SOME KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN NCAA AND NFL RULES

 

(BASED ON NFL RULEBOOK - 2003)

 

1.  TIMING:   Timeouts last :50  except when taken in last 2 minutes of a half, and then they last  :30 seconds.  Consecutive timeouts (must be called by different team) last :30.  Halftime is 12 minutes.  1 minute between quarters.  TUFL:  T/O’s are 1  min, max halftime is 15 min.

           Start clock on kickoffs when ball legally touched in the field of play

 

           Game clock stops:

                    when a runner goes OOB but clock is restarted on the ready except for last 2 min of 1st half and last 5 minutes of 2d half. Restart on the snap then.  

                    when player receiving initial snap is downed behind the LOS (i.e. a QB sack). Restart on the ready.   Exception to this is in last 2 minutes of a half or while attempting to run out the clock by kneel down. Clock is not stopped then.

                     to deal with penalties.  Restart on the ready whether penalty accepted or not except for last 2 min of 1st half and last 5 of 2d half. Then clock starts on snap in all cases. TUFL:  Only applies in last 2 min of ea half.

                     for 2-minute warning. Restart on the snap.  

                    during last 2 min of a half, stop on backward passes out of bounds and restart on the ready.  Otherwise clock does not stop.

 

                        Clock does NOT stop after 1st downs to move the chains.

 

            Signal R's timeout with timeout signal and one hand on top of hat.  TUFL:  Uses NCAA Signal

 

            2 min intervals between quarters

 

            Play Clock:  40 seconds from end of play until next snap.  In some administrative stoppages or game delays they will get 25 seconds from the ready.  TUFL:  25 sec play clock always

 

            Delay of Game:  In last 2 minutes of a half, if defense fails to get back onsides after ball has been spotted and offense is ready to go, let A snap but stop clock immediately and penalize defense for offsides. (4-3-9)

 

           Extending a Period – If foul by defense, offense can choose to extend or not if penalty is accepted.  If foul is by offense, no extension of period.   Double fouls at end of 1st or 3d – no extension, at end of 2d or 4th, extend except if 5 vs 15 and 15 is on offense, or if continuing action fouls, or a change of possession with foul by team who had clean hands when got ball.

 

            R must personally advise captain and head coach when all 3 timeouts have been used

 

2.  CAPTAINS:  Each team can have up to 6 at the toss.  Winners cannot defer choice to 2d half.  Toss is at KO minus 3 minutes.


 3.  FIELD:  Hashes are supposed to be 70'9" from sideline, not 60' like in NCAA.

 

             Goalposts should be 18'6" wide not 23'4" like UIL.

                     TUFL:  Uses whatever field has (hashes and posts)

 

4.  KICKOFFS:  Team A kicks from 30 yard line (except after a safety) unless moved due to a penalty. 

 

            Short Free Kicks:   If KO does not travel 10 yards and is not touched by Team B, it is a foul.  There is a mandatory 5 yard penalty and a rekick, Team B cannot decline.  If Team B recovers, they can take result of the play.  If there is a 2d consecutive short free kick, it is Team B’s ball at spot of illegal touch or where ball becomes dead, whichever is more advantageous. There will be no rekick inside last 5 minutes of 2d half. 

 

            Kickoffs Out of Bounds:  Team B can take ball at OOB spot or 30 yards from Team A’s free kick line.  If ball went OOB without going 20 yards, Team A must be penalized 5 yards and make a rekick, no option for Team B.  After a 2d consecutive free kick OOB (less than 20 yards from Team A free kick line), Team B must take at OOB spot.     If ball goes OOB after last touch by B, no foul.  If after last touch by A, even if touched by B before, it is a foul. . There will be no rekick inside last 5 minutes of 2d half. 

 

            Blocking:  If Team A blocks a Team B player less than 10 yards from Team A’s free kick line before the ball has gone 10 yards it is a 10 yard prev spot penalty.   Team B blocking the free kicker before kicker has had a chance to regain his balance is a 5 yard prev spot penalty.

 

            Ball Touching Ground in End Zone:  The ball does not become dead automatically.  Team A must cover the kick but can down it for a touchback. 

 

5.  NUMBERING:  If a player with an ineligible number will occupy an eligible position, he must report to the R before the play and R will then advise the defense.  This is an illegal substitution foul otherwise. He must continue reporting on every play he stays in an eligible position and must be replaced if he is to no longer be in an eligible position.

 

6.  PASSING:

             Even if a Team A player is blocked OOB, he cannot be the first Team A player who touches the pass (unless pass is touched by Team B).  Exception: If Team A receiver is knocked OOB by way of a foul.

