ARTICLE 5. The defensive team requirements are as follows:
a. Each of the following (1-5) is a dead ball foul. Officials should blow the whistle and not allow the play to continue. After the ball is ready for play and before the ball is snapped:
1. No player may touch the ball except when moved illegally as in Rule 7-1-3a-1, nor may any player contact an opponent or in any other way interfere with him.
Approved Ruling 7-1-5 I. Snapper A1 lifts the ball before passing it backward, B2 bats the ball away, and B3 recovers the ball. RULING: Team A dead-ball foul, illegal snap. The ball remains dead because it was not put in play by a legal snap. Penalty—Five yards from the succeeding spot. Team A retains possession.
Approved Ruling 7-1-5 II. Snapper A1 legally begins the snap, but B2 bats the ball before A1 completes the snap, and B3 recovers the ball. RULING: Team B foul and the ball remains dead. Penalty—Five yards from the succeeding spot. Team B may not touch the ball until it has been snapped. Team A retains possession.
2. No player may enter the neutral zone causing an offensive lineman to react immediately or commit any other dead-ball offside foul (Rules 2-18-2 and 7-1-2b-3 Exception).
Approved Ruling 7-1-3 V. A66, a restricted lineman between the snapper and the player on the end of the line, or A72, a restricted player on the end of the line of scrimmage:
1. Lifts a hand or hands from the ground immediately when threatened by B1, who is in the neutral zone. RULING: Blow the whistle immediately. Team B dead-ball foul, offside. Penalty—Five yards from the succeeding spot.
2. Lifts a hand or hands from the ground upon initial charge by B1, who (a) does not enter the neutral zone or (b) enters the neutral zone but does not threaten the position of A66 or A72. RULING: In both (a) and (b), blow the whistle immediately. Team A dead ball foul, false start. Penalty—Five yards from the succeeding spot.
Note: Before the snap, a Team B player who enters the neutral zone may threaten a maximum of three Team A linemen. If the Team B player enters the neutral zone directly toward a Team A lineman, then that Team A player and the two adjacent linemen are considered to be threatened. If the Team B player enters the neutral zone toward a gap between two Team A linemen, then only those two Team A players are considered to be threatened.
Approved Ruling 7-1-5 III. Before the snap, a Team B player crosses the neutral zone and, without making contact, continues his charge behind a Team A lineman and directly toward the quarterback or kicker. RULING: A Team B player who is on Team A’s side of the neutral zone and is moving in a direct path toward the quarterback or kicker while he is behind an offensive lineman is considered to be interfering with Team A’s formation. Penalty—Team B dead-ball foul, offside. Five yards from the succeeding spot.
3. No player may cross the neutral zone and without making contact continue their charge toward any back.
PENALTY [1-3]—Dead-ball foul, offside. Five yards from the succeeding spot [S18].
4. Player(s) aligned in a stationary position within one yard of the line of scrimmage may not make quick, abrupt or exaggerated actions that are not part of normal defensive player movement.
Approved Ruling 7-1-5 IV. Linebacker B56 is stationary within one yard beyond the neutral zone. As the offense is calling its snap signals, B56 feints toward the line in an obvious attempt to induce a false start by the offense. RULING: Dead-ball foul, delay of game. Five-yard penalty at the succeeding spot.
5. No player shall use words or signals that disconcert opponents when they are preparing to put the ball in play. No player may call defensive signals that simulate the sound or cadence of, or otherwise interfere with, offensive starting signals.
Approved Ruling 7-1-5 V 3/2 @ B-45. Team A is in formation and the snap is imminent. Team A QB is in shotgun formation and is using a clap as a starting signal. Team B (a) squad member; (b) assistant coach claps causing the Team A wideout to false start or the snapper to snap the ball. RULING: Dead-ball foul, delay of game for disconcerting signals [S21] for both (a) and (b). Team A will have 1/10 @ B-40. The rule states that no player may call defensive signals that simulate the sound or cadence of, or otherwise interfere with, offensive starting signals. The spirit of the rule would include squad members or coaches that clap when the snap is imminent and could cause the offense to false start.
PENALTY [4-5]—Dead-ball foul, delay of game. Five yards from the succeeding spot [S21].
b. When the snap starts:
1. No player may be in or beyond the neutral zone at the snap.
2. All players must be inbounds.
PENALTY—Live-ball foul. Five yards from the previous spot [S18].