San Diego County Football Officials Association Memo
To: Crew Chiefs, Head Coaches, and Athletic Directors
CC: SDCFOA Instructors & Staff
From: Steve Coover, Instructional Chair SDCFOA
Re: Weekly Bulletin #10
Incomplete Screen Pass
The offense attempts to run a middle screen at or near where the ball is snapped. Two offensive linemen advance down field anticipating the pass to be thrown behind the LOS. The QB throws the ball out of reach of the receiver and the ball lands A) and remains behind the LOS; B) lands and rolls 5 yards beyond the LOS. In A, no foul for Ineligible Player Downfield because the ball has not crossed the neutral zone. In B, Ineligible Player(s) Downfield, 5 yards from previous spot. (This is not a loss of down penalty). The restrictions for ineligibles going down field starts when the ball is thrown so this gives the linemen even more time to get down field.
We had a play in a freshman game where the QB was in the end zone and under a heavy rush. The QB panicked and threw the ball to an ineligible lineman #77 who caught the ball A) in the end zone, or B) on the two yard line. In both cases the penalty is Illegal Touching. (This is NOT offensive pass interference or ineligible down field). Enforcement is the basic spot, the spot where #77 touched/caught the ball. If that spot is in the end zone (like situation A) then it is a safety. If the spot of illegal touching is on the two yard line (like situation B) then if accepted the penalty would be half the distance to the one yard line.
Please be sure to print out your coaches cards for every game. I am getting questions from coaches and they don’t know which official they’re talking about because they haven’t gotten cards in two games! Another tip is to make sure you include first names on the card as many coaches will call officials by first name so as to get the right one’s attention. Thank you for fixing this very simple problem.
PAT and Field Goals
Please be alert for teams that might pull an offensive player out of their blocking area so as to create a space for a teammate to run through and block the kick. This is holding on the defense. If the kick is no good, it would give the kicking team another try after penalizing the defense half the distance to goal line. If the kick were good, then the offense would keep the point(s) and have the penalty enforced on the kick off.
We are sorry to report that this year’s ejections have now equaled the number of ejections in 2005 (24) which is when we started this method of reporting. Last year we had seven! I have no idea what has happened but only hope that the players seeing these ejections see what a negative event it is for the team and the individual. A three game suspension is approximately 1/3 the entire season for a non-playoff team and for teams entering the playoffs, a three game suspension could be devastating. Again, Crew Chiefs are to take their time with these very important decisions and make sure we have an electable offense. Even the Tennessee Titans had an ejection in the Charger game this week….must be Halloween!
Passer Beyond the LOS
When is the passer beyond the LOS? A legal forward pass is when “the passer throws the ball with both feet in or behind the neutral zone when the ball is released”. So, it is an illegal forward pass when the passer releases the ball and one or both feet are beyond the neutral zone. It makes no difference if the passer is airborne or touching the ground as the neutral zone is a vertical plane the width of the football when it is marked ready for play. So the passer would need to have both feet within or behind the neutral zone when he released the pass.
Momentum on Scrimmage Kicks
As the kicking team player attempts to stop a punt from going into the end zone he gains possession at the 1 yard line and then falls into end zone. In this case we have one of two rulings possible. Possibility #1 - The kicking team player clearly possessed the balls in the field of play and then subsequently fell into the end zone. In this case, the ball is dead at the 1 yard line when the player clearly possessed it. There would need to be a delay in the two actions, one action making the catch, and the second action falling into the end zone. Possibility #2 - The kicking team player and the ball continued forward as the player established possession. In this case, possession was not clearly established as the player “moved with the action” and ended up in the end zone. In this case it is a touchback. The ball is placed at the 20 yard line. My suggestion is that we generally have players bat the ball away from the goal line and thus we are only ruling on the ball breaking the plane of the goal line. In the plays listed above, we have a player attempting to secure possession. In that case we need to clearly see that the player has possession and the ball has not broken the plane of the goal line. When in doubt, it is a touchback and we take the ball out to the 20 yard line.
In the past two weeks, we have had no less than four "pooch" kickoffs where a member of the kicking team either CAUGHT the kick in flight or lit up a member of the receiving team that was in position to catch the kick. Remember, Free Kicks are much the same as punts when it comes to the kick being in flight. If there is a receiver in position to make a catch, there can be NO kick catching interference. In both cases mentioned above, the ruling is kick catching interference. Now if the free kick has touched the ground, then we have a very different (and legal)situation if the ball has traveled 10 yards.