Pitt QB Kenny Pickett scored a touchdown to open the ACC Championship Game against Wake Forest on Saturday night, and he scored using a move that should be illegal.
Pitt had a third-and-5 at its 42 just a few minutes into the game when Pickett felt some pressure and took off running. He saw some defenders converging on him as he approached the Wake Forest 40 and began to go into a slide motion. He started to slow down and tuck his right leg like he was giving himself up to slide.
Once the defense stopped pursuing, Pickett decided to keep running and scored.
That 58-yard touchdown helped give Pitt a 7-0 lead. The Panthers won 45-21.
That touchdown should never have counted. As soon as a player begins to give himself up, the play should be dead. Both college and pro football are trying to protect quarterbacks by penalizing defenders who hit them when they’re giving themselves up. If you are penalizing the defenders and ejecting them from games to discourage them from hitting a quarterback who is giving himself up, you can’t also incentivize quarterbacks to fake the slides.
Think about it this way: as soon as a punt returner signals a fair catch, he can’t advance the ball. As soon as a quarterback begins to slide, the play should be blown dead, just the same as a fair catch. Otherwise, you are completely putting a defender in the unfair position of choosing between risking a penalty or risking a touchdown.