"2 MINUTE DRILL" TRAINING VIDEOS
Each of these plays below should take about 2 min to watch and read about the rules, mechanics and philosophy application. Taking in 2 minutes of training will help you master your craft.
Safety? Touchback? Momentum?
On this play, A5 is tackled and fumbles the ball about the B-3 or 4 yardline. B4 intercepts the fumble in flight at about the B-2 while he is running almost full speed towards his own end zone, goes into the endzone, and goes down to the ground where the ball becomes dead by rule. Without the momentum exception, this play would be a safety as B took the the ball into his own endzone and the ball became dead there.
The momentum exception applies when possession is gained of an OPPONENT's fumble or backward pass, interception of a foward pass or a scrimmage kick between between the 5 yard line and the goal line, his original momentum carries him into his own end zone, the ball remains in the end zone and becomes dead there in his team's possession.
On this play, all the requirements of the momentum exception are met. The basic spot on this play is where possession is gained, here at the B-2. The ball is awarded to team B at the B-2. This is not a touchback nor a safety.
This play started near midfield and the great hustle by the LJ to be close enough to make a ruling on it is itself worthy of praise.
Hustle notwithstanding, the Line Judge ruled on this play perfectly, and dropped his bean bag almost immediately, which is proper mechanics. The fact that he dropped it at the B-1 not the B-2 is irrelevant. He spotted the ball correctly at the 2, and the fact that he had the presence of mind to drop the bean bag at all shows superior processing of this play.
These plays happen so infrequently that it is easy to forget the rule and mechanics of how to officiate the play. A+ officiating by our Line Judge.
Superb mechanics at the pylon
Let's break down the mechanics. First it's a 2 point try. The only important line is the goal line. Get there immediately at the snap as both wings do here. The runner is close to scoring and appears to go airborne at about the 2 and stretch out for the end zone. Does he get "goal line extended"? Rule 2-26-3 says only when a runner is touching inbounds does the goal line extend beyond the sidelines. If the runner is airborne, to score the trajectory of the ball must go INSIDE the pylon, otherwise the dead ball spot is where the foremost point of the ball crossed the plane of the sideline, as the runner lands out of bounds.
This is a lot to see, and process in a split second for the wing official. He is on an "island" as it is his call 100% and he will get no help from any of his crew. To see all these aspects of the play, get wide. Here our wing backs straight up off the pylon staying on the GL plane. Wide perspective allows him to see everything he needs to see: is the runner touching in bounds or airborne? Where is the ball? Which hand is it in (makes a big difference on this play)? Does it go inside the pylon or not if he's airborne? Does it cross the GL?
Excellent mechanics are on display here. The ruling could be easily contested if the official is hugging the pylon or not on the goal line. In this case, any reviewer must go with the official's judgement on the field, and it does indeed appear to be short.
NOTE: this is why we move those "G" yard line markers well back during pre game field inspection!
For a superb 19 minute video on pylon plays, check out Matt Sumstine's YouTube channel and search for pylon training.
PSK fouls - Are you the Bag Man?
The H has a flag down for a hold on R, DURING the kick, which is one element of it being a PSK foul. Note that these types of fouls on "gunners" that occur soon after the snap almost always occur during the kick or loose ball portion of the play. The "kick" includes the snap and all action until the kick is possessed or otherwise becomes dead (10-3-1a, NOTE). On this play the kick is caught at the R-40 and returned to the K-44. The H properly reported the foul as a PSK foul to the referee. The second clip shows the enforcement of this foul as improper, enforced from the end of the run. What happened?? The Back Judge FAILED to mark the end of the kick with his bean bag. The crew had no idea where the end of the kick was because it was not marked and the BJ couldn't remember. They decided to make the best of it and enforce the foul from the end of the run. Team R lost 16 yards of field position as a result of this mechanics error, and this error rests solely on the Back Judge.
Whenever a punt is returned by the receiving team, the BJ (or LJ in 4 man) MUST mark the end of the kick with his bean bag, EVERY TIME. It is true that PSK fouls don't occur very often, probably less than 5% of the time, and most times if you are the BJ you will simply have to run back upfield and retrieve your bean bag. Oh well, that's why they pay you the big bucks. Consistency will make you a better back judge, a better official, and elevate your crew competence. Be the Bag Man!
