Before I go on to part 3 there are a couple of loose ends I would like to clear up on goal line situations. If the ball carrier is in contact with the ground the goal lines extend beyond the sidelines. An example would be A is running near the goal line and is hit at the half yard line. While in contact with the ground he reaches out with the ball and breaks the plane of the goal line on the out of bounds side of the pylon. This would be a touchdown. If he was air borne it would not be. If he is running near the goal and side lines and decides to dive with the ball extended and it breaks the goal line plane extended, it would be ruled down at the approximate location the ball crossed the side line.
And here is one that I would be willing to bet you have never heard of before. Did you know that there was such a thing as a 1 point safety? It would only happen on a try for point and goes something like this. A lines up to go for a 2 point conversion. The A runner tries a sweep around end and fumbles the ball in the field of play. The ball is still live and can be picked up by an A player and run in for 2 points. A B player is attempting to gain possession of the ball and dives for it. He muffs the ball into his end zone. The ball is still live and A can fall on for 2 points. But a B player manages to fall on the ball in the end zone. By rule--since B supplied the force that put the ball in his end zone and the ball became dead in his possession it is ruled a safety. And since it was on a try A is awarded 1 point instead of the normal 2 points. I have spoken to many veteran officials and none of them have ever seen a 1 point safety scored during a game but it is on the books.
And now to part 3. The passing game. And I will start with the referee. As the qb retreats he will try to remain wide and deeper than the qb. And after the ball is released he will continue to observe the passer not the flight of the ball. We will usually yell "it's gone, it's gone" to charging defenders after the ball has left the qb's hand to alert them to pull up on their charge. If the qb gets hit and the referee feels the defensive player could have held up the flag will be flying. And since the referee is watching the qb rather then the flight of the ball he often needs help on intentional grounding. Intentional grounding is the referee's call. If the wing man or umpire sees that the pass was thrown into an area where there was no eligible receiver he will advise the referee after the play. It will be up to the ref if he wants to flag the qb for grounding.
The referee and the wings must be alert to a leteral or backward pass. If the pass is close to being backward but we are not 100% sure we will rule it a forward pass. Some referee's like their wings to use a fist signal toward the backfield to indicate a backward pass. Others just say that if the ball hits the ground and they don't hear a whistle they will assume the wing man has it as a lateral or backward pass.
If there is a completed pass and the action continues down the field the referee will remain behind the play so that all 22 players are in front of him. This way he can watch for any rough stuff going on out of the sight of the other 3 officials.
If the umpire reads pass his first move is toward the line of scrimmage. That way he can rule on any linemen that may be illegally downfield if the pass goes beyond the line of scrimmage. He is also in a good position to see if the qb goes beyond the line and then throws a pass. But his first read is the pass blocking. Watch for holding or illegal use of the hands. If a short pass is thrown over the middle he can help the wings rule on a catch. If the receiver has his back to the wing the umpire probably has the best view. The umpire also has to be careful to duck out of the way of low passes over the middle. I speak from experience and it hurt.
The umpire should also be alert for any pass that was tipped and give a singal tapping one hand on the other. A tipped ball changes pass eligibility and pass interference restrictions.
On pass plays the wing officials will move down field cautiously for the first 5 to 7 yards, watch the action of both the receiver he is responsible for and the defensive back. If the receiver is running a fly pattern the wing will have to move quickly down field but still not try to beat the receiver to the goal line (as if he could) because there still could be a secondary receiver moving in his area behind the play and that would also be his responsibility. In our chapter most of the qb's we deal with do not exactly have a canon for an arm so we can usually get a pretty good read on each qb's range.
If the pass falls incomplete the covering official will blow his whistle and give the incomplete pass signal. We used to have to give the time out signal also but they changed that this year thinking that the clock operator knew enough to stop it on any incomplete pass. If it is a deep incomplete pass the 2 wing officials will assist each other in getting the ball back. One will retrieve the ball and the other will come across the field. The retrieving official will toss it to the other wing man and he will get it to the umpire for spotting. It makes gatting the ball back to the line of scrimmage a lot easier and that way one official is not running his tail off.
If the ball is caught and the receiver is downed the covering official will blow the whistle and if he is sure it is beyond the line to gain he will signal the clock to be stopped. If he is not sure he will hold his spot until the referee can come up and rule on the first down. If a catch is made near a sideline the receiver only needs 1 foot to come down inbounds after he has secured possession of the ball. And in high school football there still is a force out rule. If the official rules that the receiver would have come down inbounds if he had not been contacted by a defensive player and pushed (forced) out of bounds it will be ruled a completed pass.
