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Football Zebras > 2021 > 2021 Postseason > Look for the umpire and back judge to spot the ball during 2-minute drill

Look for the umpire and back judge to spot the ball during 2-minute drill

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There was a ton of consternation this playoff season about the officials spotting the ball during the frantic final seconds of the football game.

If there is a two-minute drill this weekend, here is what should happen.

First of all, look for players to assist the officials in getting the ball spotted.

The umpire will have primary responsibility to spot the ball, especially on running plays. This is because the umpire will be moving forward and trailing the play. His momentum is carrying him toward the play. The umpire will have enough time to spot the ball and backpedal into his position before the next snap; however the umpire will go to the defensive side of the ball when the quarterback is looking to clock the ball.

But on a long pass, the back judge will step in and spot the ball. He can then backpedal to his position before the offense would be ready, making for a more expedient method. In this case, the upfield officials haven’t been trailing the play like they would a run or short pass, and have to gain more ground between downs. This is the one exception that the umpire would not have to touch the ball, as long as an official has spotted it, and not a player.

On a long run, the back judge cannot be the primary ball spotter, because the offense would progress with the runner, and there wouldn’t be time for the back judge to get into position before the snap.

The officials will work an maximum effort to spot the ball in time for the offense to get a snap. If the offense is smart in their play calling, and the players help the officials spot the ball, we should have entertaining two-minute drills this weekend.

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Mark Schultz
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?"

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