Monken sounds off on cut-blocking rule change

Is college football’s cut-blocking rule change the start of phasing out run-heavy option teams like Army?

Army coach Jeff Monken thinks it could be. Monken isn’t a fan of the change, which only permits cut-blocking within the five yards of the line of scrimmage over engaging a defender down field in the past. The blocker must be in a 10-and-2 position with the defender. That detail of the rule has not changed.

“There’s a lot of people out there trying to get rid of blocking below the waist because they want to make it into a big man’s game and frankly, I don’t think they want to face this offense,” Monken said. “I think they would like to see it just eliminate this offense altogether. They might get it done but we are going to continue to do it. If they tell us we can’t block below the waist, I don’t think we can go change our offense.”

Monken added, “I don’t think it’s a great rule for football. Pretty soon if we eliminate blocking below the waist, it will become a big man’s game because a smaller athlete will not be able to win a one-and-one battle with a bigger player. I think that takes the parity out of the game. How does an undersized team have a chance to block a team that is bigger? They don’t. If you have two guys that are playing with really good pad level and really good fundamentals, physical superiority cancels all theory.”

Proponents for a reduction of cut-blocking would argue that it will decrease the risk for injury. Monken said there’s no data to support more injuries are sustained from cut blocking.

“No data at all,” Monken said. “Nobody has done any research on it. We block below the waist every day in practice against our scouts. We go the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense and block below the waist. We do it all spring, all preseason camp, every day in practice during our CIC (Commander in Chief’s live) periods.

“It’s amazing we don’t have anybody getting hurt. It’s learning to play a block and learning to play with your hands, defeating the block. It’s just playing football. We have far more guys that get hurt getting tackled below the waist than getting blocked below the waist. A block you can see coming. A tackle, you can’t see coming. Sometimes, they come from the side and you don’t see that tackle coming.”

Monken said his players, “are a little gun shy about throwing below the waist now because there’s all these rules about the angles that they got to come at and the 10 to 2 hitting in the front.” Army was flagged for one blocking-below-waist penalty against Duke in its season opener. Jaxson Deaton, who was whistled, wasn’t disputing the call, even though it took place within the five-yard limit.

“My block, I was a little sideways and he was a hot-pursuit linebacker so he was turned toward the side so that’s why it was called an illegal block,” Deaton said. “We are not really gun shy I would say. We are just more consciously aware of hot-pursuit linebackers making sure we are vertical and they aren’t scraping and not running side to side. Mainly, if we are out in the open field, we are going to stay up but if we are inside the box, we are going to take our shots.”

In his closing comments on the subject, Monken said, “I know I got off on a tangent but this is probably directed at a lot of coaches watching this that have complained about the blocking-below-the-waist-rule. I wish they would stop complaining.”

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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    Sal Interdonato

    Award-winning writer Sal Interdonato has been on the Army football beat since 2007. He'll take you inside the huddle and into the lives of the Black Knights. Read Full
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