And now a word or two on pass interference. Pass interference restrictions only apply beyond the neutral zone and only if the legal forward pass, untouched by B in or behind the neutral zone. crosses the neutral zone. Pass interference restrictions begin for A with the snap and B when the ball leaves the passer's hand. An example would be if A went out for a pass and pushed off B before the pass left the passer's hand and then caught a pass it would be offensive pass interference. But if B grabbed A before the pass left the passer's hand and the pass was thrown incomplete it would not be defensive pass interference. It would be a penalty for illegal use of the hands or holding but not pass interference. Offensive pass interference carries a 15 yard penalty from the previous (where the ball was last snapped from) spot and a loss of down. Defensive pass interference carries a 15 yard penalty from the previous spot and an automatic first down.
It is forward pass interference if:
a. Any player of A or B who is beyond the neutral zone interferes with an eligible opponent's opportunity to move toward, catch or bat the pass.
b. Any player hinders an opponent's vision without making an attempt to catch, intercept or bat the ball, even though no contact was made. (face guarding)
It is not forward pass interference if:
a. Unavoidable contact occurs when two or more eligibles are making a simultaneous bona fide attempt to move toward, catchor bat the pass.
b. Contact by A is immediately made on a B lineman and the contact does not continue beyond the expanded neutral zone.
c. Contact by B is obviously away from the direction of the pass.
Scrimmage kicks--punts first. The referee will take a position outside the tight end and even with the kicker on the line judge's side of the field. When he is sure A has a player at least 7 yards deep behind the center he will give a signal that looks like a false start signal-rolling his fists to the umpire. This signal tells the umpire that A is in legal scrimmage kick formation and that the numbering requirement (5 lineman numbered 50-79) is off and he also must watch for roughing the center on the snap. When the umpire sees this signal he will give it back to the referee to let him know he got the signal ok.
At the snap of the ball the referee has to be alert for action around and on the kicker. If the kick is blocked he has to rule on recovery and he must watch for roughing or running into the kicker. Roughing would be 15 yards and an automatic first down and running into the kicker is 5 yards and not an automatic first down. After the kick has gone the referee will yell to players rushing the kicker that the kick has gone. He will then move down the field slowly. If a receiving team player runs it back for a touchdown or near the goal line the referee will be the covering official.
As stated above the umpire must watch for roughing the snapper. When A is in scrimmage kick formation the snapper is afforded protection from a defensive player charging directly into him while his head is down and he is in a vulnerable position. If the snapper is roughed it carries a 15 yard penalty and an automatic first down. The impire also watches all the line play and must be ready to assist the referee on a blocked or short kick. If the kick goes down field he turns and moves slowly down the field watching the blocking of the players as he goes.
The head linesman must remain on the line of scrimmage to rule that the kick did go beyond the line. A kick that does not go beyond the line may be caught, recovered and advanced by either team. As soon as he sees that the kick did go beyond the line he releases down his side line. If the kick is to his side he has the receiver and must watch for a fair catch signal. If the kick is roughly 1/3 from his side lines anywhere to the other side the judge will take the reeciver and the head linesman will watch for action around the ball carrier.
The line judge takes a positon 7-10 yards wider than and in front of the deepest receiver and in position to cover the sideline and the kick. He will remind the receiver(s) that if they wish to call for a fair catch they must give the proper signal-one hand in the air with a side to side wave. Any other signal is an invalid fair catch signal and carries a 5 yard line penalty. If the kick nears the goal line he must rule on a touchback. Line judges are encouraged to carry a bean bag in their hand before the kick. The reason is they must mark where the kick ends if a receiver catches or recovers the kick. This is an administration (basic) spot for a penalty enforcement should a post scrimmage kick foul be called on R.
If a kick should roll out of bounds the covering official should go to that spot, blow his whistle, signal time out and observe the action around him. If the kick goes out of bounds in the air, if the covering official is comfortable that he has a good spot, go there and blow the whistle, hold the spot and signal time out. If the official is not sure of the spot he should move further down the line then the ball went out of bounds and hold his hand up in the air. He then walks back toward the referee and when the referee feels he is at a spot near where the ball went out of bounds the referee will make a "chop" motion signaling the wing man to stop there and hold the spot.
