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WarTiger

2017 Football Rules and Interpretations

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Well, I debated about waiting till a little closer to the season to start this, but then I looked back and saw that I started it around the same time last year.    So, here we are.  The 2017 season is rapidly approaching.  There are several new rules this year but more at the high school level.  Remember the National Federation governs high school athletics across the country (except Texas where they play under college rules).  

Reminder: This isn't a thread to bash the officiating. This is a thread meant to help understand some of the finer points within the rules when unusual things happen. 

I thought the best place to start this year would be the rule changes for the National Federation, then the rule changes for College. 

Below is taken from the National Federation website and their commentary.

2-3-10 (NEW), 9-4-3n (NEW), 9-4 PENALTY:  Added a new definition for a blindside block and specifies a penalty for an illegal blindside block.

Rationale:  Continuing with the focus on risk minimization, the committee created a definition for a blindside block. This block involves contact by a blocker against an opponent who, because of physical positioning and focus of concentration, is vulnerable to injury. Unless initiated with open hands, it is a foul for excessive and unnecessary contact when the block is forceful and outside of the free-blocking zone.

2-16-2h:  Clarified that illegal participation fouls by R occurring during the kick are now enforced under post-scrimmage kick fouls.

Rationale:  Illegal participation fouls by R occurring during the kick are now enforced under post-scrimmage kick fouls. Illegal substitution and illegal participation fouls by R occurring at the snap continue to be enforced from the previous spot.

2-24-10 (NEW), 6-1-11 (NEW), 6-1 PENALTY:  Added a new definition for a pop-up kick and specifies a penalty for a pop-up kick.

Rationale:  Continuing with the committee’s efforts to minimize risk, a pop-up kickoff has been defined. A pop-up kick is a free kick in which the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, the ball strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of a ball kicked directly off the tee. Such kicks will be penalized as a dead-ball free-kick infraction.

2-32-16:  Expands the definition of a defenseless player by incorporating specific examples.

Rationale:  The committee adopted specific examples of a defenseless player. By adding these examples, the committee continues to focus on risk minimization and responded to requests on the annual NFHS football rules questionnaire from participating coaches, game officials and state association representatives.

3-4-7 (NEW):  Added a new option to the offended team to start the clock on the snap for an accepted penalty inside the last two minutes of either half.

Rationale:  The committee added an option for the offended team on an accepted penalty inside the last two minutes of either half. The referee continues to have the authority to start or stop the clock if a team attempts to conserve or consume time illegally.

7-1-6:  Now stipulates that it is encroachment to strike the ball or the snapper’s hand/arm prior to the snapper releasing the ball.

Rationale:  Defensive players are restricted from contacting the ball or the snapper’s hand(s) or arm(s) until the snapper has released the ball.

7-5-10:  Removes non-contact face guarding from the pass interference restrictions.

Rationale:  This change eliminates the previous foul for non-contact face guarding forward-pass interference.

I can elaborate on these further if anybody wants to discuss it.  

Now the college changes:

1. It is now illegal for defensive players who run toward the line of scrimmage to leap or hurdle offensive linemen on field goal and point-after-touchdown attempts. 

2. Players are now required to wear knee pads and pants that cover the knees. .

3. The nameplate area of the jersey is now included in the horse-collar tackle rule.  So, it’s not just the inside (back and side) collar of the jersey OR shoulder pads, but also includes the nameplate on the jersey as well. 

We'll get into some rule interpretations later in the weekend. 

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One of the questions that gets asked a lot over the course of the season is who is eligible to catch a forward pass.   I put together a chart with some formations to illustrate who is eligible in each formation.   The eligible numbers are 1-49 and 80-99.  Numbers 50-79 are PERMANENTLY INELIGIBLE to catch a forward pass.   If they do catch a forward pass its a penalty for illegal touching.  Hopefully the chart below will help make some sense of it.

4hru3m.jpg

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2-24-10 (NEW), 6-1-11 (NEW), 6-1 PENALTY:  Added a new definition for a pop-up kick and specifies a penalty for a pop-up kick.

