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Anyone can fake a cramp injury in football. They are seen so often on televised games. Fall to the ground, grab your leg, and have a teammate or trainer stretch your foot and bend the toes.
This happened continuously — real or fake — in Ole Miss’ 31-26 victory at Tennessee Saturday. There were 18 stops for injuries in between plays, according to the play-by-play, including 11 in the fourth quarter. Ole Miss’ offense broke a school record in the game with 101 plays, which was its most since 100 snaps in a 37-32 loss at Wyoming in 2004.
The 101 plays were the ninth most in SEC history and most since Texas A&M ran 107 in a 74-72 win over LSU in 2018, and that was a seven-overtime game. Tennessee ran only 79 plays, but Ole Miss players were dropping like flies as the Vols tried to take the lead late in the fourth quarter with their up-tempo attack after getting within five with 13:41 to go.
“The rules committee looks at that during every off season,” Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said. “I’m the wrong guy to ask about how we change that.”
Ole Miss may not have been the only ones acting though. Tennessee offensive lineman Javontez Spraggins was exiting the game with an equipment issue when someone on the Tennessee sideline apparently told him to flop, which he did. Television cameras showed that he was obviously not hurt.
“You’re not going to stop it (faking injuries) until you say a guy has to stay out for so many plays,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said on the SEC teleconference on Wednesday. “Like anything, there has got to be a penalty for it. Really, if you want to change it, let the conference review it, look at the film, and when they deem it to be an obvious faking of an injury, then there’s a penalty, a fine, and I promise you it would never happen anywhere.”
Until then, Kiffin may plan to continue to finesse the fake injury non-rule.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said he sees why some players fake injuries.
“When a team goes fast, which every team has a right to go fast, and go on long drives, you’ve got to exert a lot of energy to play defense,” he said. “So players get tired. When players get tired, they’re more susceptible to getting injured probably. And you don’t have enough timeouts to call timeout. So, I understand why some people do it. We’ve not done it here.”
It was Saban who warned of more non-fake injuries occurring when he campaigned in 2014 for a rule to require offenses to wait 10 seconds to snap the ball for defensive substitutions and to slow the game down. Fewer plays, fewer injuries was his argument. The NCAA has never adopted such a rule, and the number of plays are increasing.
“I probably shouldn’t even be trying to answer that question,” Saban said.
SATURDAY’S GAMES (All times central with FanDuel point spreads.)
Arkansas Pine-Bluff (1-5, 0-4 Southwestern Athetlic Conference) at Arkansas (4-3, 1-3 SEC), point spread not available, 11 a.m., SEC Network; LSU (4-3, 2-2) at No. 12 Ole Miss (5-1, 2-1), 9.5-point favorite, 2:30 p.m., CBS; Mississippi State (3-3, 1-2), 20.5 favorite, at Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-3), 3 p.m., SEC Network; Tennessee (4-3, 2-2) at No. 4 Alabama (6-1, 3-1), 24.5 favorite, 6 p.m., ESPN; South Carolina (4-3, 1-3) at No. 17 Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2), 19.5 favorites, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network.
1.Georgia (7-0, 5-0). 2. Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2). 3. Alabama (6-1, 3-1). 4. Kentucky (6-1, 4-1). 5. Ole Miss (5-1, 2-1). 6. Auburn (5-2, 2-1). 7. Arkansas (4-3, 1-3). 8. Florida (4-3, 2-3). 9. LSU (4-3, 2-2). 10. Mississippi State (3-3, 1-2). 11. Tennessee (4-3, 2-2). 12. Missouri (3-4, 0-3). 13. South Carolina (4-3, 1-3). 14. Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-3).
STAT OF THE WEEK
Florida allowed 321 yards rushing to LSU in a 49-42 loss last week after the Tigers came in as one of the worst rushing offenses in the nation with 83.3 yards a game and just 500 yards through six games. Tailback Tyrion Davis-Price set the LSU rushing record with 287 yards on 36 carries. That was also the most rushing yards allowed by Florida since Herschel Walker gained 238 in a 26-20 win over the Gators in 1980.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I know that’s very few of our crowd.”
-Tennessee coach Josh Heupel on Tennessee fans throwing water bottles and other items, including a golf ball and a mustard container, late in 31-26 loss to Ole Miss after a correct call in which Tennessee did not get a critical first down.
Actually, it was hundreds more than a few, pal.