Syracuse to adjust tackling techniques under new targeting rule

Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer discussed the new NCAA targeting rule at a press conference at Manley Field House Sunday afternoon. The rule, which states that officials can eject players who target and contact defenseless players above the shoulders, is effective starting this season.

Shafer said he plans on teaching his team new tackling techniques in a meeting on Monday. One key point, guided especially toward new players, will be keeping their “eyes to the sky” while making contact.

He supports the rule and added that the purpose behind it is to “protect the kids,” which is his primary objective.

“It’s going to be inevitable that there’ll be some helmet-to-helmet contact,” Shafer said, “but the biggest thing is just teaching the kids what targeting is and making sure they understand the parameters and such.”

However, one of his main points of emphasis was to avoid being overly cautious. He thinks players get hurt more when they back off and play with hesitation than they do when going at full throttle.

“There’s that fine line that all of us coaches around the country will be dealing with this targeting rule,” Shafer said, “but at the end of the day I think it will sort itself out to be just fine.”

Shafer to implement split-field reps

Shafer said he plans to use split-field reps as a way to get his players more time on the field.

By dividing the field in half, it gives players twice the reps and twice the time to look at tape between practices.

“The tough thing about that is they’re going to wear down when they’re getting five, six, seven, eight reps in a row,” Shafer said, “which is a good thing, but you’ve got to be smart.”

He said he’ll closely monitor the number of reps each player gets and splitting the field will ensure that the coaching staff gets a sufficient look at each player.

“Reps are an interesting thing,” Shafer said. “For us we just have to be diligent. Some of the guys have been in the program for a few years so we have a good feel of what their strengths are.”

Howard academically ineligible

Outside linebacker Malcolm Howard is academically ineligible this season, Shafer said at the team’s annual media day Sunday.

“He came up short academically, so unfortunately for him he won’t be part of the program,” Shafer said.

Howard, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound linebacker, transferred to Syracuse from Navarro Community College in late March and would have had two years of eligibility and the option to use a redshirt year. He was slotted behind junior Cameron Lynch and senior Lewellyn Coker at outside linebacker on the Orange’s preseason depth chart.

Other than that, Shafer said everyone is healthy and cleared academically heading into training camp. He said the last injury and medical checkups were going on “as we speak,” around 1:17 p.m.


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