 

 

Rationale:  Continuing with the committee’s efforts to minimize risk, a pop-up kickoff has been defined. A pop-up kick is a free kick in which the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, the ball strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of a ball kicked directly off the tee. Such kicks will be penalized as a dead-ball free-kick infraction.

 

@WarTigerSo no more traditional onside kicks, huh? Awesome!

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16 minutes ago, bigbird said:

2-24-10 (NEW), 6-1-11 (NEW), 6-1 PENALTY:  Added a new definition for a pop-up kick and specifies a penalty for a pop-up kick.

Rationale:  Continuing with the committee’s efforts to minimize risk, a pop-up kickoff has been defined. A pop-up kick is a free kick in which the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, the ball strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of a ball kicked directly off the tee. Such kicks will be penalized as a dead-ball free-kick infraction.

 

@WarTigerSo no more traditional onside kicks, huh? Awesome!

squib kicks along the ground are still completely legal.  The kick driving the ball immediately into the ground so it pops up is now illegal.  This is all going back to player safety.  I can't recall in all my years officiating, very many getting injured from fielding these types of kicks, but it is what it is. 

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22 minutes ago, WarTiger said:

squib kicks along the ground are still completely legal.  The kick driving the ball immediately into the ground so it pops up is now illegal.  This is all going back to player safety.  I can't recall in all my years officiating, very many getting injured from fielding these types of kicks, but it is what it is. 

I understand the player safety issue, but this rule is silly to me

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7 minutes ago, bigbird said:

I understand the player safety issue, but this rule is silly to me

I tend to agree.  Several years ago they allowed the receiving team to actually call for a fair catch on those pop up kicks.  That pretty much ended any chance of the kicking team having equal access to the ball in those situations.    Now the kicks are actually illegal. 

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On 7/14/2017 at 5:36 PM, WarTiger said:

1. It is now illegal for defensive players who run toward the line of scrimmage to leap or hurdle offensive linemen on field goal and point-after-touchdown attempts. 

I know this rule is in place partially due to Vandy v AU, but I think it is ridiculous.  That was a tremendous play.  This is something that players have tried for years.  The off the wall likelihood that it happens is so far fetched that there really should not be a rule for it.  If something like this happens then it should truly just be one of those times where you shake the guy's hand and say Great Job.  You have to first have the remarkable athletic ability to jump completely over anyone in the way without touching them.  Next you have to have the timing down perfectly to jump right at the snap.  Any later and the OL will be in the way of your jump.  This just gives the reason that the holder, kicker and snapper should work on changing the snap up.  Sometimes you flash your hand, sometimes you flash then clap or something.  This was a great play in my book and I hate that they are going to get rid of it.

 

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1 hour ago, lkeel75 said:
Quote

1. It is now illegal for defensive players who run toward the line of scrimmage to leap or hurdle offensive linemen on field goal and point-after-touchdown attempts. 

I know this rule is in place partially due to Vandy v AU, but I think it is ridiculous.  That was a tremendous play.  This is something that players have tried for years.  The off the wall likelihood that it happens is so far fetched that there really should not be a rule for it.  If something like this happens then it should truly just be one of those times where you shake the guy's hand and say Great Job.  You have to first have the remarkable athletic ability to jump completely over anyone in the way without touching them.  Next you have to have the timing down perfectly to jump right at the snap.  Any later and the OL will be in the way of your jump.  This just gives the reason that the holder, kicker and snapper should work on changing the snap up.  Sometimes you flash your hand, sometimes you flash then clap or something.  This was a great play in my book and I hate that they are going to get rid of it.

 

Did anyone ever determine why this wasn't already covered under the existing rule against hurdling?  Here's a link to a previous post with the hurdling rule as stated:

 

SECTION 15. Hurdling
ARTICLE 1. a. Hurdling is an attempt by a player to jump with one or
both feet or knees foremost over an opponent who is still on his feet
(Rule
9-1-13).
b. “On his feet’’ means that no part of the opponent’s body other than one
or both feet is in contact with the ground.

Hurdling
ARTICLE 13. There shall be no hurdling (Exception: The ball carrier may
hurdle an opponent).