 

         Pass Interference:  If by offense, 10 yards prev spot penalty.  If by defense, ball goes to spot of foul with an auto 1st.  If in the end zone, ball goes to the 1 with an auto 1st.  If ball was snapped from the 2 or closer, penalize ½ the distance with an auto 1st.  If the PI by defense is also a personal foul, enforce both penalties. (8-2-5 PEN)

 

         Intentional Grounding:  If passer is outside normal TE position, he can dump the ball as long as it lands near or beyond the NZ, in or out of bounds.  Otherwise the penalty is 10 yards from prev spot with loss of down.  If spot of foul is more than 10 yards from prev spot, penalize from that spot with just a LOD.  Will be a safety if penalty accepted for foul which occurs in the end zone. 


       
Ineligibles:  

                             A t-formation QB is not eligible to receive a forward pass.

 

                             All of Team A becomes eligible if ball is touched by an eligible Team A player or any Team B player.

        Illegal touch (intentional or not) carries a 5 yard previous spot penalty.

 

         Roughing the Passer - If the contact is before the defender’s 2d foot hits the ground after the ball is released, it is not roughing (unless it involves contact to the head of the passer).  It is illegal to unnecessarily rough the passer even if the initial contact was within the prescribed limitations.  The “1-step rule” goes away if the QB is running outside the pocket area and throws while on the run.  The defender is allowed more leeway in these cases.

 

         Defenders cannot "club" the arm of the passer nor can they hit the passer at the knee or below if they have an unobstructed path to the passer.

 

          If the QB is in the “grasp and control” of the defender, play is whistled dead. 

 

         Roughing the Passer rules apply to legal AND illegal forward passes if thrown from behind NZ.


         Completing Catch:  Player must have 2 feet or any body part (other than hands or feet) touch inbounds with possession.  If you judge he would have landed with both feet down but is pushed or carried OOB, it is ruled a completion/interception, if the player maintains possession when he lands OOB.

 

          Illegal Forward Passes:  For a pass thrown while passer is beyond LOS, penalize 5 yards from spot of foul and LOD.  If a pass is illegal because it is the 2d forward pass during a down, penalize 5 yards from prev spot with NO LOD.  Same thing is it is a pass thrown from behind the LOS after the ball had advanced previously beyond the LOS.   Clock stops and restarts on the snap at all times.

 

            Eligibility, PI and IG rules apply to 2d forward passes as well as passes from behind the NZ even if ball had crossed the NZ.

 

            Chucking - DB's can chuck receivers only in the 1st 5 yards as long as QB is in the pocket.  (PEN: 5 yds, auto 1st)    If the QB leaves the pocket, defense can still chuck receiver beyond 5 yds as long as not on same yard line as receiver but B’s blocks must be legal (i.e. not clips, BBW, etc)  This whole rule does not apply in punt formation scenarios.

 

7.  SCRIMMAGE KICKS:

                   No 1 second delay required before contacting snapper but no repetitive head slapping allowed.                       

 

                   If a failed FG attempt which crosses the LOS is kicked from a spot outside the 20 yard line, the ball is returned to spot of kick and awarded to Team B assuming there is no attempt by team B to play the kick.   R must beanbag spot of kick.

 

                    Touching behind the line by a kicking team player is legal, even if the kick crossed the line and returned behind before being touched by a receiving team player beyond the line

 

                    If kicking team illegally recovers (inside the 5yard line) a FG that was kicked from inside the 20 or any punt, the ball is not automatically dead for if he carries the ball into the endzone it becomes a touchback.

 

                   Only the 2 furthest outside eligible Team A receivers can leave the LOS at the snap. Rest of Team A must wait till ball is kicked.  PENALTY: 5 yards prev spot  (Don't flag unless the ineligibles are more than one yard downfield)                         

 

                    There is a kick catch interference rule but it does not establish a “halo”.  Penalty is 15 yards from spot of foul, with or without contact by Team A.  This includes interfering with the ball, the receiver, or the receiver’s path to the ball. 

 

                  Fair catch signal only needs to be made 1 time, side to side.

 

                  There is a fair -catch free kick rule which allows Team B to elect to make a free kick immediately following a fair catch.  The free kick is either a drop kick or placekick in an attempt to score a FG.  Team B must not be closer than 10 yards from spot of kick when ball is kicked. 

 

                  Team B can advance after a fair catch signal if ball recovered after touching ground or after touching a Team A player while in flight.

 

                   Penalty for invalid fair catch signal is 5 yards from spot of signal.  NFL invalid signals are same as previous NCAA invalid and illegal signals.

 

                  Ball is not automatically dead after touching ground in the endzone but if Team B does not attempt to play it, it is whistled dead (if untouched by Team B beyond the NZ). 

