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Rules review video: Scrimmage kick advancement, targeting, and blocking below the waist

National college officiating coordinator Steve Shaw explains some rulings from Week 9



2023 media video #10

National coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw posted his weekly video breaking down rules and interpretations from Week 9 of the college football season. The following statistics were given in regards to the new clock rules prior to going through plays:

FBS is averaging 176 plays per game, which is down over 4 plays and 4 minutes per game. FCS is averaging 171 plays per game, which is down 4.5 plays and 5 minutes per game. Division II is averaging 170 plays per game, which is down 4.5 plays per game. Division III, who did not implement the new first down clock rule this season, is slightly up in plays per game so far this season.

  • Scrimmage kick advancement. In a D-III matchup, an attempted game winning field goal was blocked. Because the ball never crossed the neutral zone, either team could pick up the ball and advance it. The offense recovered the blocked kick and ran it in for the game-winning touchdown.
  • Targeting. A defender makes a hard hit to a defenseless offensive player and is flagged for targeting. Though it appeared the defender intended to lead with the shoulder, there was still forcible contact to the head of a defenseless player.
  • Blocking below the waist. On a run that went outside the tackle box, the defender went low on the offensive lineman blocking. This was correctly called as an illegal block below the waist, which is a new/redefined rule for college football. Shaw mentioned that since this new rule was put into place, there has been a significant drop in lower leg injuries from blocks.
  • Illegal snap. A weird formation on a two point try led to nobody being anywhere near the center. The formation was legal, but the center snapped the ball by lifting and then essentially throwing the ball backwards. Snaps don’t have to be through the legs, but they do have to be a continuous motion.
  • Out of bounds. When a receiver goes out of bounds on their own, they cannot be the first one to touch the pass. On this play, the ball was tipped, and it was ruled on the field that the receiver did re-establish in bounds and legally caught the ball. Replay allowed the play to stand as there was not enough evidence to overturn the call on the field.
  • Injury timeout. An injury at the end of the game stopped the clock for the defense. Because they were out of timeouts and the injury was the only reason the clock stopped, there was a 10 second runoff with a play clock reset. This resulted in the game clock being run out without the offense having to run another play.

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.