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Auburn Flashback - The Spot 1994


StatTiger
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After viewing the Flashback video of the 2001 Auburn-Vandy game, someone requested a breakdown of Auburn’s fourth-down pass against Alabama during the 1994 Iron Bowl. The Auburn Tigers were driving late in the game in the hope of at least tying the game. Facing a 4th & 3, Auburn attempted a short crossing pattern to Frank Sanders, but the play was ruled short of the line to gain.

Upon reviewing the play, I believe Sanders made the first down, and the official marked him short. I do not think the official intentionally marked Sanders short but slightly changed his direction when an Alabama player nearly ran into him as he attempted to spot the football.

What I did notice about the play was whether or not Frank Sanders caught the football. This play was not subject to review in 1994. Had it been under the current rules, the spot would have been reviewed, but I believe they would have reviewed the reception itself. IMO, the question is not the spot, but whether or not Sanders actually would have been credited for the catch had the play been reviewed.

Reviewing the play, Frank Sanders should have ran his route a yard further up the field. Remember the history of short spots and questionable calls during the history of this series. Again, the play happed so quickly, I do not believe the official was intentionally marking the ball short.

Do you believe Sanders made the distance and do you believe the reception would have counted if the "review" was in place back in 1994?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aPIcfYfNKE&feature=youtu.be

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This is an easy one for me:

The official is obligated to be as precise as possible and this guy knows he got bumped by the bama player and did not reset his placement.   Shows a lack of professionalism or competence.  I am not saying he was a bammer, just saying he didn't care so much.

As for the reception, I don't know if they would have ruled it a catch.   Probably since the ref ruled it was a catch and there is not enough to overrule it.

 

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3 minutes ago, Beaker said:

This is an easy one for me:

The official is obligated to be as precise as possible and this guy knows he got bumped by the bama player and did not reset his placement.   Shows a lack of professionalism or competence.  I am not saying he was a bammer, just saying he didn't care so much.

As for the reception, I don't know if they would have ruled it a catch.   Probably since the ref ruled it was a catch and there is not enough to overrule it.

 

By rule today, Sanders would have been obligated to complete the catch even after making contact with the ground. This is why I think it would be ruled an incompletion after review.

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1 hour ago, CAReeves2010 said:

I think he got the first down with forward progress but the catch would've been overturned, that's if they would rule it a catch on the field today.

I agree. I saw the play back in 1994 but I never thought about the catch itself until yesterday. I guess because it was ruled a catch back then, I never focused on the actual catch. 

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I was at the game and definitely thought it was a first down by forward progress at the time. Remember being really mad that it seemed like it was spotted incorrectly. Never thought about whether it was a catch

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I remember watching this game as a 14 year old.  Auburn played uncharacteristically bad in the first half especially in the secondary where they were normally very solid.  Jay Barker hurt them with big plays in the passing game and then didn’t piss a drop afterwards.  I also remember the offense having a couple of other opportunities to score and blowing them.  One was a pass by Nix that Damien Jefferies batted at the LOS and intercepted.  They really should never have been in that position at the end of the game.

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23 hours ago, StatTiger said:

By rule today, Sanders would have been obligated to complete the catch even after making contact with the ground. This is why I think it would be ruled an incompletion after review.

Hey Stat - how about the whistle that was blown vs UGA in 86, at Auburn on the TD run by Fullwood?  It was a quick whistle and Fullwood busted through, nearly scoring a TD.  Whistle blew the play dead, but would that have been overturned with replay?    As I remember it, he scored or nearly did, but about 50-60 yards were called back and it ultimately was the difference in the game.   That type of play probably can't be challenged at all. 

 

Thanks for the '94 spot review.   Still irritates me.  That one and the ref waiting at Neyland stadium to set the ball down when we needed to spike or get that last play off.   

