The first week of the XFL regular season begins this weekend, with two games on Saturday and two on Sunday. Referees Reggie Smith, Brandon Cruse, Jeff Heaser, and James Carter will lead their crews in the inaugural week of the re-birth of the XFL. Follow our live coverage here and on our Twitter page, @footballzebras.
Game assignments are below. All times are Eastern.
Saturday, Feb. 8
Seattle Dragons at DC Defenders, 2 p.m. ABC
DJ Rod Ammari (O’Neill crew) is substituting for DJ Dale Keller this week.
- Replay official: Glenn King
- Ball spotter: Derek Hatten
- Supervisor: Larry Upson
Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks, 5 p.m. FOX
- Replay official: Mark Butterworth
- Ball spotter: Jason LaBorde
- Supervisor: Steve Strimling
Sunday, Feb. 9
Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians, 2 p.m. FOX
|Lo Van Pham
- Replay official: Robert Lu
- Ball spotter: Corey Hanson
- Supervisor: Chuck Bresnahan
St. Louis Battlehawks at Dallas Renegades, 5 p.m. ESPN
LJ Tom Eaton (O’Neill crew) is substituting for LJ Steven Matarante this week.
- Replay official: Mike Chase
- Ball spotter: Crystal Cooksey
- Supervisor: Wes Booker
New innovation of the 9th on-field crew member: the ball-spotting official
One of the XFL’s many officiating innovations is the addition of the ball-spotting official. This 9th official, who is positioned in the offensive backfield between the referee and center judge, has no foul-calling responsibilities, but is solely responsible for having a football ready for the next play. The ball-spotting official in the debut game, Derek Hatten, is wearing the red hat, as all ball-spotting officials will wear. He is seen mirroring timing mechanics by winding the clock for the next play.
R Reggie Smith with the first penalty announcement of the new XFL
XFL teams have options on try attempts
To increase the excitement of the point-after-touchdown, the XFL has introduced the three try options that make the extra point less automatic. The team that scored the touchdown can attempt an offensive play for 1 point from the 2-yard line, 2 points from the 5-yard line, or 3 points from the 10-yard line. No kicking plays are allowed. The defense can return a fumble or interception on a try, and if returned to the end zone, the defense will score the same number of points that the offense was trying for.
U Brad Hudak takes a spill
Umpire Brad Hudak gets caught in the middle of the action and hits the deck. The NFL abandoned the traditional umpire position in favor for a safer place in the offensive backfield, however, college football still uses the traditional position in the “meat grinder”.
Referees are wired for sound
In addition to the wireless microphone to announce penalties, referees are also wearing microphones which broadcast conferences, such as these, to the live television audience. Here, referee Reggie Smith and crew discuss penalty enforcement for a dead ball personal foul.
Timing rules after the two-minute warning
In the XFL, timing rules after the two-minute warning differ from the NFL for all plays where a runner is tackled in bounds. The play clock will stop at the end of every play and will start again 5 seconds after the ball is spotted. The exception is for incomplete passes and plays that end out of bounds, where the clock will start on the next snap, which is the traditional timing rule. Keep an eye on the clock in this clip, it stops at 1:35 when the running play ends, and restarts 5 seconds after the play clock starts running, indicative of the ball being spotted.
Short free kick is similar to an NFL kickoff out of bounds
In the XFL, if a kickoff does not travel beyond the receiving team’s 20-yard line in the air, it is treated as a short free kick, and the receiving team will automatically take possession of the ball at their opponent’s 45-yard line. This is somewhat similar to a kickoff out of bounds in the NFL, however, the XFL rule grants the receiving team an extra 15 yards of field position. A kickoff out of bounds in the XFL is treated the same way as a short free kick.
R Reggie Smith and CJ Adam Savoie confer and pick up the flag
Although we catch just the tail end of this conference, referee Reggie Smith and center judge Adam Savoie came together to pick up a flag for roughing the passer, since the quarterback established a running posture and lost low hit protection. Savoie is a white hat in the ACC, so he has experience in ruling on roughing the passer plays.
“Stop the game, stop the game, stop the game!”
Replay official Robert Lu interjects here to initiate a replay review of a fumble, which was reversed to an incomplete pass. Tampa Bay tight end Nick Truesdell did not complete the process of the catch prior to the ball being knocked loose, so this play was a correct reversal.
Vipers DT Ricky Walker ejected for throwing a punch
Tampa Bay defensive tackle Ricky Walker has the (dis)honorable distinction of being the first XFL player to be disqualified. Walker threw a punch and connected after the play was over. Another Tampa Bay defensive lineman was offside on the play, but only one foul is enforced, which is the same as the NFL penalty enforcement principle. Take a listen to the discussion the crew had before ejecting Walker, including referee Jeff Heaser’s back and forth with down judge Cravonne Barrett confirming the enforcement was properly applied.
XFL debut for CJ Amanda Sauer-Cook
You can read more about center judge Amanda Sauer-Cook and her officiating story here.