Edited by triangletiger
added more information.

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15 minutes ago, triangletiger said:

Did anyone ever determine why this wasn't already covered under the existing rule against hurdling?

 

The previous rule had some "loop holes" that made this play allowed

1) You can not land on or touch another player unless first contacted by the offense. - Since he jumped completely over the center this was not an issue

2) The defender must reach the neutral zone before leaping.  So basically they have to be leaping where the ball was as the ball is being snapped. - Again this was just perfect timing by the defender.

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On 7/16/2017 at 10:52 AM, bigbird said:

2-24-10 (NEW), 6-1-11 (NEW), 6-1 PENALTY:  Added a new definition for a pop-up kick and specifies a penalty for a pop-up kick.

 

 

Rationale:  Continuing with the committee’s efforts to minimize risk, a pop-up kickoff has been defined. A pop-up kick is a free kick in which the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, the ball strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of a ball kicked directly off the tee. Such kicks will be penalized as a dead-ball free-kick infraction.

 

@WarTigerSo no more traditional onside kicks, huh? Awesome!

WarTiger,

Is this rule just for High school or does it also apply to college now?  I thought this was just for high school and the pop-up kick is still legal for college.

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1 hour ago, lkeel75 said:

The off the wall likelihood that it happens is so far fetched that there really should not be a rule for it.

You say that, but then it happened again in the NFL a few weeks later. I'm guessing that the reason it seems so unlikely is that many coaches were like WarTiger and thought it was basically illegal, so they never had their top athletes try it. Once they saw it, you can bet some would have worked on it.  The NFL banned it, too... because if you mess it up, bad things can easily happen.

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5 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

You say that, but then it happened again in the NFL a few weeks later. I'm guessing that the reason it seems so unlikely is that many coaches were like WarTiger and thought it was basically illegal, so they never had their top athletes try it. Once they saw it, you can bet some would have worked on it.  The NFL banned it, too... because if you mess it up, bad things can easily happen.

You are correct that it happened in NFL right after, but how many times did it happen in either level after that?  I agree that it could have easily hurt the player who was doing the jumping.

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3 minutes ago, lkeel75 said:

You are correct that it happened in NFL right after, but how many times did it happen in either level after that?  I agree that it could have easily hurt the player who was doing the jumping.

I have a bad feeling, had they not banned it, we would find out just how easily a player could get hurt trying it, this year. Vandy threw down the gauntlet, and you know every kid with a great jump wanted to prove they could do it.

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5 hours ago, lkeel75 said:

I know this rule is in place partially due to Vandy v AU, but I think it is ridiculous.  That was a tremendous play.  This is something that players have tried for years.  The off the wall likelihood that it happens is so far fetched that there really should not be a rule for it.  If something like this happens then it should truly just be one of those times where you shake the guy's hand and say Great Job.  You have to first have the remarkable athletic ability to jump completely over anyone in the way without touching them.  Next you have to have the timing down perfectly to jump right at the snap.  Any later and the OL will be in the way of your jump.  This just gives the reason that the holder, kicker and snapper should work on changing the snap up.  Sometimes you flash your hand, sometimes you flash then clap or something.  This was a great play in my book and I hate that they are going to get rid of it.

 

I disagree and I still contend this was covered under the hurdling penalty and there isn't really a need for a specific article in the book to make this illegal.  
Here's the rule on leaping.    

No defensive player who runs forward from beyond the neutral zone
and leaps from beyond the neutral zone in an obvious attempt to block
a field goal or try may land on any player(s).

Notice in that rule above it says absolutely nothing about leaping/hurdling over a player, only that they cannot land on a player.

First the definition of Hurdling.   NO a player laying on the ground is not being hurdled. :lol:   

SECTION 15. Hurdling
ARTICLE 1. a. Hurdling is an attempt by a player to jump with one or
both feet or knees foremost over an opponent who is still on his feet (Rule
9-1-13).
b. “On his feet’’ means that no part of the opponent’s body other than one
or both feet is in contact with the ground.

Now the penalty:

Hurdling
ARTICLE 13. There shall be no hurdling (Exception: The ball carrier may
hurdle an opponent).