May the Force Be With You! YOU MAKE THE CALL
for an in depth breakdown of this controversial play, copy and paste this link:
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A 25 yard foul?
The LJ instead of marking the spot, keeping his head up and watching further DB action, for some reason goes past the spot to pick up his flag and (presumed, not seen on video) move it forward to the spot of the foul. This is improper.
There is NEVER a reason to move a flag on the defense, the enforcement spot will ALWAYS be the basic spot. The only exception would be after a turnover and they have possession (such as an interception return, where they are now the offense). There also is NEVER a reason to move a dead ball flag as these are ALWAYS enforced from the succeeding spot (and why dead ball flags are thrown high into the air). The proper dead ball spot as noted is the A-45. 15 yard dead ball foul would move it to the B-40. In the next clip the ball is spotted at the B-30. We will not discuss the UNS foul called just after this as it is unknown what precipitated that call, and moved the ball to the B-15. Good judgement on the call, but poor mechanics gave team A 10 free yards.
Covered TE leads to illegal touching TD that's missed.
Once 82 goes downfield there is a potential foul--ineligible downfield (IDP). The potential is realized once the pass crosses the line of scrimmage. This is when the flag should be thrown. The LJ should continue observing this player and disregard his other keys until he knows the intended target of the pass. If it is A82, and A82 touches, muffs, or catches the pass, the foul is now upgraded to illegal touching. (It is an upgrade because illegal touching includes a loss of down). If the pass goes somewhere else it remains an IDP foul.
When the LJ counts only 3 backs in formation, he should notice the TE on his side. If A4 is even half a step back we want him ruled "back" and make 82 eligible, then talk to A4 after the play. On this play we cannot do that however, as A4 hasn't allowed the official to use "philosophy". Even though the TE is the Back Judge's key, from 20 yards deep the BJ cannot know if 82 is eligible or not. The LJ thus MUST switch keys presnap to TE 82 in this formation.
We unfortunately miss this foul, but understanding this will make us better officials.
Note also there is a holding foul on A72 left tackle (jerk and restrict).
Targeting - flagrant
These plays are tough. This foul happens in the blink of an eye and officials on the field only get one look at it. When a runner is stood up like this not moving, and an opponent is running toward the pile faster than everyone else, your radar antennae should be on and locked in. This is a violent foul designed to punish the opponent and officials must be diligent to get these hits out of the game.
Unfortunately this crew missed this hit. On kickoffs and punts especially, 22 players are spread all over the field. They are among the hardest plays to officiate well. Keep wide eyes and you'll be more likely to see this foul developing. On plays like this, we don't care about where the forward progress spot is as long as we are within a yard or so. We are going to put it on a tick mark anyway. It's better to miss the spot by 3 yards and get this foul than miss the foul and get the spot right.
CHOP BLOCK (CHB) #1
4 official mechanics are tough. With no back judge deep, the wing officials have downfield responsibility. Trust your crewmates to do their job, so you can do yours. Notice that the U's initial set up is 11 yards off the ball, much too deep. Ideal set up is 6-8 yards deep between the guards and in position to see the snap.
Mechanics manuals are written to give the crew the best coverage with the personnel they have. When we abandon our mechanics, it sets us up for failure.
CHOP BLOCK #2
So who should be getting this foul? The left tackle is both the R's and the L's key. The L's receiver isn't pressed and this is a running play so there's no reason for him to look there. He should remain focused on his tackle. Even though it is more difficult for him to spot the inside high block by the center, this is a pretty obvious chop. The Referee should also be looking at this tackle and the chop so immediate after the snap that his eyes shouldn't have gone from here yet. Stay disciplined with your eyes.
Illegal Use of Hands (IUH)/Defensive Holding
This Crew has mastered the basics of dead ball clock management
No matter your level of experience, these simple easy plays must be mastered. Dead ball officiating and clock management is a rudimentary mechanic, but one that some veteran officials get lax on, and one that newer officials need to strive for consistency in.
