“2 Minute Drill” Training Videos
Each of these plays below should take about 2 min to watch and read about the rules, mechanics and philosophy application. None of us are immune to making mistakes, as hard as we try not to. This page is in no way intended to single out any official or crew, it is simply to help us learn from each other. Taking in 2 minutes of training will help you master your craft.
Big Hit on Receiver: Is this is a foul in HS?
First, we must recognize that NCAA rules and NFHS rules are different, sometimes by quite a bit. Targeting was called on this play (auto review in NCAA) and was properly overturned by the replay official. It validates how difficult it is to get targeting calls right in real time 100% of the time, even by experienced college officials.
Let’s review NFHS rule 9-4-3(g) “No player shall make any other contact with an opponent, including a defenseless player, which is deemed unnecessary or excessive and which incites roughness”. 9-4-3(m) prohibits targeting (defined in Rule 2-20). The NCAA does not have a rule similar to 9-4-3(g). Under NCAA code it’s targeting or nothing. In 2023, NFHS code (2-32-16) was modified to include a receiver in the act of or just after catching or attempting to catch a pass as “defenseless”, and protected from forceful contact unless the contact was a result of (1) playing the ball, or (2) intiated with open hands, or (3) a wrap style tackle attempt by the defender.
This hit by Georgia #22 is forceful contact, and none of the 3 exceptions above are met and would be a personal foul if it was in high school. As officials we need to change our mindset from is it targeting to was the player defenseless, was the contact forceful, and were any of the 3 exceptions met. If you notice the targeting aspect as well, then great, call it targeting as you should, but the argument here is any targeting foul or close to targeting will almost always meet the definition of 9-4-3(g) also, which is much easier to rule on. We must protect our student athletes for the health of the players and the good of the game.
Side note: OSU WR Marvin Harrison Jr. was likely concussed on this play and didn’t return. If you take a second look you’ll notice that his mouthpiece was out and dangling the entire play. This has been a trend in both the NFL and NCAA for several years where officials have not enforced equipment regulations. HS athletes want to mimic what they see on Sat and Sun. Could Harrison’s concussion have been prevented had he worn his mouthpiece properly? We will never know. OSU’s star WR was knocked out and Georgia came back to win. More importantly, Harrison suffered a serious injury. As officials we have a duty to protect the athletes from “style” trends like this that put them at risk. If a player’s mouthpiece is out, it’s time to sit out a play so he can fix it’s “defectiveness”.
Army/Navy blocked punt: What is “force”?
“If something crazy happens, it’s usually a kicking play”. This has been a truism known by officials since the game was invented. This is a college play but many of the same concepts and mechanics apply to high school. Force (called ‘impetus’ in NCAA) is defined in Rule 2-13. It is a concept that many officials struggle with, primarily because these plays are very rare. The definition of a muff, Rule 2-27, is also important on this play.
Keep in mind D1 crews are 9 strong and enjoy the presence of a Center Judge, and a replay official who are critical to helping rule on this play. We don’t have that luxury. Imagine this was a HS game. The R is likely the only person who will be in position to rule on this. Questions the R must process quickly: What force puts the ball in the end zone? is the contact of the loose ball by the defense (Army) a factor, or is it disregarded? Why? There are two major lines to cover on this play, first the goal line, then the end line. How does the R get in position to rule on both in that amount of time? When is possession gained? What factors are important to see so close to the end line? It is easy to see why we as officials must be agile and athletic as possible, as the game can move quickly as it does here.
This crew did an excellent job covering and ruling on this extremely challenging play. Athleticism, superior mechanics, and mastery of rules and philosophies will help you get ready to rule on surprise plays such as these.
“Hands to face” foul by B and new basic spot rule
NFHS code does not have a specific “Hands to the face” personal foul like the NCAA does. However 9-2-1a and 9-2-3a prohibit “using a blocking technique not permitted by rule as in 2-3-2 and 2-3-5”. Rule 2-3-2 says that a blocker’s hands must be inside the frame of the body and the frame of the body is defined at the shoulders or below other than the back (also note the runner is excepted from 9-2-1). Watch the actions of B60, the left defensive tackle on this play. He gets two hands into the opponent’s face then follows up with a sustained push against the face mask with an open hand. This was not noticed by the Umpire but this is an illegal use of hands foul. It is a 10 yard penalty, signal 42 (same signal as holding). Had he grabbed and twisted or pulled on the face mask it would be a major face mask foul, 15 yards.
Under the 2023 change in the basic spot for foul enforcement on running plays in rule 10-4, it states fouls behind the LOS by EITHER Team A and B will be enforced from the previous spot (with a few exceptions). The end of the run is the A-36. This would have been the enforcement spot in 2022. The previous spot is the A-39. Under the new rule, the foul would be enforced from here.
Foul enforcement is always a crew responsibility, and with a major new rule change like this one, every crew member must give added focus to ensure we get it right!