My contention all along is that once the snapper snapped the ball, no part of his body was touching the ground other than his feet.  As a result the player that jumped over the offensive line, was either off sides or he HURDLED the center.  I'm not understanding why they don't see this the same way.  

I totally get it was an incredibly athletic play, but I'm glad they have specified that its illegal.   As far as I'm concerned it was already illegal because he hurdled the center.  He didn't jump the gap between the guard and center.

4 hours ago, triangletiger said:

Did anyone ever determine why this wasn't already covered under the existing rule against hurdling?  Here's a link to a previous post with the hurdling rule as stated:

 

SECTION 15. Hurdling
ARTICLE 1. a. Hurdling is an attempt by a player to jump with one or
both feet or knees foremost over an opponent who is still on his feet
(Rule
9-1-13).
b. “On his feet’’ means that no part of the opponent’s body other than one
or both feet is in contact with the ground.

Hurdling
ARTICLE 13. There shall be no hurdling (Exception: The ball carrier may
hurdle an opponent).

See my comments above.  I still don't get why they had to specifically outline this as illegal when the hurdling definition and penalty cover it already.  That's something I would love to ask Steve Shaw about myself.

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3 hours ago, GBAU83 said:

WarTiger,

Is this rule just for High school or does it also apply to college now?  I thought this was just for high school and the pop-up kick is still legal for college.

It is just for high school.  That's why the rule changes were separated in the original post. 

It is still legal in college, but the receiving team can also call for a fair catch on those types of kicks with totally ends the chance of the kicking team recovering it legally.   Since they can call for a fair catch, the kicking team can't interfere with his opportunity to catch the ball.  Therefore, why do that type of kick at all?

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4 hours ago, lkeel75 said:

The previous rule had some "loop holes" that made this play allowed

1) You can not land on or touch another player unless first contacted by the offense. - Since he jumped completely over the center this was not an issue.  Except by definition this is hurdling, which is illegal.  :lol:

2) The defender must reach the neutral zone before leaping.  So basically they have to be leaping where the ball was as the ball is being snapped. - Again this was just perfect timing by the defender.

That part isn't accurate.  The defender can leap in or beyond the neutral zone.

It is not a foul if the player leaps from in or behind (this probably should say BEYOND since behind would be the offensive side of the ball) the neutral
zone.

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New play.  2 years ago Auburn vs. Alabama. we kicked off to Alabama and the Alabama player touched it in the field of play and it went into the endzone.  Saw one comment that it would have been a safety had we tackled him in the endzone.   Well, let me break it down a bit and explain why that would NOT have been a safety and thus we benefited from him taking it out of the endzone.  

While the ball was touched by Alabama in the field of play and then went into the endzone, it's still a kicked ball.  Had we knocked him out of bounds in the back of the endzone OR tackled him in the endzone it would have been a TOUCHBACK and come out to the 25.  It would NOT have been a safety there. The reason the white hat was giving the deflection signal was to indicate it was touched and still a live ball.  Had Auburn recovered it in the endzone it would have been a touchdown for Auburn.  Had it gone out of the back of the endzone, it would have been a TOUCHBACK. The reason it wasn't blown dead was because it was touched in the field of play.  Had Alabama not touched it in the field of play it would have been blown dead when it reached the endzone and be an automatic touchback.  Here's the rule on it:

c. Any free kick or scrimmage kick continues to be a kick until it is caught or
recovered by a player
or becomes dead.

Ball Dead in End Zone
ARTICLE 7. a. When a free kick untouched by Team B touches the ground on
or behind Team B’s goal line, the ball becomes dead and belongs to Team B.

Initial Impetus
ARTICLE 2. a. The impetus imparted by a player who kicks, passes, snaps
or fumbles the ball shall be considered responsible for the ball’s progress in
any direction even though its course is deflected or reversed after striking the
ground or after touching an official or a player of either team.

