Three option teams ranked in the 13th-fewest penalized teams last season, with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets ranking No. 13. (The Air Force Falcons, at No. 32, really need to straighten up and fly right (aviation term).) But the most common complaint raised against option teams like the Jackets is that of chop blocking, or the act of double-teaming a defensive player low and high at the same time.
The NCAA's clarified its ruling on cut blocks, which are legal, as part of a new rules package that included fiddling with kickoff locations. The description:
The rules panel also approved new wording in the football rules book regarding blocking below the waist. Offensive players in the tackle box at the snap who are not in motion are allowed to block below the waist legally without restriction. All other players are restricted from blocking below the waist with a few exceptions (for example, straight-ahead blocks).
Wide receivers and wingbacks lined up outside of the tackles thus may not crack back low on engaged defenders, but linemen can still block low, provided they do so mano e mano. This also guards against cut blocks occurring away from the action entirely, when the risk of injury comes with no real tactical reward.
None of this really changes chop blocks, which were illegal anyway (though not flagged often enough, Frank Beamer and Tom O'Brien agree), but Tech will need to study up to avoid letting its option brethren down.
For more on Jackets football, visit Georgia Tech blog From The Rumble Seat, plus SB Nation Atlanta.