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Rules review video: Replays after a penalty, duplicate numbers, and blindside blocks

National college officiating coordinator Steve Shaw explains some rulings from Week 1



2023 media video #2

National coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw posted a video breaking down rules and interpretations for Week 1 of College Football.

  • Shaw recapped the intent of the new clock rules: to keep the game moving, reduce the number of plays, and maintain consistency in terms of mechanics with all clock rules.
  • Games were down six plays per game on average compared to week 1 of last season. Total game time was also down. Shaw alerted that we will not be able to see reliable results until further into the season, as week 1 is too small of a sample size, though it is encouraging.
  • After a run on 1st and goal that was stopped just short of the goal line, the clock continued to run. The offense hurried to the line and committed a false start. Because the foul caused the clock to stop and there was less than a minute left in the half, the offense was charged their final timeout to avoid a 10 second runoff. After the timeout, the replay official initiated a review of the 1st and goal run. Shaw explained this is legal because the ball was never legally put into play. The goal line call stood, the game clock was reset, and play continued.
  • On a 4th and 3 punt, the receiving team was flagged for two players wearing identical numbers while on the field for the same down. The penalty is enforced 5 yards from the previous line of scrimmage and gives the offense the necessary yardage for a 1st down.
  • In a different game from the previous, a similar situation occurred. This time, the kicking team had duplicate numbers on the field for a punt at the same time. The foul on the kicking team is still 5 yards, but the receiving team chooses whether they want it enforced from the previous spot with a replay of the punt, or from the end of the return assuming the receiving team has possession of the ball.
  • A run by the offense ended with the QB running out of bounds into his own team’s bench area. Even though it seemed like the offense did not make a substitution, the defense is given time to substitute. This rule is in place because of how challenging it is to determine if a team substituted when the play ended in their own team area. The team area is defined as a team’s sideline in between the 20 yard lines.
  • During a punt return, the return team delivers a legal blindside block to the a member of the kicking team. This block is legal because there was no attack using forcible contact to a defenseless player. Shaw mentioned that this block was more of a screen, and it is exactly what the rule makers had in mind when writing this rule.
  • A kickoff to inside the 5 yard line led to the receiving team calling for a fair catch. However, the kicked was muffed, and subsequently recovered by the receiving team. Because a fair catch was called for, the receiving team gave up their right to return the kick. As a result, the ball was declared dead the moment the receiving team gained possession, and the next play started from that dead ball spot.
  • During a quarterback scramble on 4th down, the ball carrier slides to give himself up, but he was hit late and in the head by the defense. The slide started roughly one yard short of the line to gain, so the ball was declared down at that spot. If a team does not reach the line to gain on 4th down, the drive is over immediately. As a result, the late hit is considered a dead ball foul and is enforced 15 yards from the succeeding spot during the turnover on downs. The defense keeps the ball, and it is 1st and 10.

Josh Cohn is a college student at Rochester Institute of Technology studying software engineering and creative writing. As a child, Josh would often officiate games between his friends and classmates during recess.