 

                   In order to have a post-scrimmage kick enforcement, there must be a Team B foul after the scrimmage kick crosses the NZ and Team A cannot have possession of the ball at the end of the down.  It does not matter how far from the LOS Team B’s foul was. 

 

                   There is no such thing as roughing or running into the kicker if the kicker runs for any distance before kicking or if the kicker has to recover the ball before kicking or if the contact is caused by the kicker’s own motion or if the contact is the result of being blocked into the kicker.

 

                        Kick from beyond the NZ has a 10 yard penalty from spot of kick with repeat of down.  It is not automatically a dead ball.

 

                      If defense blocked into kicker, no foul.  If ball hits ground before kicker gets it, no foul for running into or roughing (but there can be other fouls).

 

8.      MISCELLANEOUS:

                Runner must be down "by contact" unless gives up by feet first slide.

 

           Linemen can lock legs.

 

            If defense crosses the NZ and is continuing “unabated” to the QB or kicker, play is whistled dead and defense is penalized for offsides, whether anyone from Team moves or not. 

 

           A runner who slides feet first causes the ball to become dead at the spot ball was when he first touched ground. 

 

            Extra point trys are from the 2 yard line, not the 3.

 

            The ball is dead on a try as soon as defense gains possession.  It is also dead if the try is by kick and kick has obviously failed.

 

           Penalties during try downs - If defense foul prevents the try (i.e. offsides by contact, etc), replay the try and yardage can be assessed there or on the KO.  If defense fouls during the try, it is assessed on a re-try or on the KO, regardless of yardage of penalty.

           The 4th down fumbles are treated like NCAA rules.  The same thing is in effect for ALL fumbles in the last 2 minutes of a half, regardless of down.   Applies to both teams.

 

            Defenders cannot initiate or continue contact with eligible receivers more than 5 yards from NZ.  This is a 5 yard prev spot penalty, auto 1st.  EXCEPTION: If QB is outside pocket or apparent punt formation or QB hands off or pitches.

 

            Illegal kicking or batting of a loose ball is a 10 yard penalty from spot of fumble or backward pass (unless it is a Team A foul behind the spot of fumble or backward pass in which case it is a spot foul).  If spot of fumble or backward pass is behind the line of scrimmage, penalize from previous spot. 

 

           Extending Periods:  Extend if a foul on the defense is accepted.  If foul by offense on last play of half, do not extend and take away any score by offense.  Exception:  The defensive team can elect to have period extended if the offensive foul is fair catch interference,  or a personal foul or UC prior to an interception. 

                                           If a fair catch is made or awarded during a down when time expires, receivers can elect to extend period for a scrimmage down or a fair catch free kick. 

 

            Momentum Exception:  It applies no matter where the ball is intercepted as long as original momentum carries him into the endzone.  If possession occurs between 1 and goal line, spot at the 1.

 

            An offensive player who “aids the runner”, i.e. pushes or pulls him, has fouled like in the NCAA.  Difference is it is a 10 yard penalty in NFL.

 

            Tripping anyone, including the runner, has a 10 yard penalty.  A leg whip carries a 15 yard penalty.

 

            Holding or illegal use of hands by the defense has a 5 yard penalty and auto 1st down.

 

            Legal clips can only involve contact between the knees and waist of the blocked player.  All clips below the knees are illegal, even if in the clipping zone.

 

            The illegal blocking below the waist (“crackback”) zone is 5 yards either side of the LOS and applies to the same players as it does in NCAA rules, except the man in motion.  Once a QB starts to scramble, these blocks become legal. (Signal is one hand chopping at thigh) (see 12-2-10)

 

            Disconcerting signals by the defense has a 15 yard  UC penalty.

 

           If a team has no timeouts left and they have an injured player in the last 2 minutes of a half, they get one free timeout to replace the player.  For any further injuries after that, they must be penalized 5 yards.  Must also run 10 seconds off the clock if injury is on offensive team and they are behind in score.  The exception is when a foul caused the injury.  Then there is no charged timeout.   (NOTE: Anytime a foul caused the injury, an injured player can stay in the game after treatment. 4-3-3-Exception)

 

             Inadvertent whistles - During run: ball to offense at spot where whistle blew.  During backward pass/fumble:  Offense gets ball where it was when whistle blew unless it was loose in the end zone.  Then ball goes to the 1 and down counts.  During legal forward pass:  Incomplete pass ruled.  During kick:  ball is receiver's at spot it was when whistle blew.  During illegal forward pass:  Ball is passer's at spot of pass with penalty to be enforced.