(No possession = still a kick)

SECTION 6. Touchback
When Declared
ARTICLE 1. It is a touchback when:
a. The ball becomes dead out of bounds behind a goal line, except from an
incomplete forward pass, or becomes dead in the possession of a player on,
above or behind his own goal line and the attacking team is responsible for
the ball being there (Rules 7-2-4-c) (A.R. 7-2-4-I, A.R. 8-6-1-I-III).
b. A kick becomes dead by rule behind the defending team’s goal line and the
attacking team is responsible for the ball being there

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Ok.  Here's another one for everybody to digest.  This happened in my spring scrimmage back in May.   For the record, we (as a crew) got this enforcement wrong during the game, but fortunately for us, it happened in a spring game and we now know what we should have done.

2nd and 10 from the opponents 20 yard line.  QB drops back to pass, he scrambles under heavy rush and continues to run backwards to avoid defenders.  While blocking, the helmet comes off offensive player #58 at the 30 yard line.  The offensive player, picks up his helmet, puts it back on and executes a block at the 35 yard line, then the ball carrier is tackled back at the 41.   What is the penalty (if there is one) and where would the ball be spotted? 

ANSWER:  ILLEGAL PARTICIPATION on #58.  Even though he put his helmet back on he is prohibited from participating in the play.  He MUST stop participating once he loses his helmet.   Now, where is the penalty enforced from?  I will have to look up the college enforcement spot for this, but High School enforcement is NOT from the spot of the foul, but from the end of the run.  Since the run ended at the 41, we penalize 15 yards from the 41, so the Offensive would face 3rd and 46 from their own 44 yard line.   In high school the unwritten way to remember this is whatever hurts the offended team the most. 

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Let's discuss some basic things here before the season starts.   First, pass Interference and how its enforced in college and high school.   It's different, so if you go to games regularly on friday nights you might question why they did it the way they did, particularly when it comes to the automatic first down aspect of the rule.

 

Quote

Pass Interference – Defensive players have equal right to the ball.  In high school there is no such thing as an uncatchable pass.    The penalty enforcement on this from high school to college is very different.    In college, if the pass interference occurs less than 15 yards from the original line of scrimmage, the penalty is what’s called a spot foul, meaning the ball is placed at the spot of the interference and its an automatic first down.  IF the penalty occurs further than 15 yards downfield from the line of scrimmage, then it’s a 15 yard penalty  from the original line of scrimmage (previous spot) and a 1st down.     In high school all Pass Interference penalties are 15 yards from the previous spot.  HOWEVER, a penalty for defensive pass interference no longer carries an automatic first down.  If the previous down was 3rd and 20 and there is a DPI penalty called, the next play would be 3rd and 5.    It’s also no longer a loss of down for offensive pass interference either. 

 

Now, what's the difference between a muff and a fumble?

 

Quote

MUFF vs. FUMBLE – These are two terms that are often misused and in the case of the muff rarely used at all particularly by announcers.

   So, what’s the difference?   MUFF – TOUCHING the ball in an attempt to secure possession (kick returner//punt returner).  FUMBLE – losing the ball AFTER possession has been established.

 

Next let's look at Free Kicks (commonly referred to as kickoffs)

Quote

Free kicks (kickoffs) – It’s now illegal for the kicking team to block the receiving team before the kicking team is eligible to recover the kick.      In high school  its illegal for the kicking team to catch the kicked ball in flight.  (KICK CATCHING INTERFERENCE) .    In both college and High school, the kicking team cannot advance the ball until the kick ends.  When does the kick end??  It ends when its POSSESSED by a member of the receiving team or kicking team.   IF a member of the receiving team TOUCHES the kick, the kick is NOT OVER.  The kicking team can now legally recover the ball and retain possession but they CANNOT ADVANCE IT.   This applies to free kicks and scrimmage kicks (Kickoffs and punts).     Onside kicks, the kicking team can recover the kick and retain possession once either the kick travels 10 yards OR the receiving team touches the kick.  That same kick CANNOT be advanced by the kickers.  The ball is dead where they gained possession.[/quote]

Another aspect of the kicking game is FIRST TOUCHING or ILLEGAL TOUCHING. 

