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 #5
Horse Collar Fouls
I knew it would happen! After mentioning horse collar fouls in last week bulletin, I observed a crew missing a horse collar in a game last Friday night and I get video of another game where a missed horse collar happens on a running back in the backfield. Luckily we have video that was kindly offered of both plays and we will be able to have the crew review the plays. Lessons learned? In the first play the horse collar tackle pulled the runner to the ground sideways, not straight backwards. This action also fits the definition of a horse collar tackle and should be flagged as the defender clearly and dramatically pulled the runner to the ground…just not backwards. If the tackle had gone forward, then there would be NO horse collar as you can’t pull a runner to the ground FORWARDS. In the second play the horse collar happens in the backfield which is very unusual as it is a sweep play as it develops and the defensive lineman breaks through and pulls the runner down by the horse collar. This call is the referee’s and I bet it caught the referee off balance. Referees alert to all action on the running back when he is in the backfield between the tackles.
Furthermore, when is an apparent horse collar tackle NOT illegal personal contact? When the player is pulled down by his hair. In a game two weeks ago a running backs had hair nearly down to his waist and was tackled near the player’s sideline….by the hair! The coaching staff went nuts because they felt a horse collar tackle foul should have been called.
Coincidentally, San Diego NFL referee Mike Carey's crew waive off an apparent horse collar tackle recently. Mike's announcement on the play was, "There is no foul for a horse collar tackle. The runner was brought down by his hair".
Legal Formation – Offensive Linemen Breaking the Waist of the Snapper
Rule 2-32-9 “An offensive linemen is a player who is facing his opponent’s goal line with the line of his shoulders approximately parallel thereto and with his head or foot breaking an imaginary plane drawn parallel to the line of scrimmage though the waist of the snapper when the ball is snapped.” When offensive tackles or guards cheat back they can gain a blocking advantage by being in a better position to pull, block down, or pass block. Line of scrimmage officials must stay on top of these tendencies. If early in the game, warn once and inform the coach. After that it is a flag.
12 Men Participating on Offense
Last Friday we had a team huddle at the sideline with the coach. The referee signaled the ball ready for play and the offensive team hurried out on the field, lined up on the ball, and quickly snapped it. Unfortunately the referee and umpire did not get a count and later it was confirmed that 12 players were in the formation and participated. I am asking all umpires to cover the ball in these situations until the referee “pushes you off.” In this way, the referee and umpire will have time to count the offense and make sure we are ready for play.
Hits on Defenseless Players
Again, video clips from several games show players who are clearly out of the play being blocked unexpectedly by an offensive player, sometimes 15 or more yards behind or to the side of the play. Rule 9-4-3b states that it is illegal personal contact for a player to “charge into or throw an opponent to the ground after he is obviously out of the play, or after the ball is clearly dead either in or out of bounds.” The “away official” must be looking for this type of action. It is a SAFETY issue!
One Positive Note….Blocks in the Back
So far I am very pleased with our Judgement on Blocks in the Back (BIB). Several video clips show blocks that are not clearly IN THE BACK and our officials are not misinterpreting this action. The rule clearly states that contact on this illegal block must be directly in the back. Videos are showing our officials “passing” on blocks that are more from the side than the back. Great job!