It wasn’t just Tylan Wallace’s 12 touchdown catches on the season – including several caught between two defenders such as in the Texas game – that got the fan base in Boone Pickens Stadium hollering for the Oklahoma State wide receiver.
In several instances last year, it was big, booming blocks by the Biletnikoff Award finalist on unsuspecting opponents that revved up the Cowboy faithful.
But now, the Oklahoma State junior is going to have to be careful of those exact moments that electrified the crowd as they come with a hefty price.
The block Wallace issued several times last season in which he was initially flagged for targeting – but later reviewed and reversed each time – is now illegal in the college game. Players are no longer allowed to deliver blind-side blocks by attacking an opponent with forcible contact. That will now be assessed a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
“It’s a little tough, because that’s been a thing I’ve always been doing since I was in pee-wee football,” Wallace said. “I’ve always done crack-back blocks or physical blocks like that, so it’s going to be a little tough trying to adjust to that.”
In fact, one of Wallace’s blind-side blocks last season was used in NCAA officiating videos clarifying what would be considered a penalty under the new rule.
Now, he’s going to have to change that aspect of his game.
“One of his best assets is he’s going to knock your teeth out,” associate head coach and receivers coach Kasey Dunn said. “He’s going to blast you, and he’s only, what, 195 (pounds)? But he’s probably the most physical receiver I’ve had in nine years here – that includes (Justin) Blackmon and a bunch of dudes.
“So for him to be dialed back like that … I’m scared, to be honest. It’s like telling a tiger not to hunt.”
The rule does not dictate a technique of how to make these blocks now, but Cowboy coach Mike Gundy likened it to effectively setting a screen in basketball to avoid the potential for the 15-yard penalty.
And Wallace sees a difficulty in living by the new rule, as you can work on these types of scenarios in practice, but it’s another thing when the adrenaline is flowing during the heat of a game.
“That’s just how the game changes,” Wallace said. “You’ve got to be able to adjust to it. To be able to be out there and help us get a win, that’s what I’ve got to be able to change.”
The new rule also makes the player receiving a blind-side block defined as a defenseless player, which could make it easier to have a targeting call come added to blind-side block penalty – with targeting rule now being more cut and dry in which it must be confirmed.
“I’m concerned about it, and we’re trying to coach it right now to avoid it,” Gundy said. “Maybe I’m overreacting, but I know after playing in the bowl game and having a couple players ejected, it makes me really nervous.”
That’s not to say Gundy doesn’t understand the significance of the targeting rule.
The Cowboy coach said he puts himself in the shoes of a coach of a player who is on the receiving end of a potential targeting call.
“They are trying to make the game safer, and they should make the game safer,” Gundy said. “… You’ve got to think, if that’s your kid that was just chasing the ball and trying to make a play and got drilled and de-cleated, you wouldn’t be real fired up about it.
“You still want him to play college football. So it’s probably a good rule. And we’ll learn.”
Follow News Press sports editor Jason Elmquist on Twitter @jelmquistSW for updates on Oklahoma State athletics.