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Players now helping officials during hurry-up offense

Players are now assisting officials in spotting the ball during a two minute drill.



The final, thrilling, frantic seconds of a football game is always stressful. For the officials, the pressure builds. One of their prime responsibilities is to get the ball ready for play and not cause an unfair delay to the offense.

Over the years, the officials have developed ball relays down to a science, including during a two minute drill.

When there mere seconds left in a half, officials have to quickly spot the ball. Officials don’t toss the ball back in to the referee or umpire, because players are running around and the toss could hit them and wobble away. Or, the official may get off a bad toss or the umpire or referee could drop the ball and cause an unfair delay.

In the last 30 years, the umpire would sprint to the succeeding spot, get a  new ball from the sideline, and sprint to the hash and spot the ball. That worked well, but sometimes there were still accidents.

I’ve noticed this year, that the offensive players, both college and the pros, actually help the officials in a two-minute drill. Once the covering official sounds the whistle, the ball carrier gets up and sprints the ball to the umpire or referee.

The players can run faster than the official, and fewer ball transfers means fewer chances for a time-consuming accident.

This is a beneficial relationship. The offense needs the ball ready as quickly as possible. They use their athletic ability to assist the officials with this.

Deep down, the officials have got to appreciate this as they don’t have to worry about accidents and can get into position faster and be ready for the next play.

It’s one of those “Why didn’t we think of this sooner?” moments, but football players and officials have found the next level in getting the ball ready for play in a two-minute drill.

Photo: Indianapolis Colts

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"