Monday, November 10, 2008

Follow-up thoughts on the formation penalty

So the pathetic Pac 10 refs covered their sorry asses after the fact by "clarifying" the call as "illegal formation - not enough men on the line of scrimmage." As you can imagine, this do-over call brings up a number of annoyances.

1. First off, I am not sure I agree with the revised call as not enough men on the line of scrimmage. From all three of the angles below (earliest to latest from top to bottom), it looks like Tucker and Boateng are at the LOS before the snap, with Boateng perhaps the slightest hair off in the first, earliest shot (but that is debatable):

2. There is a logical flaw in the original call that makes it necessarily inconsistent with the revised call. Where no lineman releases (and none did), the original call of illegal man downfield by definition requires a finding that at least two receivers were ON the LOS, but one of them was ineligible. By rule, the players at the LOS who are furthest outside are eligible. Any other receiver both on the LOS and inside of those players, loses his eligibility, i.e. is "covered up."

From the photos, it is clear that the only guy who could have been considered "covered up" and thus illegally downfield, was Ross. That means he had to have been covered up by Boateng (the receiver can only be covered up by a man on his side). That means the refs' original call was that both Ross and Boateng were on the LOS.

So the original call by definition recognized Cal as having 7 men on the line of scrimmage: 5 linemen plus Ross and Boateng. If there were 7 men on the LOS, how can the refs now say they meant to call "not enough men on the line of scrimmage?"

3. If anything, what the refs could perhaps have called is illegal procedure, because Boateng stepped forward slightly toward the LOS, after trying to wave Ross back. This could arguably constitute illegal motion within 1 second of the snap. Pretty debatable call, but at least it would not have been logically inconsistent with their original call.

4. The refs would not have called this penalty had Boateng said nothing. That got the refs' attention, which got the USC coaches' attention, who screamed at the ref. The fact that the ref didn't call out a number pretty much confirms that the ref didn't really know why he was calling it, but knew there was something wrong.

Not blaming Boateng - he had to point it out (though he should have just told Riley to call timeout). But it drives you crazy because Pac 10 refs are dumb enough to have missed this penalty altogether if left to their own devices, but they got tipped off and made a call they didn't even understand. No one notices this kind of thing with WRs. Typically, refs only catch this with TEs and tackles.

5. But the hands down worst part of it all is that this is the QB's job to catch this basic formational problem. QBs know where everyone is supposed to be. Riley should have noticed right away if there was anything "off" about the formation, such as Ross being a hair too close, etc., and fixed it or else call timeout. Especially on a play that Cal had been setting up all night.

This one will eat at Tedford for a long time because he had USC right where he wanted them on that play. You spend a game, and in some ways a season, executing that little screen pass time and again to set up that fake. And then to piss it away on a useless penalty - tragic.


Oski88 said...

I agree with your assessment. i think I have one additional point - the Bears had another guy on the line on the other side, so in fact there were 7 on the line, including Boateng. Ross was clearly eligible and there should have been no penalty.

So the ref was calling an illegal formation, which they called the very next play - only 6 on the line. That was a cover-up call as well, since they were just trying to justify the prior call. It was also BS - there were 7 on the line the next play as well. They finished calling that call after that next play, confident that they protected themselves from the Pac 10 hierarchy. even though the bears came out in the same formation later in the game.

it sickens me - that was the ballgame for the Bears.

California Pete said...

You're right. Ross is clearly a full yard back from the LOS and not covered up. Maybe (maybe!) Tucker is a half-yard back of where he should be, but he's not covering up a tight end so it's immaterial and the refs would never call such a thing. The only question is whether Boateng established LOS position in time. Based on the original call of ineligible receiver, clearly the refs thought he did at the time.

I'm sick of both the Pac-10 refs' incompetence and Pete Carroll's non-stop lobbying of them on the sideline. I sure would like to know when the flag was thrown and by whom--and if there was an envelope full of cash conveniently deposited in the refs' locker room. Even though it will get him in trouble with the league office, I sure hope Tedford rips into the refs at today's press conference. It's a totally different ballgame if that TD stands, as it should have. (And we haven't even mentioned the failure to review SC's first touchdown.)

How is any team ever going to compete with the Trojans in the Pac-10 when they keep getting screwed over like this?

oldblue said...

The refs' calls at that stage of the game were, and remain, frustrating. Yes, a touchdown there would have changed things and put more pressure on USC. However, I am a firm believer that you can never blame a loss on poor officiating. Officiating rarely, if ever, determines who wins and who loses. Has anyone ever heard a team claim they won a game because the refs' calls went their way?

The bottom line is we had plenty of opportunities to generate offense and we failed to execute. Our play calling was excellent but our offense, and primarily our QB's failed to execute. Passes were off target to open receivers. Run blocking failed to allow the fastest tailback in the conference to take more than one or two steps past the line of scrimmage.

Yeah, the refs are substandard. The roughing the passer call in the first half nullified a pick by SC and allowed us to get our only score. If that call had come against us, the hew and cry could have been heard all the way back to Berkeley. Good officiating will certainly help us beat the SC's of the world, but not until we have the ability to generate consistent and potent offense.

Anonymous said...

oldblue, a good example would be the 2006 Oregon-Oklahoma game. It's pretty clear to everyone (even most Ducks fans) that the refs cost Oklahoma the game. It can happen.

danzig said...

SDGoldenbear, what's your username on CGB... also, are you PRD74? If you want to keep it on the DL, email me:

SD said...


Nope, I am not PRD74. Ha ha I wish! I don't have the video skills for that. As for my CGB name, I don't have one, but I'll get one and post on CGB.

SD said...


You are of course right, and I imagine Tedford feels the same way. The offense was too poor to be blaming the officials. The coaches had a superb game plan but we never got to see it work because of pathetic execution. I guess it just sickens me that in a tight game, the refs can be that wrong and still be allowed to take points off the board.

danzig said...


I need a way to contact you because I often delete videos or move them for various reasons, but since I don't know you I can't warn you ahead of time.

Plus Viddler went down... the entire site (prob will be back soon).... so I also have you replacement links for MSU and Syd video.

SD said...

Gotcha - here you go:

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