 

            Illegal kicking or batting:  10 yard penalty.  Basic Spot is spot of fumble/backward pass.  For offensive fouls behind basic spot, penalize from spot of foul unless fumble/backward pass occurred behind line of scrimmage.  Then penalize from previous spot.  Exception:  When spot of backward pass/fumble is behind the line of scrimmage, enforcement spot is previous spot for both teams but offensive foul in its end zone will result in a safety.   When spot of fumble/backward pass is beyond the line of scrimmage, defensive foul is enforced from spot of fumble/backward pass, regardless of where the foul is. 

 

            Pylons - A player touching a pylon is not out of bounds until he touches ground out of bounds.  (2002 change)

 

9.  PENALTY ENFORCEMENT: 

 

            Double fouls - If there is a 5 and a 15 yard penalty foul on different teams, enforce the 15 yarder from the prev spot, except if one of them is an illegal touch of a scrimmage kick.

                                  If there is a double foul which includes a change of possession, and the team who ends up with the ball got it with clean hands, the penalties do not offset.  Only their foul is enforced. Exceptions:  If kickers fouled during any kick, receivers can elect offsetting.  If team gaining possession fouls and loses possession, offset.  If score would result from a foul by team gaining possession, offset.

                                  If they did not have clean hands when gained possession, offset. 

 

             If defense commits personal foul or UC foul prior to pass completion. offense gets to keep result of play and get the 15 yard tack on.  If offense commits a personal foul or UC foul prior to interception, defense gets to keep the ball with the 15 yard tack on. (8-3-3 and 8-3-4)

 

            Defensive fouls behind the NZ and run ends behind NZ, penalize from spot or end of run whichever is more advantageous to offense.  But if this does not get ball to previous spot, put at previous spot and replay down (unless it calls for an auto 1st)

                                                                                                                                   

10.  SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME:

                         Do a coin toss.  3 minute intermission.    Each team gets 2 timeouts per overtime period.  Each period lasts 15 minutes.  Normal NFL rules re last 5 minutes of a game and last 2 minutes of a half apply in each OT period during last 5 minutes and 2 minutes.  During subsequent OT periods just change directions teams are going, do not re-toss.

 

11.  CREW ON FIELD AT KICKOFF MINUS 10

NFL Pass Interference Classifications

(The outline below was presented by Jim Poole; NFL Downfield Trainer, at the 2002 NFL Grass Roots Clinic on April 20th 2002 in San Diego California.)

 

Pass Interference is defined as an act that significantly hinders a player’s (either an eligible offensive receiver or a defender) ability to attempt to reach a catchable forward pass. Acts that are defined as pass interference can be classified into six categories for defense and into three categories for offense.

 

The six categories of DPI are:

1. Not playing the ball.  The defender must be playing/looking for the ball prior to any contact. Not turning to look for the ball is a clear indication of playing the man and not playing the ball. In most cases there will be no foul if contact occurs while both players are looking for the ball.

2. Playing through the back of an eligible receiver who has established position.

3. Grabbing the arm of an eligible receiver.  May not always be visible to the SJ/FJ. BJ may be in best position to see this.

4. “The Arm Bar”   Extending the arm across the opponent’s body.

5. Cutting off the path of an eligible receiver.  Either by being in front of the receiver and slowing down; or, by ‘ridding’ the receiver.

6. “Hook and Turn” .  It is no longer a foul for just placing a hand or arm on the back or side of a receiver. Need to hook or grab and turn the receiver.

 

The three categories of OPI are:

1. Blocking downfield before the ball has been touched.  Also referred to as “the pick play”.  Not a foul if the receiver is being contacted / ridden by a defender.

2. Shoving or pushing off and creating separation. A foul is indicated if the ball is thrown into the area, not necessarily to the  receiver who pushed.

3. Driving through a defender who had established position.

 

The following acts/contact would not be deemed DPI:

1. Inadvertent tripping.   If both players are looking for the ball – No foul.  If one is looking and the other is not – The foul would be on the player not looking for the ball. A foul for not playing the ball is indicated.

2. A hand or hands placed on the receiver with no turning of the receiver.

3. Contact by a defender with position to get to the ball and even with the  receiver.

4. Contact involving an uncatchable forward pass.  Pass should clearly be uncatchable.  “Thrown into the stands”; if any doubt rule pass catchable.  The ‘off’ official should be prepared to help with this call as the covering official will be/should be concentrating on the receiver/defender and may not be able to observer the flight of the ball.

 

Why are Pass Interference calls missed?

1. The official is not in proper position. We must work hard to be in the best position to see the action between receiver and defender.

2. The official is watching the ball and not the player(s).  Must look at head and body to see where players are looking and any contact.

3. The official is not following his “keys”. Watching the wrong receiver.