4 min read

Refs Don't Make Up Rules

Refs Don't Make Up Rules
Photo by Gene Gallin / Unsplash

Last week I was up in Yellowstone and visiting my sister's family. A last minute decision after a Hellion texted me that he was coming up to the game and next thing you know I was driving down the freeway and pulled into the parking lot at 6:45pm, slept at another Hellion's couch for 90 minutes after the game and drove back to Idaho and walked in the door before my kids woke up.

I'm exhausted, but it was worth it.

I do, however, have some points of clarification for the fans around us.

Defensive Holding

There were multiple people after the defensive holding on Lorenzo Fauatea complained that "couldn't be a rule" because "HEY REF! THE DEFENSE DOESN'T BLOCK ANYBODY!" as if the ref was just pulling fake penalties out of his butt.

Of course we're all familiar with holding on a pass play, where the defender grabs the player to prevent them from running their route. This extends to everything the offense does - you cannot grab a player to prevent them from moving to block somebody else (or moving in general). The "defense is allowed to hold" is limited to disengaging with an offensive player you're already in contact with that is trying to block you.

Chop Blocks

Low blocks are a point of emphasis this season (and there have been conversations about how this will affect the Academies to run their triple effectively). As part of rule changes for this season, the only players who can cut block are lineman and stationary backs (think TE/H Back) who engage inside the tackle box.

You can't do it on a screen, or running down the field, or have a receiver in motion take out a DE when the ball is snapped.

BYU got hit twice on defense for this as well - in a crowded area sometimes a sacrificial defensive player will try to blow up the convoy and let somebody else get the tackle. You can't do that - and since it is listed as a point of emphasis for this season, the refs will be watching it like a hawk. So we have to be smarter about it.

Compare Mandell getting called on this play (52:41 mark, he's the corner at the top of the screen):

He dove in front of the lineman with his body and head completely away from the runner.

Now on Jaren's TD Reception (which I initially wondered why they didn't also call that - starting at 2:07):

The defender dove across Kingsley in an attempt to get to Jaren, not just eat up a blocker and he got a hand on Jaren's foot. It was a futile attempt at a tackle, but an attempt was made.

OT Rules Changed Last Year

Starting in 2OT, you have to go for 2. They didn't "not trust Oldroyd".

Starting in 3OT now, you trade 2 point conversions instead of getting a possession starting at the 25. I hate that rule.

Also (not new, but overlooked like coin tosses to start the game), in OT - whoever wins the coin toss gets to choose from 4 options: offense, defense, defend end zone A or B. The loser gets to choose from the remaining two (possession or endzone) after the winner picks.

The loser of the coin toss gets to choose first which of the 4 options they want in even numbered OT periods, while the winner continues in odd numbered periods. You don't automatically alternate.

So here's what happened Saturday:

BYU wins the toss and elects to play defense. Baylor then decided to play away from the ROC  in the north end zone.

In 2OT - Baylor was given the choice of playing offense, defense, or again picking which end zone. They chose to play defense first. This left BYU the decision of which end zone and Kalani chose to make them drive into the students. And the noise cause 2 false starts that helped seal the game.

This doesn't always have to work this way - see the box score from the Houston vs Texas Tech game -  Houston won the toss, elected to go on offense. In 2OT Texas Tech got to choose and elected to start on defense, so the Cougars started both OT periods with the ball.

Other than being a very niche rule clarification (and it's the same for the opening coin toss - the loser gets to choose to start the second half - so if you elect to kickoff rather than defer your decision, you will elect to kick then after the half the other team will get to choose whether they want to kickoff, receive or pick and end zone and then you will end up kicking off twice) - I have a theory.

As we get into Big 12 play with more night games than we had in our MW or WAC eras, and a unified and organized student section, LES becomes extremely difficult to play in. Being in a conference the coaches will become very familiar with it. And while OT games don't happen often (this is just the 4th of Kalani's career) - the day may come when an opposing coach chooses to play away from the ROC and not care about who has the ball first.

Baylor would've been wise to do so and let BYU play defense again to start the second period in the north endzone, but they didn't and their OL could definitely smell what the ROC was cooking.