This game was one of the 2 Geico Bowl Championship games held in Las Vegas in December 2022. This game is between Graham-Kapowsin (WA) and Collins Hill (GA). The officiating crew is a mixed crew of Las Vegas and Reno area officials. The Washington state champs won 40-36 on a last second TD pass. The lead changed hands 6x in the second half.
Dead Ball foul responsibility
The deep wing official should be all over this foul. As a deep, on a running play like this, dead ball officiating and separating colors after the play is your primary duty. In a 5 person crew, the Back Judge, Umpire, and even the Referee have a shot at getting this. In 4 official mechanics, the U and the R. To be a superior official, you must be a superior dead ball official! This is an excellent crew who called an excellent game overall, but even the best of us will miss things. Keep your eyes up with a wide view and you will see these fouls.
Is the foul on offense or defense?
Please note that under our philosophy of preventive officiating, this foul should not be called unless it actually causes a false start by A. If it has no effect, simply warn the players and coach, unless repeated warnings are ignored.
These fouls are most common on FGs and kick trys, and on 3rd or 4th and short when the defense is trying to get a cheap 5 yards of field position.
Swinging Gate - illegal snap and illegal shift not called
This being a 'trick' play, Our philosophy is that it must be run precisely to the rules. We grant no leeway on these and the crew must be paying attention. The offense is trying to catch the defense off guard and unprepared and unfortunately they often catch the officiating crew unprepared as well.
This snap is illegal. Notice the snapper lift the ball up and scoop it to the back. This up and over type movement is not continuously backward. A snap must be a "quick, continuous backward motion" according to Rule 2-40-2. It is possible to snap it directly to the RB behind the gate from this position, but it must be done according to the rule. There is no requirement that the snap go between the snapper's legs. Also per Rule 7-1-3c the snapper cannot "fail to clearly pause before the snap" (emphasis added), which he does not do here. Either of these snap violations is a dead ball snap infraction foul.
Also the lineman to the left of the snapper is moving as the snapper goes down to the ball. This is an illegal shift and should've been called by one of the two wings. A false start in lieu of an illegal shift would also have been a proper call here. Bottom line is team A did not run this play with precision and according to rule and a foul should've been called.
This is NOT a foul in 2022 for Intentional Grounding.
This passer is clearly under duress. He is also outside the pocket. These first two elements must be determined by the R. The pass clearly makes it to the LOS. This is ruled on by the wing official (most of the time, it can be the Umpire as well in certain circumstances). The wing official should point to the LOS to communicate that fact to the R. (He should also point to any eligible receiver he judges to be in the area which would negate any potential foul).
There is no eligible receiver anywhere in the area of the pass.
All elements of the exception have been met and this would be no foul in 2022, simply an incomplete pass.
(The R did not drop a flag on this play in 2021, because the wing official did not report to him there was no eligible in the area.)
Still a foul for Intentional Grounding in 2022
So if the R rules him outside of the pocket, the first element of the exception is met. However the pass in this case clearly does not make the LOS. The second element of the exception is NOT met, and this is a foul for intentional grounding. The R should drop his flag at the spot of the pass.
This is one case where the R would not need info from the Wing Official as everything is within his field of vision, no eligible in the area, and pass short of the LOS. A foul in 2021 and 2022. (The R did drop a flag on this play)
Still in pocket, no eligible in area, but NOT a foul for intentional grounding.
The passer's skill level, as well as whether his throwing motion was altered by defensive contact, should also be a factor considered by the Referee when evaluating a potential foul for intentional grounding.
In this case it would be proper mechanics for either the Back Judge or one of the Wings to immediately report to the R there was no eligible receiver in the area. The Referee will be watching the passer for several seconds after the ball is thrown, and most of the time should have no idea what happened downfield. This is why intentional grounding is a two-official mechanic. Conversely, the second official should have no idea whether the passer was under duress or not. The second official should never throw his flag for intentional grounding; that is solely the Referee's responsibility. The second official merely supplies information needed to make the decision.
