"When we first started running one-back offense, it was bark out a cadence, see what the defense was doing and decide whether to run the play that was called, or check to a different play," Legg said. "We'll figure it out as it goes."
If the rule change sticks, Cato will not only have to weigh what look the defense is giving, but how it changed personnel between snaps. "Which is something we talk about all the time, but we're not usually put in the situation where we have to do it because of the way we combine plays," Legg said.
OK, so we figure Legg can adapt. We can also figure he'll do so under protest. You figured he'd go along with Rich Rodriguez and other high-tempo coaches who howled immediately when news of hit of the "safety-related" rule change came about.
"Forget middle-of-the-game stuff," Legg said. "Some of the things they're not talking about is, what happens if you're down 10 points with five minutes to go in the game? [Remember, the 29-second rule would conveniently step aside in the final two minutes.] You need to score twice.
"That means you need to go to two-minute [offense]. No matter who you are. Alabama's going to have to go to two-minute offense twice in a row. And I don't buy into the injury factor, which is the reason they're trying to justify the rule. We've had fewer injuries the last two years than we had the previous years. ...
"One of the reasons we've lessened our injuries is we've in better shape, because this style of offense requires us to be in better shape. The way we practice keeps us in better shape."
Legg figures the more entertaining status quo will win out, as it probably should. He makes another interesting point.
"If I can't snap it in the first 10 seconds of the 40-second clock, why do we have a 40-second clock?" he said. "The 40-second clock was put into play to speed the game up. Now you're wanting to slow the game back down. It doesn't make a lot of sense."
The rule would give officials something else to worry about. Nobody seems to consider this: These guys are trying to adjust to the targeting rule, which is being tweaked this year, among with the zillion other chores they must perfect in a rapid-fire environment.
The 29-second rule doesn't seem like a hard rule to enforce, by itself. As national officiating coordinator Rogers Redding points out, the back judge has primary responsibility to monitor the play clock, so that is a logical progression. (Specifics have not been worked out, he cautions.)
Gerald Austin, C-USA's coordinator, sees a little more responsibility for the referee and the umpire (man behind the defensive line).
"Those three guys are going to be cognizant of the play clock, and [if] they see the ball snapped before it gets to 29, they're just going to shut it down," he said.
And assess the offense with the ironically named "delay of game" penalty. I just hope it doesn't become a call that can be thrown upstairs to the replay booth.
"I would hope not," Austin said. "I started to say, 'I wouldn't think so,' but I'd better modify that to 'I hope it doesn't end up being a replay.' I hope if we don't get it, it's just a miscall, like [if] holding doesn't get called."
Frankly, I hope this column is one long miscall. On March 6, the ultimate replay booth will render its decision.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.