Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
The SEC coaches line up one-by-one every Wednesday to take questions from members of the SEC media, and this week's teleconference was littered with news, nuggets and information that fans need to know heading into Week 9.
What were some of the highlights?
Targeting Rule Explained
SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw made a special appearance after all 14 coaches made the rounds to discuss what has become one of the most controversial rule changes in recent college football history. Three SEC players were ejected after targeting penalties during a 25-minute span during the first round of games Saturday, and Shaw did what he could to quell what is rapidly becoming a major firestorm.
"The rule is working as the rule's makers wanted it to," Shaw said. "The rule was intended to modify player behavior, change how coaches interact with their players and modify their behavior on the field. What may be surprising to you is that the overall targeting fouls are down this year over last year, even with the increased emphasis that we've had."
In FBS this season, there have been 52 targeting fouls, 14 of which were made in games involving SEC teams. Of those 14, six of them have been overturned. But according to the rule, the 15-yard penalty remains despite instant replay overturning ejections. That may change, according to Shaw.
"Even our commissioner (Mike Slive) has serious reservations about the penalty philosophy around targeting fouls when they're overturned," Shaw said. "He and I have talked, and together we are going to work with the rules committee to revisit the penalty if a targeting call is overturned."
It appears that the rule is here to stay, which means hits like Georgia Ray Drew had on Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels are here to stay.
"Two (of the four from last weekend) were absolute textbook targeting," Shaw said. "One was in the gray area, but clearly, by rule, it was a targeting foul. And then we had one that was properly overturned."
Coaches have adjusted the way they approach practice as a result of the new rule.
"Anytime in practice, anything that would have been close, we show that as a team," Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said. "You can take it overboard and say, 'Everybody just go low and target the knees every time'. We don't make that much of an emphasis of it; we just want to go low, right around the mid-section."
But the emphasis on the targeting foul clearly has coaches concerned about the risk that goes along with more players making a concerted effort to go low to avoid a foul and ejection.
"A lot schools have no trouble with it," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "They tell their guys, 'Stay low, hit 'em in the waist.' You're getting a few more knees knocked out in some places because of this, but hopefully players will tackle around the chest area."
Will Johnny Manziel Play This Saturday?
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel briefly left the game last week in the fourth quarter in the loss to Auburn, and his status for this weekend's game versus Vanderbilt is still up in the air.
"His status remains hopeful," head coach Kevin Sumlin said.
One person who isn't too concerned about Manziel's status is Commodore head coach James Franklin. When asked who he expects under center this week, Franklin didn't mince words.
"Manziel's playing," he said. "I don't think there's any doubt or question about that whatsoever."
Franklin went on to discuss just how important Manziel is to the Aggie offense.
"Johnny Manziel is the 'X-factor' as everybody knows," Franklin said. "Everybody's seen it on TV, we've watched it on coaches' film and studied it, everybody's had plans to stop or contain him and haven't had much success at doing it."
Florida head coach Will Muschamp is still dealing with the injury bug. Linebacker Jeremi Powell is the latest Gator to go down with a season-ending injury after the redshirt freshman tore his ACL in the loss to Missouri.
In addition to the loss of Powell, linebacker Ronald Powell has been nursing an ankle injury and hasn't practiced this week, although Muschamp expects him back for the Georgia game on Nov. 2.
"Ronald Powell, I think we'll get him back on the field next week," Muschamp said.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy won't throw this week after suffering a shoulder injury two weeks ago against LSU. Muschamp expects him back for the Georgia game but is growing frustrated with the rapidly growing injury list.
“It’s just one of those years’’ Muschamp said. “It's unfortunate, but it's part of the game, and you gotta coach through it and you gotta play through it."
Steve Spurrier confirmed that quarterback Connor Shaw isn't going to practice much this week but should back up Dylan Thompson Saturday night at Missouri. He also expects defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles back.
"Kelcy Quarles, our defensive tackle, had a sprained knee that looks like it's coming around," Spurrier said. "He could be available to play some. We're very healthy when compared to a lot of teams in the SEC and a lot of teams in the country."
LSU head coach Les Miles is the most entertaining member of the 14 SEC head coaches, due in part to his infinite wisdom and creative use of the English language.
How does he rebound from last weekend's loss to Ole Miss?
"The approach has been we're beyond a time frame in which we'll look back," Miles said.
But it wasn't just Miles dropping knowledge on the assembled members of the media Wednesday. The Head Ball Coach has a theory on the outcomes of college football games.
"In 50 percent of every game, there's a loser," Spurrier said.
Yogi Berra and Brian Fantana approve.
Spurrier also talked a little smack about Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin's golf game.
"We went on a golf trip this summer to Ireland," Spurrier said. "He's one golfer I can beat."
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.