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NCAA football rule change could end the pop pass

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One of football's newest wrinkles might be grounded before it can fully take off.

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

A proposed change to the NCAA rule for illegal men downfield could make a big impact on how some offenses operate, via the AP's Ralph Russo. The current rule allows offensive linemen to move 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage on passing plays, and the proposed change would pull that back to only 1 yard beyond the line, which is the rule in the NFL.

The proposal will be voted on in March, and if approved, will go into effect for the 2015 season.

This would make it extremely difficult to pull off some of football's trendiest plays without committing a penalty for illegal man downfield. The play has become more common over the past few seasons, with Auburn's Gus Malzahn being the most notable coach to use it. Auburn would be far from the only team affected by this rule change, though.

This piece from SB Nation's Ian Boyd goes into great detail about the pop pass and its origins, but the short description goes like this: A pop pass is a play in which the offensive line run blocks and the quarterback shows run before pulling up for a pass at the last second. It's a devastating play when pulled off correctly, but it frequently involves offensive linemen well beyond the 3-yard limit.

The pop pass may not exactly be commonplace, but it's prevalent enough to have seeped into the NFL, a development that Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll attributed to Malzahn.