head up, with 10yd head start on you, that weighs equal to, or more than you?
— Coach Jason Wilfawn (@PeakSpecialists) September 19, 2018
Why does it need to stop? If the TE cut the LB instead, then it’s a “great block”.
— Coach Dober (@coachdober) September 19, 2018
Seems like a double standard! Offense can cut but defense does the same thing and its dirty?
— Coach Cron (@coach_cron) September 19, 2018
For the record, here’s the NCAA’s official cut block ruling:
Linemen with initial position completely inside the tackle box [inside the alignment of the offensive tackles] may legally block below the waist inside the tackle box until the ball leaves the tackle box. All other Team A players are allowed to block below the waist only if the force of the initial contact is directed from the front. “Directed from the front” is defined as within the clock face region between “10 o’clock and 2 o’clock” forward of the area of concentration of the player being blocked.
-Team A players may not block below the waist when the block occurs five yards or more beyond the neutral zone.
-Players outside the tackle box at the snap, or any time after the snap, or in motion at the snap may not block below the waist toward the original position of the ball at the snap.
-Once the ball has left the tackle box, a player may not block below the waist toward his own end line.
So there you go. Hopefully the folks at the AFCA can get Kelly and Mason on stage to debate the issue at this year’s convention.