To Big 12 supervisor of officials Walt Anderson, so far so good with the eighth official.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
He’s called the “alternate referee” and positions himself in the backfield, on the side the referee doesn’t occupy.
And like players, there are stats on officials. In 29 games where an eighth official was used through last weekend, he has thrown his flag 25 times. About half of those calls were offensive holding.
“In the past, those are calls we would have missed,” Anderson said. “Fouls would have been no-calls.”
When the additional official was announced at Big 12 football media day in July, it was presented as an opportunity to help referee crews place the ball and get set in a hurry. In this day of dizzying, hurry-up offenses, and fast substitutions, the eighth official figured to relieve some stress.
But earlier this week, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said he hadn’t noticed the difference.
“The eighth official doesn’t impact us, because we’re going at the pace we chose to get at,” said Snyder, whose Wildcats don’t play a hurry-up style. “It impacts us defensively because … people are snapping the ball when officials have their backs turned to the ball trying to get out of the way.”
Anderson said most of the feedback he’s received from coaches has been positive, but he knows kinks must be addressed.
“Like anything done for the first time it would be naive to think it would be perfect,” Anderson said. “We wanted to have some basic concept and general ideas as we go forward.
“I don’t want officiating adding or taking away from the game. We were hoping for a neutral but fair effect, and so far I think that’s been the case.”
Saturday’s Big 12 games
• Kansas at Texas, 2:30 p.m. on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel: A year ago, the Longhorns needed a short touchdown pass from Case McCoy with 12 seconds remaining to beat the Jayhawks. Can Kansas keep this one close? Both teams have taken the redshirt off dual-threat quarterbacks, Kansas’ Montell Cozart and Texas’ Tyrone Swoopes.
• Iowa State at Kansas State, 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1: This has been a heartbreaker of a series for Iowa State recently: they’ve lost the last four games by one possession and an average margin of 5.25. K-State played a terrific fourth quarter against West Virginia last week, and quarterbacks Jake Waters and Daniel Sams combined to complete 18 of 21 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns.
• West Virginia at TCU, 2:30 p.m. on ESPNU: TCU’s offense didn’t get much of a boost from the return of Casey Pachall last week in a 30-7 home loss to Texas. But the Horned Frogs still have a stout defense and lead the Big 12 in sacks. Clint Trickett gets the start for the Mountaineers. Both teams are 3-5 and the loser goes to the edge of bowl ineligibility.
• Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 6 p.m., on Fox (Ch. 4): The Cowboys have won four straight in the series, the last two by a combined 125-27 score. How about the wide receivers who have played in this rivalry over the past decade: Texas Tech’s Wes Welker and Michael Crabtree, Oklahoma State’s Rashaun Woods and Dez Bryant. These are the only schools in the Big 12 coached by former players at the schools, quarterbacks Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State and Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech.
Saturday’s SEC games
• Mississippi State at South Carolina, 11:21 a.m. on KSMO (Ch. 62): There’s new life for the Gamecocks after last weekend’s victory at Missouri, but South Carolina still needs a Mizzou loss to clear a path to the SEC title game. Quarterback Connor Shaw missed practices this week because of illness, but he didn’t practice much last week because of an injury and won the game for South Carolina. Mississippi State got on the board in SEC play with a victory over Kentucky, but the Bulldogs have to find two more victories to quality for a bowl.
• Florida vs. Georgia at Jacksonville, Fla., 2:30 p.m. on CBS (Ch. 5): Both teams bring a two-game losing streak into the game, and injuries have played a major role in their elimination from the national title race. Neither team is out of the East race, but, like South Carolina, need Missouri to lose. With two more touchdown passes, Georgia quarterback Aarron Murray will catch Danny Wuerffel for most touchdown passes in SEC history (114).
• Auburn at Arkansas, 5 p.m. on ESPN2: Look for Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to play after suffering a shoulder injury last weekend. Arkansas tries to stop the bleeding. The Razorbacks have lost five straight, the longest losing streak of coach Bret Bielema’s career. Arkansas is having trouble throwing, averaging an SEC-low 146 passing yards.
• Tennessee at Missouri, 6 p.m. on ESPN: Josh Dobbs, a true freshman, makes his starting debut as Tennessee’s quarterback. In last week’s loss to Alabama, Dobbs replaced Justin Worley, who left the game after reinjuring his thumb, and went five of 12 passing for 75 yards and rushed for 19. Dobbs led the Vols on its only two scoring drives. He’ll face the top sack team in the SEC. Missouri leads the league with 25.
• Alabama State at Kentucky, 6:30 p.m.: Jalen Whitlow should be back at quarterback for the Wildcats. He played only seven snaps last week against Mississippi State because of ankle and shoulder injuries.
• Texas-El Paso at Texas A&M, 8 p.m. on ESPN: The Aggies are 46-point favorites against the 1-6 Miners. The temptation is to say players like quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans will have big games, but they’ll likely have to put up the numbers by halftime. They shouldn’t play much in the second half.
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.