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21 hours ago, Beaker said:

Hey Stat - how about the whistle that was blown vs UGA in 86, at Auburn on the TD run by Fullwood?  It was a quick whistle and Fullwood busted through, nearly scoring a TD.  Whistle blew the play dead, but would that have been overturned with replay?    As I remember it, he scored or nearly did, but about 50-60 yards were called back and it ultimately was the difference in the game.   That type of play probably can't be challenged at all. 

 

Thanks for the '94 spot review.   Still irritates me.  That one and the ref waiting at Neyland stadium to set the ball down when we needed to spike or get that last play off.   

You are correct, a quick whistle cannot be overturned. That play stunk because Fullwood clearly scored on the play and was never contained on the play.

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A different angle would be needed. But it’s either an incomplete pass or a fumble. I don’t think has has to possess it through the ground because he took two steps after he came down. I can’t tell If he secured it. I think the ball was out before he was down. But he did get enough yardage for a first down. This is the only iron bowl I have ever attended. 

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On 4/26/2020 at 1:27 PM, alexava said:

A different angle would be needed. But it’s either an incomplete pass or a fumble. I don’t think has has to possess it through the ground because he took two steps after he came down. I can’t tell If he secured it. I think the ball was out before he was down. But he did get enough yardage for a first down. This is the only iron bowl I have ever attended. 

I’ve told this story countless times...in the department store, Parisian’s, a couple of weeks after the IB, there was a professional close-up picture from the bammer side of the field (press shot likely), which showed the ball placement in Sanders’ hands AND the 1st down marker. The ball was dead on the 39-yard line...a 1/2 yard ahead of the line to gain.

The owner/manager of the store had the picture blown up to about 4 feet wide and hung it on the wall right above the sporting wear. 

As for possession, given the rules then, he maintained possession through forward progress, then was driven back. That’s why him dropping the ball when he hit the ground didn’t matter.

Even if this game occurred today, the replay ref might not overturn it as it could be argued the ground caused the fumble. Plus it occurred after forward progress.  

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On 4/25/2020 at 11:02 AM, WarEagle1982 said:

I also remember the offense having a couple of other opportunities to score and blowing them.  One was a pass by Nix that Damien Jefferies batted at the LOS and intercepted.  They really should never have been in that position at the end of the game.

The biggest one was the first play of our final drive.

They pinned us with a punt at our own 1-yard line, so we had 99 yards to score. I remember Charlie Trotman saying, “99 yards to score. If you ever wanted to write a script, this is it right here.”

Nix then thew the stop-and-go to Thomas Bailey streaking down the right sideline. He had 2 steps on the DB. If he catches it, he is gone. Nix overthrew him by about 2 yards. It would have gone down as one of the top 5 plays in Auburn history if we had gone on to win. That one still hurts.

Edited by Viper
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2 hours ago, Viper said:

Even if this game occurred today, the replay ref might not overturn it as it could be argued the ground caused the fumble. Plus it occurred after forward progress.  

I showed the video to a friend who is a collegiate official and he said he would have likely ruled the pass as incomplete based on what he could see. He would have liked to see different angles but because he saw no clear advancement of the football, the receiver would be required to control the ball even after hitting the turf. His guess was that the call on the field would stand. He added that my video is skewed (angle) regarding the line to gain. The angle makes it appear he reached the mark but might not be the case if a view straight down the line was available.

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On 4/26/2020 at 2:27 PM, alexava said:

A different angle would be needed. But it’s either an incomplete pass or a fumble. I don’t think has has to possess it through the ground because he took two steps after he came down. I can’t tell If he secured it. I think the ball was out before he was down. But he did get enough yardage for a first down. This is the only iron bowl I have ever attended. 

Here are the two keys based on the current rules...

Part I:

"If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent) he must maintain complete and continuous control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or in the end zone. This is also required for a player attempting to make a catch at the sideline and going to the ground out of bounds. If he loses control of the ball which then touches the ground before he regains control, it is not a catch. If he regains control inbounds prior to the ball touching the ground it is a catch. "

  This part of the rule would apply if there was no advancement of the football.

