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Rules review video: getting away with feigning injury, late subs, and receivers out of bounds

2022 rules review video #2

National coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw posted his second weekly video this season addressing rules and interpretations in college football.

  • Shaw again presented statistics on targeting fouls, saying that the foul occurs in out in 4.8 games on average, a slight increase to the 1-in-4.2 average he announced last week.
  • A targeting flag was reviewed in replay, and Shaw pointed out that a runner in the open field can be hit in the head, but the defender may not use the crown of the helmet. (Only defenseless players would have the extra protection of all forcible head hits.) He pointed out the definition of the crown part of the helmet was revised to align with new helmet designs.
  • Late substitution rules were discussed, when a punt team had 10 players on the field, the defense was allowed to substitute to match up.
  • Tents and backdrops used on team sidelines continue to be used and, even though Shaw acknowledged they may annoy the fans, there is nothing to prohibit the practice in the rulebook.
  • A college rule that differs from the NFL on when receivers lose eligibility was reviewed. College receivers who are pushed out of bounds must reestablish with two feet in the field of play to regain eligible. (The NFL rule is that any receiver that goes out of bounds may not be the first to touch a pass, except if that receiver was put out of bounds as the result of a foul.)
  • Houston was shown to have 12 players on defense as the play clock was ticking down. In an odd coincidence, one of the Houston players immediately collapsed to the field with a leg injury just 2½ minutes into the game. Officials cannot make a judgement call on whether a player is feigning injury, even if one trots off the field on his own power immediately after getting a free timeout to avoid the illegal substitution penalty. I feel this was a missed opportunity for Shaw to discuss the new rule for 2022 regarding feigned injuries, but it might be that this is a situation that is in process and premature to comment on it:

For the 2022 season, the Rules Committee has authorized an administrative process for questionable game action. An institution or conference has the option to consult the national coordinator of football officials who would then facilitate a video review. After the review, the national coordinator will communicate any findings to the conference office for further action.

Special attention is directed to the strongly-worded statement in The Football Code (coaching ethics, section g).

The strongly worded statement is:

Feigning an injury for any reason is unethical. An injured player must be given full protection under the rules, but feigning injury is dishonest, unsportsmanlike and contrary to the spirit of the rules. Such tactics cannot be tolerated among sportsmen of integrity.

  • A wild snap results in a safety when the punter kicks the loose ball out of the end zone. Since the result of the play and the illegal kick penalty both result in a safety, it is a safety without a carryover penalty to the kickoff. Shaw discussed a hypothetical illegal kick in the field of play could have been accepted by the defense, nullifying the ball-out-of-bounds safety, and getting the ball on the loss of down right near the goal line.
  • The rule of a live ball on a blocked extra point was discussed, as to when the blocked kick lands in the end zone. In this case, a receiving team player touched the ball beyond the neutral zone and before the ball touched in the end zone, making it a live ball.
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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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