In a move to further protect players from dangerous hits, the SEC has defined a "strike zone" from below the neck to above the knees in which an unabated defender may attempt to tackle an "offensive player in a passing posture."

"This is a player safety issue," said Steve Shaw, the SEC's coordinator of officials.

Shaw, who spoke at SEC media days Wednesday, said the rule to protect quarterbacks from being hit below the knees will be enforced regardless of whether the hit occurs inside or outside the pocket. A penalty will not be called, however, if a defender is blocked into the quarterback.

"When a player is under his own power, he's directing his hit and he chooses to go low, that is going to be a foul," Shaw said.

"This rule change, I think, will create the player behavior change."

Shaw also touched on last season's controversial targeting penalty in his address, calling it "the biggest change of my officiating career."

Last season, the NCAA changed the penalty for targeting defenseless players with hits to the head by adding an ejection to the 15-yard penalty.