But if the rules won't be changed, defenses will be forced to adapt in any and all beneficial ways. According to ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit, one of those tactics is preordained fake injuries.
"No one is talking about this, but look for more fake injuries by the defense," Herbstreit said, per Jon Solomon of AL.com. "I've talked to defensive coaches. These guys are actually practicing faking injuries in practice."
The concept of fake injuries isn't foreign, but it's certainly frowned upon. Some defenses would sometimes resort to the tactic when playing against Oregon under coach Chip Kelly—and some of the most egregious offenses went viral.
One of the most notable cases involved Cal:
And another one involved Stanford:
So Herbstreit's claim about fake injuries shouldn't shatter anyone's world. It's something players have done to help slow down the no-huddle in the past. What separates Herbie's claim, and what makes it so interesting, is how unabashed the practice has become.
The way Herbstreit spoke, it sounded like defensive coaches were unapologetic in practicing fake injuries. They aren't ashamed of their complicity in the theatrics, despite how shameful it might seem in practice.
Things appear to have reached a tipping point between defensive coordinators and no-huddle play-callers, the former thinking the latter have an unfair advantage. Teams will use any and all means necessary to slow down the pace of game, even if it's ostensibly "unethical."
In the wake of this claim, it will be interesting to watch how officials call the game. They can't, in all good conscience, penalize a guy for feigning injury. What if they're wrong and he's actually hurt? They could lose their job.
Much like soccer, which has its own time-wasting fake injury epidemic, this might become a sad reality of the game.
It's a bit of a farce, but unless something changes, this is how coaches will proceed.