Created:Saturday, August 11, 2012 11:00 p.m.CDT
Updated:Sunday, August 12, 2012 11:17 p.m.CDT
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Huskies addressing new helmet rules

By Steve Nitz - snitz@shawmedia.com
Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren watches his team during a drill at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb on Friday, Aug. 10. Doeren said the coaching staff will have to pay attention to how tight helmets are and make sure the players are thinking about it as well, due to the NCAA's new rule changes regarding helmets coming off. (Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)

DeKALB – Perez Ashford says his helmet hasn’t come off during a game.

The Northern Illinois senior wide receiver also is good about wearing his chin strap tight.

“As far as it coming off, another helmet would probably have to get underneath your chin or your facemask to have it pop off,” Ashford said. “It’s kind of rare.”

It might be rare, but this season, because of the new NCAA rules regarding helmets coming off, Ashford said he is going to make sure his chin strap is even tighter.

Now, if a player’s helmet comes completely off and it’s not the direct result of an opposing player’s personal foul, he has to sit out one play. If this happens and there is less than one minute in a half and the helmet coming off is the only reason for the play stoppage, the opposing team has the option of a 10-second runoff, which can be avoided with a timeout.

If a ball carrier such as Ashford’s helmet comes off, the play is automatically dead. If a player other than the ball carrier’s helmet comes off and he continues to play, it is a personal foul and a 15-yard penalty.

When the game gets into the second half, players are going to get sweaty, and there’s a greater chance of the helmet popping off. There’s just no avoiding that. However, players around the country probably will be paying attention to their chin straps a little more this season.

“Helmets are made a certain way. It fits you when your head’s not all wet,” NIU coach Dave Doeren said. “It gets lubricated, obviously, when you sweat, so guys are just going to have to understand when they sweat they’re going to have to buckle things up.”

Doeren has talked to his team about the rule change, and the Huskies even had officials come talk to them about the rule changes Saturday night. Doeren said officials speak to the team twice each season.

NIU’s second-year coach said the coaching staff will have to pay attention to how tight helmets are and make sure the players are thinking about that as well. It’s just one more thing coaches and players will have on their minds.

“When the guys get really sweaty it’s an issue,” Doeren said. “So, we’re going to have to really pay attention to how tight their helmets are and make sure the guys are monitoring it.”

The jury is still out on exactly how the new rule change will affect the game. Safety is always going to be a priority, and it’s a big reason behind the change and something Doeren recognizes.

“Anytime they say that a player has to come out for a play due to something happening that he may not have had control over, doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said. “But I understand they’re trying to protect players and they want to make sure guys are safe, so we’ll see how it goes. And they may change it after a year like they’ve done a lot of times.”

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