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Need-to-know rule changes heading into the 2022 season

The NCAA has cut down on how and where blindside blocks can be thrown, among other changes.

With the season now less than 10 days away, our friends at the National Football Foundation have circulated this refresher on need-to-know rule changes installed ahead of the 2022 campaign.

"The mission of the Rules Committee is to develop and evaluate rules changes that will enhance the sport, protect the image of the game, and enhance the student athlete's health and safety," said College Football Officiating head Steve Shaw. "Player safety has been the highest priority of the committee for many years now resulting in significant changes that have improved the game in terms of mitigating injuries. Specifically, the new Blocking Below the Waist rule, and the other modifications to the rules for 2022 will be a benefit for the student-athletes, the fans and the game."

Further limitation on cut blocks. Moving forward, all blocks below the waist outside the tackle box are prohibited. Backs must be stationary and inside the box at the snap in order to throw cut blocks. This was done in an effort to cut down on knee injuries for defensive players. 

More review on targeting fouls. An egregious miss by an official on a targeting flag no longer guarantees a player will miss the first half of the following game. Teams can submit plays for review to the NCAA coordinator of officials and, if the coordinator of officials finds the player was penalized in error, the penalty will be overturned and the player will be permitted to play in the first half of the following game. Unfortunately, the NCAA coordinator of officials does not have time traveling capabilities to put the penalized player back in the game he was incorrectly ejected from.

Sternly worded letters to injury fakers. The NCAA playing rules committee debated at length requiring players who trigger injury timeouts to sit for more than one play, but in the end decided it could incentivize actually-injured players to stay on the field when they really should demand a timeout. So instead, teams and conferences can report flagrant injury fakers to the NCAA coordinator of officials, who would review the tape and then submit a report to the offending team's conference and/or school, who would then decide what, if any, punishment is appropriate. That'll show 'em!

The Kenny Pickett Rule. Ball-carriers will now be ruled down the moment they begin motioning toward a feet-first slide. 

Other changes. Defensive holding now carries an automatic first down; clock adjustment on plays overturned via replay are now limited to the final two minutes of both halves; illegal touching now triggers a loss of down.

And, finally, the illegal blindside block penalty will be signaled like this:

illegal block

And now you know, folks.