Zebra Cakes

Submitted by The Shredder on October 10th, 2018 at 9:52 PM

Greetings from "I Have No Time because I have three kids world!" I'm back!... for now.

There has been a lot made of the officiating in recent week(or every week). I happen to know a white hat Zebra Cake from a big time conference who of course will remain nameless. I'm always texting him during the week asking about calls and plays from the Michigan game. I figured I might as well post something useful for once.

The Gary Tug

Zebra Cake:

I got nothing on that. First, the defender plays right through the block. There wasn't a step taken away or anything.

Shredder: So even though he gets grabbed from behind it doesn't matter? It's just about the first step?

Zebra Cake: He plays through it. There isn't a restriction.

Shredder: So if he falls backwards then? I just want to understand how these things are called/viewed.

Zebra Cake: There are a lot of things that play into it. He's grab, sure, but he plays through it. There has to be a material restriction...a shoulder dip, taking a step away, things like that. Shows us you're getting held

Shredder: So a simple grab doesn't equal holding...Interesting. See, not many would know that. They see it black and white.

Chase Double Team

Zebra Cake: Its a double team so my eyes are leaving that block at that point. It appears he slips, but once I see the double team, I'm moving on

Shredder: Why are you moving on?

Zebra Cake: You will never see an official throw a flag for holding on a double team, you move onto the next threat or priority.

Hidgon Holding

Shredder: ??????

Zebra Cake: I got nothing, its bad. I'm sure we will be discussing this.

Play Clock

Shredder: So its not like a shot clock in basketball?

Zebra Cake:

No not all. The B can't see the clock and the ball snapped at the same time. So it's one of those where they watch the clock, if it hits zero, they then look down at the ball. If it's being snapped, it's not a foul. If they aren't snapping it, it's a foul.

Shredder: Thanks for giving us some thoughts on these plays, it seems like football officiating is full of gray.

Zebra Cake: No problem, There is so much gray area in football officiating. Nothing is black and white. That's what separate the good ones from the average ones, the guys that can navigate the gray area



October 11th, 2018 at 7:50 AM ^

i understand its the mechanic they teach, my question is really 'why, and based on what logic?' because its just not that difficult to watch that stuff, particularly if its at the point of attack.  i played a lot of football and have coached for years, and have never heard that quasi-rule.  i would love to get a more full explanation. 

in any case, it is cool that you would share this stuff, very topical.  thanks. 

EDIT:  i would add that if i knew that no double would be called for holding, well, katie-bar-the-door b/c that'd be what i'd teach all my players...take 'em down! 


October 11th, 2018 at 11:32 AM ^

I think the main thesis is that a crew can't possibly monitor every point of contact between 22 players and keep watching all of those points for the entire duration of a play.  They have to scan and hone in on certain areas as things develop.  They have to play the percentages on where a consequential penalty is most likely to occur and place their focus there.  This includes the type of play being run, the blocking scheme that's unfolding, etc.

Holding is most likely to occur when an O-lineman is over-matched and getting beat.  A double team reduces the likelihood that an O-lineman will need to grab (since he's got help) so the refs turn their focus elsewhere.  They've only got so much attention to go around.

That's how you'd want it as a coach as well.  If they can only watch so many things then you want them prioritizing where the holds are more likely to occur (one-on-one match-ups vs. double teams) as well as holds that effect the play more directly.  I'm sure they'd still call a blatant hold, even with a double-team, on an edge play where the contain defender gets pulled down.  But they're not going to focus on a possible hold on your 3-tech who is being double teamed on that same play.  They're going to notice that the 3-tech is being doubled, while also recognizing that its a run attacking the edge, and then (hopefully) immediately focus on the ends and contain players looking for infractions there.  You don't want them staring at the 3-tech double team, to see if one of the O-lineman holds, and miss your contain player getting tackled.  

That's why its so infuriating when they call a ticky tack hold on your backside tight-end that was completely inconsequential to the play.  It's like "why are you even focusing on that?  The play went the complete opposite way!!"  Part of being a good ref is picking your spots, knowing where to watch, because you can't possibly see everything.  You have to prioritize.  


October 11th, 2018 at 4:51 AM ^

This is awesome, thank you.

The 'restriction' bit is a real eye-opener. If a dude is strong enough that he doesn't appear to be restricted, then it's not called. But the idea that he's going just as fast as he would without the jersey tug is pretty much impossible, so isn't this, by definition, a restriction? Maybe I'm not understanding what he means. 


October 11th, 2018 at 8:24 AM ^

So, incredible as it seems, the ref is saying that our DL doesn't get calls because they 1. Are Too Good and 2. Have too much discipline/self-respect to collapse like a soccer player shot by a sniper when they're actually fouled. 

Based on the Holding Graph, that is borne out. 

But let me take the opportunity to say to that:

"What the fucking fuck?"

The Shredder

October 11th, 2018 at 8:52 AM ^

I didn't even ask about that table of holding numbers.. That's how the rule is written. It's basically worded like that so we don't have a holding call every other snap. They aren't throwing flags on tugs if you just play through it without it effecting you much. If you think back to most holding calls it's pretty much guys getting tackled to the ground and it's always something that effects the rusher substantially. 

Arb lover

October 11th, 2018 at 8:32 AM ^

Interesting. Two plausible reasons why Gary doesn't get a holding call in his favor on (at least) every series.

1) Lack of obvious reduction in movement when he only has one defender on him

2) Many many double teams


October 11th, 2018 at 9:00 AM ^

i fixed your formatting issues. For future reference, remove all <span> because that doesn't play well with our site. Youtube embeds should be 100% width and 405 height.


October 11th, 2018 at 4:19 PM ^

Since you say "major conference," I assume your WH friend is working in an 8-man crew?  What he says about double teaming surprises me.  If it were a 7-man crew (like in lower divisions of the NCAA) or a 6-man crew (like in HS), that's understandable, of course--it's the difference between having 3 officials (out of 8) watching the line play versus 2 officials (out of 6 or 7).

Since so many "chop blocks" are called at the NCAA level, and those all involve a double team by definition, I'm a bit curious about his statement that he doesn't pay as much attention to the double teams.

SD Larry

October 11th, 2018 at 10:50 PM ^

There is no reason the official who made this call should continue officiating games in the Big Ten unless he has some explanation for the call. You have to wonder what his explanation is for making this call.  


October 15th, 2018 at 10:44 AM ^

Not sure if you will see this Shredder, but I don't think it's worthy of a post to ask you. I would be interested if you could get your ref friend to give his opinion on the roughing the snapper penalty in the 3rd quarter. It really was a turning point in the game, and I would be interested to hear an objective/well-informed opinion on it.