Is there anything more frustrating than seeing a promising drive derailed by an obvious fake injury? Tennessee ran into that a few times during the 2021 season — the first year under Josh Heupel, who runs a lightning fast offense built on tempo.
The idea is simple: the less time a defense has to line up, the more advantage the offense has. Defenses across college football have countered by faking injuries. Most teams do it, some more than others. Heck, Tennessee has done it a time or two. All it takes is a player hitting the ground with a “cramp” and boom, here’s your free chance to regroup, sub and get back into position.
Let’s face it — it happens. It’s a shame it happens too, for all of the actual injuries that do occur. The last thing you want to do as a fan is boo a kid that just blew out his knee. However, if the injury happens against a team running tempo, it’s worth questioning, especially when it happens time and time again.
Purdue pretty clearly had this strategy going during the Music City Bowl. So much so that a referee actually said something to Josh Heupel about it. He even suggested a potential rule change.
Against Purdue, it seemed to happen ahead of key downs. Against Ole Miss, it seemed to happen after any play that gained over five yards. Teams know that they can utilize it and get away with it, and something should be done about it.
How about this? If a player delays a game with an injury, that player must then sit out for the remainder of the drive. I bet the number of injury timeout would absolutely plummet.
No word right now on if anything like that is even being considered, but an official mentioning this to Heupel mid-game is pretty noteworthy.