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September 2, 2008

Coaches happy with new round of clock rules

RELATED: Monday with Mike: Wrong turn for Pitt | What we learned in Week 1

Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe has no complaints about the new 40-second play clock. And that was the case for most coaches during the first run of the new rule during the opening weekend.

Grobe's Demon Deacons got off 80 plays in a 41-13 victory at Baylor on Thursday night. That's about the same number Wake averaged last season.

"I thought there was a good flow to the game," Grobe said. "We knew what to expect and that wasn't always the case in the past. Sometimes, it may take us a series or two to get used to how an officiating crew would mark the ball and start the game clock."

No new rules change implemented for this season caused as much talk as the 40-second clock. You'll recall the college game altered the play clock in 2006 in an attempt to speed up games. It worked, as the average time of games went from 3:21 to 3:07. But the quicker system cut around 13 plays from each game. Fewer plays potentially may mean fewer points, which some feel would make for a less exciting brand of football.

Last season, the play clock reverted to 2005 standards, which featured a 25-second play clock that started at the discretion of the officials. The result was more plays -- and also longer games, as the average time moved back up to 3:22. But this fall, the college game altered the play clock again, this time adopting a system similar to the NFL.

"Several schools have switched to a no-huddle offense in response to the new rule," former Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "I don't know if that's necessary. NFL teams don't go no-huddle all the time, and they are able to get plays off in time. We always felt if you break the huddle with 16 seconds on the play clock, we'd be OK."

Based on a random sample of "Big Six" programs, the new rule had minimal impact on the number of plays schools were able to run in the opening weekend. Even more telling: None of the coaches from the schools I surveyed was asked about the new play clock in the postgame news conference.

Oklahoma ran 84 plays in a 57-2 win over Chattanooga after averaging 70 in 2007.

Northwestern averaged 77.3 plays in 2007 and got off 77 in a 30-10 victory over Syracuse.

Georgia ran 59 plays in its 45-21 win over Georgia Southern. Last year, the Bulldogs averaged 67 plays.

In a 34-0 thumping over N.C. State, South Carolina got off 69 plays, which was the Gamecocks' average last season.

Maryland ran 66 plays in a 14-7 win over Delaware. The Terps averaged 60.4 last season.

California got off 66 plays in a 38-31 triumph over Michigan State after averaging 68 in 2007.

"I think the new clock is great," Connecticut coach Randy Edsall said. "It has brought consistency and uniformity to the game.

"I'm glad we have the new rule."

THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE: Dienhart's Week 1 Awards

1. USC
3. Georgia
5. Florida
8. LSU
9. Auburn
10. Texas
12. Kansas
13. Oregon
Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe: Kragthorpe is a class act and terrific coach. But a 27-2 home loss to Kentucky was no way to start the season after a 6-6 first run in Louisville.

The Cardinals generated a paltry 205 yards of offense and had five turnovers.

But Kragthorpe has been cleaning up the Louisville roster in an attempt to develop better chemistry and character. He's too good of a coach not to get the program back on track. Be patient, Cardinals fans: Kragthorpe will get it done.
1. Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri
2. Pat White, QB, West Virginia
3. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
Wish I were him: Nick Saban, Alabama
Glad I'm not him: Tommy Bowden, Clemson
Lucky, lucky: Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
Unlucky, unlucky: Mike Riley, Oregon State
Desperately seeking a clue: Dave Wannstedt, Pitt
Desperately seeking a P.R. man: Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
Desperately seeking sunglasses and a fake beard: Mike Sherman, Texas A&M
Desperately seeking ... anything: Rich Rodriguez, Michigan

Thought you'd kick butt and you did: Ohio State
Thought you'd kick butt and you didn't: Virginia Tech
Thought you'd get your butt kicked, and you did: Washington
Thought you'd get your butt kicked, and you didn't: Stanford
Dang, they're good: USC
Dang, they're bad: Syracuse
You ain't fooling anybody (in a bad way): North Carolina
You're fooling everybody (in a good way): Kentucky
Did the season start?: Mississippi State
Can the season end?: N.C. State
Can the season never end?: Missouri

Play this again: Missouri 52, Illinois 42
Never play this again: Oklahoma 57, Chattanooga 2
What?: East Carolina 27, Virginia Tech 22
Huh?: Arkansas State 18, Texas A&M 14
You're kidding me: Bowling Green 27, Pitt 17
Told you so: Alabama 34, Clemson 10

Ticket to die for: Miami at Florida
Best non-Big Six tilt: Houston at Oklahoma State
Upset alert: East Carolina over West Virginia in Greenville, N.C.
Must win: Pitt over Buffalo in Pittsburgh
Great game no one is talking about: UConn at Temple
Intriguing coaching matchup: Cincinnati's Brian Kelly vs. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops
Who's bringing the body bags?: Southeast Missouri State at Missouri
Why are they playing?: Northern Colorado at Purdue
Plenty of good seats remaining: Northwestern at Duke
They shoot horses, don't they?: Utah State at Oregon

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com.

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