Umpire starts from poor position, ends up dodging bullets
Being set up this wide the U is in a running lane. Staying inside over the snapper will require less movement and less chance of getting hit. Also on this play the U forgets to spit his whistle at the snap. Have the whistle in your mouth to quickly kill the play for dead ball fouls then spit it. Use your voice, not the whistle to control players and establish your presence to the pile after the play. Do not move forward during a running play. Stay still and officiate, and move only if absolutely necessary. Here the U moves directly into the play and is in the line of fire and turns his back to escape danger. At this point he's in survival mode and not officiating. Umpires quite possibly have the toughest job on the field, but it also can be the most rewarding. Proper presnap positioning and discipline likely would have prevented the U from running for his life.
The H on this play does a good job holding his position and letting the play flow in front of him, even though he is tempted to move. The video is a bit grainy to be certain, but it appears a horse collar foul was missed on the tackle as it appears the defender's right arm/hand grabs the shoulder pad/nameplate area and pulls the runner down from behind. This foul can cause serious injury to the runner and they need to be called every time. Getting a precisely accurate spot is of little consequence. See all the action on the play.
The Side Judge does a good job maintaining his space cushion when the play breaks, however try to do this from a backpedal for as long as possible before turning and running. Once he sees the play go out of bounds and the H killing the clock, he should be killing the clock as well.
2-3 coaches are in violation of being in the Restriced Area upfield.
12 men: Crew gets it right, but gets it wrong. Followed by a low block on return
Many issues occur on this set of 3 plays. We always try to get our counts done before the ball is snapped. Here you see the umpire doing that but he doesn't finish in time. Had he done so, a dead ball flag for illegal substitution (5 yards) is appropriate. But sometimes this happens. It is the TEAM'S RESPONSIBILITY to play with 11, not the crew's. The crew did the right thing here and the U suspected there was 12 and they confirmed it as soon as play was over. The R dropped a late flag for illegal participation. This is proper. However, this is a live ball foul at the snap on the previous play. Notice the box person changed the down box from 2 to 3 at the very end of the first clip. This happens with parent volunteers sometimes. It is the CREW'S responsibility to count downs and ensure the proper down is displayed on the box. Nobody on the crew caught this. It is primarily on the wing officials, but it is a crew error. This is a worse error than the dreaded inadvertent whistle. On play 3 in the sequence it is 3rd down when the proper down is 2nd. Doesn't affect the game thankfully (and this was a close game) as this play results in an interception. Excellent call by the LJ who is not ball watching and gets the block below the waist on the return, he also finishes officiating the play. Good mechanics by the LJ as the runner is in space and doesn't need attention, so attention is focused properly in front of the runner and the foul is observed.
If you as a crew member suspect the down is in error, immediately blow your whistle and kill the clock and call for a conference. It's better to stop the game and make sure we get this right than allow this error to happen.
Perfect mechanics and judgement displayed by HL on this catch play TD
After getting in position to watch the action, notice his concentration, and his patience, in waiting for all elements of the catch to be complete before making a ruling. The receiver catches the ball while airborne, and his first foot touches barely inbounds then second foot out of bounds. The HL's positioning and spacing allows him enough distance to see both of these elements--distance is often our friend in officiating. Next, the player falls to the ground, and MAINTAINS CONTROL of the ball, "surviving the ground". Our HL waits for this process to finish, then gives a confident, strong TD signal. A good rule of thumb when ruling on catch plays like this where the receiver goes to the ground is if he can hand you the ball when it's over, it's a catch, if he can't, it's incomplete.
The minor contact between the receiver and defender is incidental contact, there is no advantage gained, both are playing the ball, and is properly ruled to be no foul.
A perfectly officiated play is a joy to watch, and this is an example to follow.
Kick Catch Interference foul, of a different kind
This is the one interference foul that does NOT require contact, unlike pass interference which does. Kicking rules (rule 6) are tough, and we must be the master of them. The fact that the "touching" was unintentional doesn't matter, the fact that the receiver was in position to catch the kick does. Had the foul been called, R's choices are -15 from previous spot and rekick, take the result of the play, or 15 yards from the spot of the foul and an awarded fair catch (the most likely choice) 6-5-6 PEN, 10-5-1-b. Also note another foul was missed here. The assistant coach in the brown coat with the clipboard is well into the Restricted Area while the ball is live (Rule 9-8-3). A sideline warning flag should have been thrown on this play by the LJ. Wing officials should not be on the field of play during the down. A further note, the Back Judge was way too far away, and should have closed distance toward the play while the ball was in flight.
