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-   -   NFHS Rule 7.5.12 (https://forum.officiating.com/football/45536-nfhs-rule-7-5-12-a.html)

SC Ump Mon Jun 16, 2008 08:49pm

NFHS Rule 7.5.12
 
Quote:

Ineligible A players may not advance beyond the expanded neutral zone on a legal forward pass play before a legal forward pass that crosses the neutral zone is in flight. If B touches the pass in or behind the neutral zone, this restriction is terminated. An ineligible is not illegally downfield if, at the snap, he immed iately contacts a B lineman and the contact does not continue beyond the expanded neutral zone.
My understanding from others is that this last sentence means the ineligible A player may be in the expanded neutral zone only if they are engaged in a block. However, I can find no where that states they are illegally downfield if they are not engaged in a block.

Even the case book play notes a situation where "A1 moves about 3 yards downfield and finding no one to block, retreats behind the neutral zone", noting this is illegal kind of implies that if he had moved on 2 yards downfield there would have been no penalty.

Thoughts? Can a non-engaged A ineligible go into the expanded neutral zone?

Bob M. Tue Jun 17, 2008 09:01am

REPLY: I'll admit, the Fed rule on ineligibles downfield is worded a little squirrelly. The first sentence is meant to restrict ineligibles from proceeding beyond the limit of the expanded neutral zone in all cases. It could probably be worded: "Under no circumstances may ineligibles advance beyond the expanded neutral zone on a legal forward pass play before a legal forward pass that crosses the neutral zone is in flight." The 'under no circumstances' would imply that even though engaged with a defender, he can't go beyond the ENZ.

The second sentence is fine.

The third sentence is the one that really requires some rework, IMHO. It says: "An ineligible is not illegally downfield if, at the snap, he immediately contacts a B lineman and the contact does not continue beyond the expanded neutral zone." That's fine...it tells us what's legal. But that doesn't specifically say that the inverse of the statement is also true, i.e. if he journeys into the ENZ without engaging a defender, then he is illegally downfield. But that really is the intention. If an ineligible goes beyond the neutral zone (even though still in the ENZ) without contacting a defender, before a legal forward pass is in flight, he has fouled. And Table 7-5 (#3) does nothing whatsoever to help clarify the intention.

The situation in the case play you cite is a violation both sentence #1 of the rule, and a violation of the intention of sentence #3 in the rule. I respectfully disagree with your conclusion that since it specifically called out that he was 3 yards beyond the NZ, that it "...kind of implies that if he had moved only 2 yards downfield there would have been no penalty." That would be akin to saying that if a case play identified a grab and twist of the face mask as a foul, that a grab without the twist would be legal (new NCAA rule notwithstanding).

ajmc Tue Jun 17, 2008 09:30am

I guess, if you really insist, you can pick at any pimple and it will eventually bleed. There's really nothing confusing about the Expanded Neutral Zone, unless you want to be confused.

NF 2.28.2 seems pretty clear when it advises, "The NZ may be expanded folowing the snap up to a maximum of 2 yards behind the defensive line of scrimmage, in the field of play, during any scrimmage down."

There doesn't seem to be much of a mystery to what this rule is intended to deal with, simply that a static line (The NZ) which is established while the ball is dead would be impractical to require remaining exactly static when the ball becomes alive considering all that can happen during line play. So the NZ expands to accomodate all the activity that happens with normal line play.

There are many factors in the game of football that have to be measured in inches, expanding the NZ is NOT one of them. You might reason the objective of this rule to simply mean, that if an offensive player doesn't find someone to contact in the NZ is not doing anything wrong, there is no reason for his failure to find someone to contact in the ENZ to be considered any greater problem.

The object of 7.5.12 is to prevent an interior lineman from seeking out a blocking target who is retreating into pass coverage (LB, DB) or to become an obstacle intentionally, or by wandering, into the passing lanes. This is clearly an issue for Advantage/ Disadvantage consideration on anything remotely close to a borderline situation.

SC Ump Tue Jun 17, 2008 06:43pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob M.

... if he journeys into the ENZ without engaging a defender, then he is illegally downfield. But that really is the intention.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ajmc

You might reason the objective of this rule to simply mean...

The object of 7.5.12 is ...

This started out as a "devil's advocate" kind of post, and then I noted the part, "at the snap, he immediately contacts a B lineman." Is that to say if a B back performed a delayed blitz and was blocked by ineligible A who drove him into the the ENZ, this would be a foul? (It was not at the snap, nor immediate, nor against a B lineman.)

This is serious and tongue-in-cheek. I'm wanting to make sure I understand the rule inside and out for the test. I think I know what I would call on the field. (Stickly by the book, of course. ;) )

Rick KY Wed Jun 18, 2008 08:01am

I interpret the rule literally to mean the ineligible A player can be in the ENZ whether he is engaged in blocking or not, but he cannot go beyond the ENZ before the pass is thrown.

Bob M. broke this down sentence by sentence, and I see the third being merely a subset of the first. The second being an exception to the first. Why add the third sentence at all, as it adds nothing to the first.

DrMooreReferee Wed Jun 18, 2008 09:10am

This in an interesting subject and really made me think. But after all is said and done, here's what I think.

The neutral is expanded to allow for normal lineplay. But you don't expand the neutral zone on a player by player basis. Ineligible A players can't go beyond the ENZ, but they may go into it, regardless of whether they're engaged or not. Thats basically what I think, and I know thats how we call it on the field.

Bob M. Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:18am

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rick KY
I interpret the rule literally to mean the ineligible A player can be in the ENZ whether he is engaged in blocking or not, but he cannot go beyond the ENZ before the pass is thrown.

REPLY: Literally, I read the rule the same way. However, I know that the intention of the rule is that ineligibles may not go beyond the neutral zone unless they are engaged with a defender. Then they may go into the expanded neutral zone, but not beyond. I agree that the rules don't specifically say that, but I know that's the intention.

SC Ump Wed Jun 18, 2008 08:17pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrMooreReferee
This in an interesting subject and really made me think.

... and when I do that, that's where my problems start. :D

To all: Thanks for the input.

ODJ Wed Jun 18, 2008 09:30pm

As a practical matter, if the U is 3 yards beyond LOS after stepping up from his 7 yard downfield position at the snap, and the ineligibles are still in front of him, no foul. That's how we call it.


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