Legal Equipment – I covered illegal equipment last week but neglected something we are seeing a lot. Shirts worn under the jersey must comply with the same restrictions as the jersey. The following is from the NFHS Case Book which carries the same weight as the Rule Book:
Team A’s players are wearing jerseys:
(a) just covering the shoulder pads, and their midriffs are exposed; or
(b) that extend below the top of their pants, but some players have them tucked in, while others have them outside their pants; or
(c) that are waist length, but have tucked them up under the bottom of their shoulder pads; or
(d) with an undershirt that extends below the top of the waistline of the pants and is not tucked in.
RULING: The jerseys in (a) and (c) are not legal. An official’s time-out is declared, and the player must be replaced for at least one down unless the halftime intermission or an overtime intermission occurs. This incident should be reported to the proper administrative authorities at the visiting team’s school and the state association office. In (b) and (d), the jerseys (and undershirts) of all players will have to be tucked inside the pants upon discovery and tucking the jerseys may not delay the ready-for-play signal. If repair cannot be made without delaying the ready-for-play signal, an official’s time-out is declared, and the player must be replaced for at least one down unless the halftime intermission or an overtime intermission occurs. COMMENT: Any time the play clock is interrupted for improperly worn or missing equipment by a player, the player is to be removed from the contest for at least one play. [1-5- 1b(1), 1-5-5, 1-5-6, 3-5-2b, 3-5-10e] 3.5.10
I also made a mistake in last week’s summary of illegal equipment. Hoodies worn under the jersey are not covered by the rule book and are therefore legal. If a player is taken down by the hood, even if it’s backward or to the side, IT IS NOT A FOUL. I’ve verified this with the CIF Rules Interpreter.
The restricted area – I know some coaches think that we are being nitpicky when it comes to enforcing the restricted area. As a head linesman, I can tell you that trying to monitor whether coaches (it’s always coaches, very rarely players) are in the restricted area or not, distracts me from my game duties and gets me out of my officiating rhythm. Try to work with the coaches but if they are not abiding by the rule then throw your flag, the first one is just a warning. Rule 9-8-3 states “A nonplayer shall not be outside his team box unless to become a player or to return as a replaced player. A maximum of three coaches may be in the restricted area. No player, nonplayer or coach shall be in the restricted area when the ball is live.”
That restriction does not just apply to the restricted area that is upfield of the ball. It is the entire restricted area from the 25 to the 25. If there is a turnover, downfield suddenly becomes upfield. Another time that violations of the restricted area become a real issue is when we have a long run or an interception and the players and coaches become excited and start following the play downfield, blocking the view of the flank official.
Coaches, PLEASE help us out here. We don’t want to penalize you for where you are standing, but we have to have this area clear before the snap and we cannot abide players and coaches in the restricted area on a long play. The best practice I have seen is to have the players lined up 3-4yds off the sideline allowing the coaches their own area.
Use of game film to determine down or previous spot – By rule, officials are not allowed to review game film on the sidelines regarding penalties, non-calls or judgment. However, if a situation arises where a previous spot needs to be determined (i.e. the chains and down box have moved and we suddenly realize there was a flag on the field) or if the number of the current down is uncertain, it is acceptable to use sideline devices (tablets, iPads, etc.) to make that type of determination. In the absence of that type of technology, spotter’s reports can be used but the spotters from both teams should be consulted and they should agree for the officiating crew to use their information to make a determination.
The Use of the Whistle – It is our local, state and national mechanic to not blow our whistles unless we see the ball in possession, and progress stopped or the player down by rule. We do not want inadvertent whistles! But if you do have one…
Inadvertent Whistles –
1. If during legal forward pass, snap is in flight, or during a legal kick – replay the down.
2. If the ball is in player possession, that team has the choice of possession at the dead ball spot or replay the down.
3. Same two options for the team last in possession if following a backward pass, fumble or illegal forward pass or illegal kick.
4. Accepted penalties take precedence over an IW
What is your pre-snap routine? It’s different for each position…have you developed your own? Have you borrowed one from someone else?
Pre-Snap begins with the previous dead ball period. Be a great dead ball official!
Don’t be in a hurry to chase the ball. Make sure you’ve completed your dead ball officiating.
Know your ball mechanics for returning the ball or obtaining a new ball when you’re ready.
Know the status of the clock. The crew must check the clock during each dead ball period and know how to correct any timing errors…especially at the end of half and game!
Know & think (down &distance)
Move to proper position for snap (based upon formation?)
Count offense or defense (Once? Twice?)
Recognize formations and strengths of formations
Identify your key(s) – number(s) – location in formation
Know team tendencies
Identify where the best players are in the formation
Look for mismatches
You are ready for the snap!!
Communication Within the Crew – We must be loud and vocal in our communication. Each individual on the crew can do enormous good for the crew as a whole by participating vocally on every play…down, distance, my goal line, your goal line, the status of the ball relative to the 5-yard mark on the chains, double stakes, wind, no wind, the clock is hot, when to hack relative to the final 25 seconds of the half or game, …the list goes on and on. Keep yourself and the crew alert on each and every play by communicating loudly and consistently.
Coaches, PLEASE help us out here. We don’t want to penalize you for where you are standing, but we must have this area clear before the snap and we cannot abide players and coaches in the restricted area on a long play.
Kick Catch Interference – While K14’s punt is in flight beyond the neutral zone, R23 gives a valid fair catch signal or does not give a signal. The ball strikes R23’s shoulder pad and bounces high into the air. While the loose ball is still airborne, K87 pushes R23 in the chest and K87 catches it at that spot. Ruling: In both cases, the ball is dead when K87 catches it as K may not advance. There is no foul for kick-catching interference since R23’s protection ended when the kick was touched. K’s ball 1st and 10 at the spot where K87 caught the muffed kick.
Expanded Neutral Zone – Can it be expanded up to 2 yards into the end zone? Answer: NO, the neutral zone may be expanded up to a maximum of 2 yards behind the defensive line of scrimmage, in the field of play. No ineligibles running around in the endzone, please!
Apologies – Randomly, someone mentioned in a text message that they just left me a voicemail. I dialed my voicemail and was floored to hear I had 30 unheard messages. Somehow back in early August, my voicemail notifications were switched off and I didn’t realize it. If you called me and left a voicemail and I did not get back to you, I apologize. The issue has been fixed.
OCFOA Plays of the Week – All 2019 OCFOA Plays of the Week can be found on YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL11LmkFIXr3yCivyq-LXs19kEMGrfhodp
OCFOA Instructional Chairman