Quote

 

What is First touching or ILLEGAL TOUCHING.    First the terms mean the same thing.  First touching is the high school term for it and Illegal touching is the college term.    Neither one carries a distance penalty.   So what is first/illegal touching.   It’s basically the touching of a scrimmage kick or free kick by the kicking team before they are legally allowed to touch it.   For example.  On a kickoff from the 40 (high school) 35 (college), the kicking team touches it after it travels 5 yards from the respective kick off location.     Now, what does it mean?  It means the receiving team can advance the ball basically without consequence.   In other words, if they return the kick for a touchdown, the TD will count and we’ll move on to the try for point.  IF however, the receiving team returns the kick (after the touching) and subsequently fumbles and the kicking team recovers it, then the receiving team can take the result of the play (which they won’t since they lost possession) OR they can take the ball 1st and 10 at the spot of the illegal touching.    Can there be more than one spot of illegal/first touching? Yes.

 

 

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I wish they would allow the defensive player to have equal rights to the ball. In my experience, DPI is called a majority of the time when both are making plays for the ball. OPI is seldom called...and you certainly can't tell them both have equal rights. They hate that.

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several other points to help clear up some things:

Horsecollar tackle – prohibits players from grabbing the INSIDE back or side of the shoulder pads OR jersey of the runner and subsequently pulling that opponent to the ground.  Effective 2017, this now includes the name plate area of the jersey in addition to the inside back or side collar of the jersey or shoulder pads

Targeting.  Any contact above the shoulders against a defenseless player.   The contact does NOT have to be helmet to helmet.  It’s any contact to an opponent ABOVE The shoulders.    Also under the targeting provisions in hitting with the crown (top) of the helmet.  It doesn't matter where the player delivers the blow.  It could be on the opponents knee, in the stomach or anywhere else, if he leads with the top of his helmet its targeting.   This used to be a separate definition and penalty called SPEARING, but they have combined it with the targeting provision in the rule book. 

On a fumble  Here’s a rule many may not know about.   If on 1st, 2nd or 3rd down the offense fumbles and the ball stays inbounds, either team can recover and advance.   However, if its 4th down and the ball is fumbled in advance of the runner, then anybody can recover it, but if the offense recovers it and it wasn’t the player that fumbled it to begin with, the ball still belongs to the offense but returns to the spot of the fumble.     IF the player that actually fumbled the ball, does in fact recover it, it remains where he recovered his own fumble.       If on any down the offense fumbles the ball and it goes out of bounds in advance of the spot of the fumble, then the ball belongs to the offense and is returned to the spot of the fumble.    NONE of these provisions (ball fumbled out of bounds or forward on 4th down) applies on the high school level.  If the ball is fumbled out of bounds it belongs to the team last in possession at that spot.  If it is fumbled forward and the offense recovers it (regardless of which down it is) it belongs to the offense at the spot of the recovery

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Kick-off can be fair caught under any conditions now it seems...best bet is to kick it out of the end zone...or pop it up inside the 20.  

Chances or recovering an one-side kick have now dropped pretty low since if bet very few squib kicks are recovered by the kicking team.  The opportunity for that last second TD after a late game scored are pretty low...nearly zero I'd guess.

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So, if tje player has gotten past you, dive at their legs. Anything else will be a horsecollar....brilliant.

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Here's a new play for everybody to look at...

Opening kickoff between Western Illinois and Wisconsin.  Wisconsin kicks off to Western Illinois.  The kick is approx. 2 yards deep in the endzone.  The returner attempts to field the ball and he muffs (look at previous post for what a muff is if you don't already know) it.  If deflects off his chest, forward to about the half yard line..  The player with his feet still standing on the goal line or in the endzone, reaches out to gain possession of the ball, and pull it back into his body while staying in the endzone.   RULING:  SAFETY.   While the player never left the endzone, the ball did and in college (and high school) the location of the ball is all that matters.   Super easy call here, although they did check the replay to be sure. SAFETY - 2 points for Wisconsin.  Note: In High school rules this is a touchback because kicks can't be run out of the endzone. The kick is blown dead the second it breaks the plane of the goal line and securing possession doesn't matter.

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