 

Part II:

“Secures control of a live ball in flight before the ball touches the ground, and touches the ground in bounds with any part of his body, and then maintains control of the ball long enough to enable him to perform an act common to the game, i.e., long enough to pitch or hand the ball, advance it, avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.”

 

  IMO, Part II would be the key in reviewing if Sanders caught the football. He was running laterally on the field. Upon catching the ball, he took two steps, being struck on the second step. By rule, it's not the matter of taking two steps. The key is whether he performed an act common to the game, long enough to advance it. It was a bang-bang play, which makes it difficult to say he clearly advanced the football.

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14 hours ago, StatTiger said:

I showed the video to a friend who is a collegiate official and he said he would have likely ruled the pass as incomplete based on what he could see. He would have liked to see different angles but because he saw no clear advancement of the football, the receiver would be required to control the ball even after hitting the turf. His guess was that the call on the field would stand. He added that my video is skewed (angle) regarding the line to gain. The angle makes it appear he reached the mark but might not be the case if a view straight down the line was available.

Even with forward progress, then being driven back 2-3 yards by defenders? Interesting. I don’t buy it. I believe a replay official would have upheld it because forward progress was achieved, which is typically when officials blow plays dead, not after ball carriers are driven back. At what point is a play supposed to be whistled dead? When a ball carrier is driven back 2? 3? 5? 10 yards back? 

There is zero question had an opposite field camera been available to a replay official. The 4-foot picture I saw of the ball vs. the marker was a clear 1/2 yard. 

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14 hours ago, StatTiger said:

The key is whether he performed an act common to the game, long enough to advance it. It was a bang-bang play, which makes it difficult to say he clearly advanced the football.

Sanders caught it at the 40 (or a foot shy), took 2 steps and advanced it to the 39, but was only given credit to the 39 1/2. Either spot is forward progress with a “football move.”

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3 hours ago, Viper said:

Sanders caught it at the 40 (or a foot shy), took 2 steps and advanced it to the 39, but was only given credit to the 39 1/2. Either spot is forward progress with a “football move.”

I saw the game in 1994 and rewatched the video and edited it but your opinion is noted. To this day, I believe Dez Bryant caught his pass against Green Bay during the 2016 playoffs. I've seen the play a million times and it was ruled a catch on the field. After the review, it was ruled he did not make a catch based on NFL rules.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1khK6is-Bfs&t=120s

The NFL rules on catching a pass have since since changed and the 2016 play would now be a legal catch today.

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4 hours ago, Viper said:

Even with forward progress, then being driven back 2-3 yards by defenders? Interesting. I don’t buy it. I believe a replay official would have upheld it because forward progress was achieved, which is typically when officials blow plays dead, not after ball carriers are driven back. At what point is a play supposed to be whistled dead? When a ball carrier is driven back 2? 3? 5? 10 yards back? 

There is zero question had an opposite field camera been available to a replay official. The 4-foot picture I saw of the ball vs. the marker was a clear 1/2 yard. 

Don't buy what? He said based on what he could see from the video clip I showed him. He added, it would help to see a different angle because Sander's body shields ANY view of Sanders catching and controlling the ball to the ground. The video shows Sanders making what could be a catch but the video also shows he did not maintain control of the ball after hitting the ground. In the video available, there is no conclusive proof Sanders caught and maintained control of the football to the ground. I'm not saying Sanders did not make the catch, I am simply stating it cannot be seen in the video.

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On 4/27/2020 at 3:44 PM, Viper said:

The biggest one was the first play of our final drive.

They pinned us with a punt at our own 1-yard line, so we had 99 yards to score. I remember Charlie Trotman saying, “99 yards to score. If you ever wanted to write a script, this is it right here.”

Nix then thew the stop-and-go to Thomas Bailey streaking down the right sideline. He had 2 steps on the DB. If he catches it, he is gone. Nix overthrew him by about 2 yards. It would have gone down as one of the top 5 plays in Auburn history if we had gone on to win. That one still hurts.

Oh yeah.  I remember that quite well.  

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