The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

December 5, 2012

Rueda column: Keen gets a chance to challenge

Aaron Keen has seen just about everything in his 15 years as an assistant coach or head coach at the college level but on Saturday he’s going to experience something unique on the football field.

When Minnesota State takes on Valdosta State in its 2 p.m. NCAA Division II semifinal matchup at Blakeslee Stadium, the game will be broadcast online at ESPN3.com. That means the coaches will have an opportunity to challenge calls by the officials because replay will be available.

“I’ve never had to deal with that before,” Keen said Wednesday during a post-practice press conference. “I’m thinking about just throwing my flag on the first play of the game and getting it over with.”

Keen has not had the conference call with the officiating crew yet so he’s not sure about the specifics of how the replay process will work. One of the few things he does know is that he will have only one challenge for the entire game.

“I don’t even know if the challenge flags are red or not,” he said. “I’m assuming they are but I’m not sure.”

Another assumption Keen is making is that the officials will have their own ability to review plays with a challenge by a coach. It may just be scoring plays or it may extend beyond that.

Since the coaches are limited to one challenge, Keen will have to be very judicious about using it. The main thing he wants to do is to try to take the emotion out of the situation before throwing his flag.

“You don’t want to get caught up in the moment,” he said. “You need to try to be as objective as possible.”

Keen said here are some players he can trust to be a little less emotional than others. Last week, for example, Adam Thielen made what appeared to be a touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone that the referees said was no good.

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