LJ properly marks unusual first touching by K violation with bean bag
Also note on the above play how the LJ continues to officiate to the end of the play. All officials on the crew properly stop the clock after the ball is dead. "First touching" is not a foul, but instead a violation (which is why a bean bag is used and not a penalty flag). It is covered in Rule 6-1-7 (for free kicks) and 6-2-5 (for scrimmage kicks, as is this play). Even though the ball is in flight and touches a K player beyond the neutral zone. it is NOT a kick catching interference foul because no R player is in position to catch the ball (Rule 6-5-6 EXC). The crew properly spotted the ball at the K-49 for the next snap as that was most advantageous to team R. Note that by rule, if there is an accepted foul on the play, or if R possesses the kick and thereafter commits a foul, the right of taking the ball at the spot of First Touching is wiped out. Know your kicking Rules! Rule 6 is among the toughest to master.
Legal "pick", Proper no call for OPI by BJ and LJ, coach protesting the no call
While coaches will always lobby for calls, they are not allowed to charge onto the field to do so in an unsportsmanlike manner. This is covered under Rule 9-8-1-b,d,i. This action was not seen by the crew as the LJ was downfield and the Referee in the end zone view was dealing with a potential "hot spot" at the line of scrimmage after the play. The Referee properly directed his attention to the hotspot. Had the actions by the coach been seen however, a flag should have been thrown. If the coach asks in a professional manner why a flag wasn't thrown on the play, an explanation should be given when time allows by the covering official.
Cheez It Bowl Roughing the Passer with Change of Possession (COP)
Note to above play
The Line Judge in this game is Dale Keller, who got his start right here in the NNFOA. Notice his positioning after the interception as he stays ahead of the play during the return. This is known as "reverse fade" mechanics (employed after a change of possession play), which is used in 7 and 8 official college mechanics (as well as 7 official mechanics in high school). Dale is in the NFL Development Program, so hopefully you will be seeing his skills on Sunday afternoons soon.
The Referee is Chris Coyte, who makes a superb announcement and explanation of the play. This crew officiated this unusual play perfectly, and the foul was efficiently administered, an example of a superb crew working together as a unit. Chris was our guest speaker at the NNFOA Preseason Clinic in 2018.
Crew mistakenly gives team A a new series after 4th down dead ball foul by B
Fundamental rules knowledge is the responsibility of every official, and so is proper penalty enforcement. Don't leave penalty enforcement to the referee and umpire. Save your crew if you see a mistake being made. Fortunately this large crew error had no impact on the outcome of the game. (I also don't think the dead ball contact in this case warranted a flag, but that's not the point of this play).
Scrimmage kick formation shift--is A25 now eligible??
Note to above play: This play occurred in 2021.
Regarding the new Intentional Grounding rule change for 2022, Rule 7-5-2 EXC 2: This would not be a foul for intentional grounding because A1 was outside the pocket (defined as the lateral side of the free blocking zone).
However, assuming this took place under the new rule, since A1 is outside the pocket, and thus now making the pass itself legal, if ineligible A25 touches the ball (it appears he does on this play), then it is a foul for illegal touching by A25. It is also a foul for ineligible downfield on A25. (You cannot have either foul on an illegal forward pass, but now that the pass would be legal, those fouls come into play). Since it was a 4th down play and illegal touching carries a 5 yard penalty AND loss of down, team B would accept that foul as they would be awarded a new series after the LOD aspect is enforced. If only the ineligible downfield foul was called, Team B would decline the foul since the pass was incomplete on 4th down and the ball is turned over on downs.
Anatomy of a holding foul (OH)
Incorrect call for Ineligible receiver downfield (IDP)
Flagrant fouls (2 plays) TGT and UNR
Note to above play:
These two plays are not sequential in the game (when clips are downloaded from Hudl they do not show the play #s). The first flag on play 1 was for a hold on the return at the A-42. This player was double teamed and there was little restriction, this is not a hold. The other two flags were for an apparent block in the back foul by the return team. There doesn't appear to be a block in the back foul either. The targeting foul was missed. On play 2, the umpire properly flagged the UNR foul on B-56, but the player was not DQ'd.