A couple of points about muffed kicks or fumbles and touchbacks. A kick (refer to a play, not the striking of the ball with a players foot) ends when possession is gained or the ball is blown dead while not in player possession. This is important because any kick going into R's end zone is a touchback. If K kicks to R and R muffs (an unsuccessful attempt to gain possession of the ball) into it's own end zone and K falls on the ball it will still be a touchback, not a touchdown. A little more drastic example would be if K kicked to R and when the ball hit the ground both teams started to play soccer with the ball. R kicks it up the field and K intercepts and kicks it back down the field and this goes on for a while. Finally the ball gets near R's end zone and is kicked into the end zone. It is still a touchback because possession was never gained. Of course with this example there would be about 100 illegal kick penalties.
If a kick is muffed in the field of play either team may recover but only R may advance. If K recovers a muffed kick it will get the ball 1st and 10 at the spot of recovery. But a muff should not be confused with a fumble. A fumble can only happen after possession has been gained. If K kicks to R and R gains possession, either catches or recovers it after it hits the ground, and then fumbles it into it's end zone it is a live ball and should K fall on it it is a touchdown. If R fumbles and K recovers K can advance.
Above I made a statement that any kick that goes into R's end zone is a touchback. That is not 100% true. A successful field goal or any extra point by kick that goes into R's end zone is not a touchback. An unsuccessful field goal that goes into R's end zone is a touchback.
Scrimmage kicks for field goal and extra point: As a general rule these kicks are divided into when the snap is from the 15 yard line or inside and from beyond the 15 yard line.
15 yard line or inside. The referee will take a positon about 1 yard to the rear and 2-3 yards to the side of the potential kicker facing the holder. He will rule if the kick is good or not.
The umpire will basically make the same reads he has on any scrimmage kick. He must watch for roughing on the snapper.
The head linesman will watch the line until the ball is snapped. After the snap he is responsible for ruling on roughing the kicker or holder.
The line judge handles about the same as any goal line play except he will rule on if the ball passed above the cross bar. If it did not he will let the referee know immediately so the referee can signal kick no good. If it went above the cross bar he will make eye contact with the ref and nod. The referee will then make his call.
Outside the 15. Basically same as above but the referee will witch the kicker & holder for roughing. The head linesman has the line of scrimmage and the line judge is behind the goal and will rule if the kick is good or not. If the kick is coming up short he must get to the goal line and rule if it is a touchback.
Some referees prefer to do all place kicks the same regardless of where the ball is snapped. This is something we go over during the pre-game conference.
Penalties and enforcement: The first part of a discussion on penalties will deal with live ball player fouls. They make up the majority of fouls committed in any game. In order to enforce a penalty you have to determine what is the "basic spot". This basic spot depends on what type of play the foul took place in. There are two types of plays:
Loose ball play: A free kick or scrimmage kick. A legal forward pass. A backward pass (including the snap), illegal kick or fumble made by A from in or behind the neutral zone and prior to a change of team possession. The run(s) which precedes such legal or illegal kick, legal forward pass, backward pass or fumble is (are) considered part of the action during a loose ball play. The basic spot for a loose ball play is the previous (where the ball was last put in play) spot.
Running play: Any action not described above. The basic spot for a running play is where the run ends. If there is a run that goes beyond the neutral zone and the runner fumbles the ball, the basic spot is the spot of the fumble.
For most penalties we use what is known as the "all but one" principle. This principle says that a penalty for a foul during a play is enforced from the basic spot with the exception of a foul by the offense which occurs behind the basic spot during a loose ball play or a running play.
Some examples: A's ball on their 20. A runs the ball to the 25 where he is tackled. At the 22 an A lineman is flagged for holding. The basic spot is the 25 where the run ended. If the penalty is accepted by B, A will be penalized 10 yards from the 22. Now if the hold happened at the 30, A would be penalized from the 25, the end of the run and the basic spot for a running play.
Again A's ball on their 20. A throws an incomplete pass to a receiver at the 35. An A back is flagged for holding at the 18 yard line. This is a loose ball play so the basic spot would be the previous spot-spot of the snap.B would have the choice of declining the penalty and having the down count or A would be penalized to the 9 yard line (10 yard penalty but since it occured inside the 20 it would be half the distance to the goal). And same play but this time an A lineman moved to the 25 and held B at that location. Once again a loose ball play. The A lineman would be guilty of 2 fouls. He is illegally downfield and he held B. If B accepts the penalty he would have his choice and would certainly take the hold as it is a 10 yard compared to a 5 yard for the down field and A would be penalized 10 yards from the basic spot (the 20) to the 10 and the down would be replayed.
Short break and I'll be right back.