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Old Tue Sep 20, 2011, 08:44am
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10 players on offense, Illegal formation

Situation:
I'm the Umpire, in a high school game (FED). Team A comes out to start a series with 10 players. As they break the huddle I count ten, double-take, count again, still have a count of 10.

Just as I signal my count to the wing official, the ball is snapped.

At this point, I know two things:
1) the offense only has 10 players on the field (unless they ran a guy on late, which almost certainly would've been considered illegal substitution).
2) Team A definitely has 4 players in the backfield (QB and three running backs in a wishbone formation, so all 4 backs were in my immediate field of vision as the U.

Should I have thrown a flag for illegal formation? Should I have waited until after the play was over so that I could confer with the wing official on Team A's sideline (to see if they ran a player on late)?
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Old Tue Sep 20, 2011, 08:51am
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Lightbulb Canadian Ruling

Quote:
Originally Posted by jTheUmp View Post
Situation:
I'm the Umpire, in a high school game (FED). Team A comes out to start a series with 10 players. As they break the huddle I count ten, double-take, count again, still have a count of 10.

Just as I signal my count to the wing official, the ball is snapped.

At this point, I know two things:
1) the offense only has 10 players on the field (unless they ran a guy on late, which almost certainly would've been considered illegal substitution).
2) Team A definitely has 4 players in the backfield (QB and three running backs in a wishbone formation, so all 4 backs were in my immediate field of vision as the U.

Should I have thrown a flag for illegal formation? Should I have waited until after the play was over so that I could confer with the wing official on Team A's sideline (to see if they ran a player on late)?
CANADIAN RULING:

Legal, so long as there is still an eligible at each end of the line.
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Old Tue Sep 20, 2011, 09:02am
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Normally that is a wing's call but I'll never turn down help when I can get it. It is a mechanic situation you need to discuss with your crew or local association.
In a wishbone offense, sure you can easily see the backfield but what about pro set, single or double wing or spread formations? Little harder for you to determine who is a back in those circumstances.

My area has the LJ/BJ counting defense and R/U counting offense. HL is on an island count-wise so I have normally tried to count 11 on A as they break the huddle and then deduct the four in the backfield. I also try to pick up the R/U signal as an additional confirmation.

Our mechanic has been to count 7 across and signal such to each other. Now, beginning this season, we are instructed to count and signal for four in the backfield. Personally, I still try to count 11 on A a/o catch the R/U signal.
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Old Tue Sep 20, 2011, 09:18am
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What I do...the R counts his offense: fist straight out if we have 11 there, thumb down if short one, thumb up if there's one (or more) too many. Umpire also counts offense and confirms with same signal...usually as huddle breaks.

BJ counts Defense, with back-up from LJ.

Wings work together on signals with how their end is online or off and count backfield as a backup.

In a 4 man crew, we do the same thing except UMP takes BJ responsibilities on D side. Works for us and that's how I've done it for as long as I can remember.
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Old Tue Sep 20, 2011, 09:22am
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Without specific guidance from your state, I would say to throw the flag, confer with the wing (LM is usually responsible for IF) to confirm 6 on the line, and enforce as appropriate. Wave off the flag if you were wrong.

Oh, and count the players again after the down.
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Old Tue Sep 20, 2011, 09:27am
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Yeah, we do a similar thing... R & U count offense, BJ and LJ count defense.

I'm not asking for advice on how to get the count done. And yes, I know I should've gotten the count quicker. In this case, my count wasn't as quick as I'd have liked because Team A came out directly from the sideline into their offensive formation, so counting the huddle wasn't an option.

My question: throw the flag myself and get confirmation after the play (and wave the flag off if necessary), or wait till after the play ends, confer with the other officials, and then throw the flag (if necessary)?

Either way is gonna look bad, I'm just not sure which one looks "less bad"

As it turned out, Team A ran a sweep that ended up losing a yard anyway, so it's a rather moot point; but still...
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Old Tue Sep 20, 2011, 09:29am
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If you're SURE of both (10 on the field, 4 in the backfield), flag it.

Have noticed more newbies seem to be relying on communicating across the field with his partner to ensure 4 in the backfield (by indicating their wing's status as back or not), but forgetting to look at R for the I've got 11 signal. Good officials count the number on their side of the ball and communicate that way to count 7 on the line - but that seems to be going by the wayside.
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Old Tue Sep 20, 2011, 09:31am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jTheUmp View Post
My question: throw the flag myself and get confirmation after the play (and wave the flag off if necessary), or wait till after the play ends, confer with the other officials, and then throw the flag (if necessary)?

Either way is gonna look bad, I'm just not sure which one looks "less bad"
I don't think it looks bad if you get it right. LM (or whoever) should have had the flag, but perhaps the ball was snapped before he could get a signal from LJ.

Who's going to complain, the A coach? "Coach, if you don't want that flag, get 7 players on the line."

Proper mechanics are designed to get the right eyes looking in the right place most of the time, so that we get the right call. If you get the right call in an unusual situation using non-standard mechanics, so be it.
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Old Tue Sep 20, 2011, 09:59am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbcrowder View Post
If you're SURE of both (10 on the field, 4 in the backfield), flag it.

Have noticed more newbies seem to be relying on communicating across the field with his partner to ensure 4 in the backfield (by indicating their wing's status as back or not), but forgetting to look at R for the I've got 11 signal. Good officials count the number on their side of the ball and communicate that way to count 7 on the line - but that seems to be going by the wayside.
That would make sense for us since the NCAA doesn't require 7 on the line, only no more than 4 in the backfield. As long as they have a max of 4 backs, they're good.

For Fed, I agree with mbyron. Minus specific guidance, drop a flag and confer.
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Old Tue Sep 20, 2011, 10:01am
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Sounds about right.

Part of the issue was that this wasn't my normal crew (new white-hat, normal LJ was working HL, normal HL was working BJ, and a scratch subsitute official working LJ). Had it been my normal crew, we would've gotten it without a problem.

Filed away for future reference.
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Old Tue Sep 20, 2011, 11:07am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jTheUmp View Post
Situation:
I'm the Umpire, in a high school game (FED). Team A comes out to start a series with 10 players. As they break the huddle I count ten, double-take, count again, still have a count of 10.

Just as I signal my count to the wing official, the ball is snapped.

At this point, I know two things:
1) the offense only has 10 players on the field (unless they ran a guy on late, which almost certainly would've been considered illegal substitution).
2) Team A definitely has 4 players in the backfield (QB and three running backs in a wishbone formation, so all 4 backs were in my immediate field of vision as the U.

Should I have thrown a flag for illegal formation? Should I have waited until after the play was over so that I could confer with the wing official on Team A's sideline (to see if they ran a player on late)?
Flag it, and pat yourself on the back for a crew saver if your right. If your wrong, feel like a jerk for fishing in someone else's pond. Welcome to officiating!
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