In the first game of the season Saturday, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson needed only 14 offensive plays to find fault with an official’s interpretation of a clarified rule about blocking below the waist.
Johnson said the team sent in video of the call to the ACC league office for a ruling on an illegal-block penalty on A-back Dennis Andrews in the first quarter of a 70-0 win over Elon. The new rule language states that downfield players can block defenders below the waist from the front, defined as between “10 o’clock and 2 o’clock” of the player being blocked.
The official “said, ‘They’ve got to hit him 10 to 2,’ which (Andrews) did,” Johnson said. “We’ll see. I mean, it’s a close call.”
Johnson was furious after the penalty, pointing and giving officials an earful. On the play, Andrews came at Elon defensive back Akeem Langham, who was angling from deep in the secondary toward quarterback Vad Lee. Andrews appeared to throw his cut block in front of Langham, but the angle of the block and Langham’s pursuit caused him to fall on his side.
With Tech, there is sensitivity regarding blocks below the waist. While virtually every team cut blocks, they are a fundamental element of Tech’s offense. Cut blocks are within the rules if performed properly and not to be confused with chop blocks, which are illegal. A chop block is a double-team block in which one player blocks a defender high and another blocks low.
“They’ve got to call it the way the rule’s written,” Johnson said. “Sometimes they like to make their own interpretations. It’s pretty clear, the rule. If you’re coming straight on, it’s not an issue. If you’re going from the side, then it is.”
The 15-yard penalty erased an 8-yard run by Lee and left Tech facing a first-and-17. Two plays later, B-back Zach Laskey scored on a 33-yard run.