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Kirk Ferentz sounds off on NCAA's low-blocking rule

Chad Leistikow
cleistik@dmreg.com

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz couldn’t bite his tongue any longer.

After Saturday’s 14-7 win against Rutgers, Ferentz felt it was time to voice displeasure over new language added to an NCAA low-blocking rule that he doesn’t feel has had consistent enforcement.

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“Four different weeks, four different interpretations on the rule,” Ferentz said. “It impacts a game, or potentially could. It did today, our first play of the second half.

“We’ve created a set of rules that are really hard to understand. I can tell you, I don’t understand them.”

The rule is about blocking below the waist — what’s legal and what’s not. The Hawkeyes had a 75-yard touchdown run by LeShun Daniels Jr. called back on the first play of the third quarter, when John O’Neill’s officiating crew ruled that right tackle Ike Boettger illegally blocked a Rutgers defender.

“They said it was an illegal block,” Ferentz said. “It sure looked good on the screen.”

On the play, Boettger dives and take out the legs of the defensive tackle. From the NCAA’s website, this year, “the rules dealing with low blocks were adjusted to prohibit a player who leaves the tackle box from blocking below the waist toward the initial position of the ball.

Clear as mud? Ferentz isn’t upset with specific officials. Even he — one of the most respected offensive line coaches in college football — doesn’t understand the rule that officials are trying to enforce.

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“We all have bosses," Ferentz said. "And if they give you rules that are cloudy and unclear, it’s really hard to execute your job well.

“It’s kind of been building with me a little bit. I think we’ve made this thing a lot tougher than it has to be.”

Instead of a long Daniels touchdown run pushing Iowa’s lead to 14-0, the Hawkeyes’ third-quarter drive went scoreless, and it remained a tense, one-score game the rest of the day.

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Ferentz said he wasn’t going to say anything publicly if Iowa hadn’t won the game.

“I’ll probably get fined from the national office, if we have one,” Ferentz said. “But so be it. It needs to be said.”

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was critical of college football's rule on offensive blocks below the waist after Saturday's 14-7 Big Ten Conference win over Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J.