ARTICLE 4.Violation of each of the following (a-c) is a live-ball foul; the play is allowed to continue.
a. Formation. At the snap Team A must be in a formation that meets these requirements:
1. All players must be inbounds.
2. All players must be either linemen or backs (Rule 2-27-4).
Approved Ruling 7-1-4 VIII. Team A lines up with A11 ten yards directly behind the snapper. The other three backs are split wide, all outside the tackle box. Only four Team A linemen have uniform numbers between 50 and 79. A11 receives the backward pass from the snapper with Team A in this formation. RULING: Live-ball foul. Illegal formation, not enough players numbered 50-79 on the line of scrimmage. Team A is not is a scrimmage kick formation, because in this alignment it is not obvious that a kick will be attempted. (Rule 2-16-10)
3. At least five linemen must wear jerseys numbered 50 through 79 (Exception:When the snap is from a scrimmage kick formation, par. 5 below.)
4. No more than four players may be backs.
5. In a scrimmage kick formation at the snap (Rule 2-16-10) Team A may have fewer than five linemen numbered 50-79, subject to the following conditions:
(a) Any and all linemen not numbered 50-79 who are ineligible receiver(s) by position become exceptions to the numbering rule when the snapper is established.
(b) Any and all such numbering-exception players must be on the line and may not be on the end of the line. Otherwise, Team A commits a foul for an illegal formation.
(c) Any and all such players are exceptions to the numbering rule throughout the down and remain ineligible receivers unless they become eligible under Rule 7-3-5 (forward pass touched by an official or a Team B player).
The conditions in 5(a)–5(c) are no longer in effect if prior to the snap a period ends or there is a timeout charged to the referee or one of the teams.
b. Man in Motion.
1. One back may be in motion, but that back may not be moving toward their opponent’s goal line.
2. The player who goes in motion may not start from the line of scrimmage unless they first become a back and come to a complete stop.
3. A player in motion at the snap must have satisfied the one-second rule—i.e., that player may not start their motion before any shift has ended (Rule 2-22-1c).
c. Illegal Shift. At the snap, Team A may not execute an illegal shift (Rule 7-1-2a).
Approved Ruling 7-1-3 I. A21 is legally on the end of the line of scrimmage next to A88, who is in a three-point stance. Team A stops for one second while A21 and A88 are in the above positions, and then A21 moves to a legal backfield position and stops. Then A88 moves to a wider position on the line. RULING: Legal if both A21 and A88 are stationary at the snap (Rules 2-22-1 and 7-1-4).
Approved Ruling 7-1-3 II. A21 is legally on the end of the line of scrimmage next to A88, who is in the stance of a restricted lineman. Team A has stopped for one second when A21 leaves the line of scrimmage and goes in motion into the backfield. A88 moves to a wider position on the line. RULING: A88 may break his three-point stance since he is now on the end of the line of scrimmage, but Team A must stop again for one second before the snap to make the play legal (Rule 7-1-4).
PENALTY [a-c]—Live-ball foul: Five yards from the previous spot [S19 or S20]. For live-ball fouls occurring when or after the snap starts during scrimmage kick plays other than field goal plays: Five yards from the previous spot or if the kick crosses the neutral zone, five yards from the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B [S19 or S20].
Approved Ruling 7-1-4 I. A30, lined up legally as a back, starts in motion legally. He then turns so that he still is legally in motion but is facing his line of scrimmage using a “side-step” motion. At the snap, A30 is bent slightly forward at the waist and is either continuing his “side-step” motion or is “marking time” in place. RULING: Legal.
Approved Ruling 7-1-4 II. A30, lined up legally as a back, starts in motion legally. He then turns so that he still is legally in motion but is facing his line of scrimmage using a “side-step” motion. At the snap, A30, still behind the neutral zone, is moving slightly forward from the waist up or his “side-step” motion has veered slightly toward the line of scrimmage. RULING: Live-ball foul at the snap for illegal motion. Penalty—Five yards from the previous spot.
Approved Ruling 7-1-4 III. Team A’s formation at the snap includes only 10 players: five players on the line of scrimmage numbered 50-79, one player on the line wearing number 82, and four players in the backfield. RULING: The formation is legal because Team A has no more than four players in the backfield and the required number of players (five) on the line wearing 50-79.
Approved Ruling 7-1-4 IV. Team A, with fourth and eight, sends two substitutes numbered 21 and 33 into the game as exceptions to the mandatory numbering, and they are positioned legally on their line of scrimmage between the end players on the line of scrimmage. After the ball is snapped, a Team A player, 15 yards deep in a scrimmage kick formation, throws a legal forward pass to an eligible receiver for a 10-yard gain. RULING: Legal play (Note: The same play from a field goal formation is legal).
Approved Ruling 7-1-4 V. A33, an exception to the mandatory numbering rule, assumes a position on the line of scrimmage next to end A88. Before the snap, A88 moves to a backfield position and the flanker on the opposite side of the line moves to an end position on the line. RULING: Illegal formation. Since A33 is now an end, he is thus in an illegal position at the snap (live-ball foul). Penalty—five yards, previous spot.
Approved Ruling 7-1-4 VI. A33, an exception to the mandatory numbering rule, assumes a position on the line of scrimmage to the left of snapper A85, who is on the end of the line. All other Team A players on the line are to A33’s left. After a one second stop, all players on the line except A85 legally shift to the other side of the ball, with A33 now positioned as an end. RULING: If the ball is snapped with A33 in this position, it is a foul for an illegal formation. A33 may not legally be on the end of the line at the snap. Penalty—five yards, previous spot.
Approved Ruling 7-1-4 VII. At the B-45, Team A is in an alignment in which the snapper A88 is on the right end of the line. The linemen on his left are numbered 56, 63, 72, 22, 79, and 25. There are four players in the backfield. A44 is ten yards directly behind the snapper, and the other backs are to his left a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. No player is in position to hold for a place kick. After the snap, A44 completes a pass to snapper A88 for a touchdown. This happens on (a) first or second down; (b) third or fourth down. RULING: Because there are only four offensive linemen numbered in the 50-79 range, the legality of the play depends on whether Team A is in a scrimmage kick formation. One of the requirements for such a formation is that “it is obvious that a kick will be attempted.” (a) Illegal formation: on first or second down, a team is very unlikely to punt, so it is not obvious that a kick will be attempted. (b) Legal play: touchdown. On third or fourth down a team may be likely to kick. (Rule 2-16-10)
Approved Ruling 7-1-4 IX. Team A lines up with six players on the line of scrimmage, five of whom are numbered in the range 50-79. A seventh player, A88, is in the normal location of an end, but he is positioned so that his feet and shoulders are clearly at a 45-degree angle with the line of scrimmage. The other four players are clearly in the backfield. The ball is snapped with Team A in this alignment. RULING: Live-ball foul, illegal formation. Every Team A player must be either a lineman or a back; A88 is neither.