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ET Football: Coaches preparing now for 40-second clock coming in fall

By Hayden Henry
April 30, 2014 at 10 p.m.


Each year as the style and nature of the game changes, rules from the higher levels of football trickle down to the high school level.

Such is the case for the 2014 season, with the University Interscholastic League implementing the use of a 40-second play clock.

Several East Texas coaches agreed that with the pace of today's game, the switch won't be much of an issue but it's something that they will address throughout the offseason and spring practice.

"I don't think it's going to be a great challenge but it's something we're definitely going to address in our scrimmages during spring football," Marshall head coach Clint Harper said. "We've just got to work it into the game plan so that kids and coaches are conscience of it."

The new rule puts high school football in Texas up to date with NCAA standards, which made the switch from the 24-second clock to the 40-second version in 2008.

Beginning this fall, the play clock will begin counting down from 40 seconds once the previous play has been called dead, taking away the inconsistent time it once took officials to spot the ball and signal to begin the 25-second clock.

"It takes the pace of play out of the officials' hands a little more. You're not going to work off the pace of an officiating crew. It's set and as soon as the ball is dead, it goes," Longview head coach John King said. "Some crews work faster and some work slower and that can change throughout the game but not anymore.

"It's going to be more consistent."

Again with teams embracing an up-tempo style of play offensively, it shouldn't be an issue.

"People that I've talked to that coach in the college level tell me that there's not much difference," Hallsville head coach David Plunk said. "The way we run our offense and the state of the game, it shouldn't be a factor."

Harper added: "For no huddle teams like we are, it's just something to get used to. It pushes the tempo to where everyone is headed anyway."

Longview brought officials to an intra-squad scrimmage this past Tuesday to get a taste of how the game clock will affect the pace of play. For the most part, there were no issues with the Lobos, who didn't receive any delay-of-game penalties in the scrimmage and only a handful of times saw the clock tick down to single digits.

"We didn't have too many issues (Tuesday) with the clock," King said. "One thing that it will change from a coaching standpoint is discussing plays or spots with officials. You're just not going to have the time. As soon as the ball is dead, you've got to be ready to roll. You've got to have a short memory, stay focused and move on to the next play."

Lobo defensive coordinator Casey Pearce said that from a defensive standpoint, coaches and players have just got to be more aware of what's going on and plan ahead.

"Dealing with the tempo offenses that we see more times than not, I don't think it's going to be too much of an issue," Pearce said. "It's going to affect our substitutions. It'll make you plan a play ahead more often now ... just trying to keep people fresh and get them in and out more efficiently for substitutions and personnel adjustments."

Schools do have the option to upgrade their clocks to the new 40-second clock or use the traditional 25-second clock, which puts the timing back in the hands of the officiating crew.

<em>From the UIL website: <strong>Question:</strong> Is the 25-second clock required? <strong>Answer:</strong> No! If a 25-second clock is in operation and the home team will use it, the visiting team will also use it. There is no mandate to install a 25-second clock any time in the near future because of the added cost to schools for installation and operation. If schools want to purchase a 25-second clock or a new scoreboard with a 25-second clock, they may do so. However, to repeat, Texas' high schools are not required to use the clock in their football games.</em>

Longview, Hallsville and Marshall have upgraded or are in the process of making the switch to the 40-second clock.

"Sometimes you could have plenty of time to call a play and other times you could look up and you're down to 15 seconds and you're scrambling to get a play off," Harper said. "This will make it consistent every play."

<em>(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/hayden_h" target="_blank">@hayden_h</a>)</em>

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