Let ‘er rip.

I was prepared to roll my eyes over Tom Fornelli’s piece in which he argues that he wants to ditch the pass interference rules entirely, but found myself reluctantly considering this bit:

You see it in every game. A receiver beats his man off the line of scrimmage. They’re 15 yards downfield now, and the safety isn’t coming to help. The corner is toast, and he knows it. So does the receiver. By now, the quarterback has figured it out as well, and he’s about to unleash a pass that should result in a touchdown.

But then something happens. It might be the result of a weak arm or the quarterback’s lack of confidence in his ability to make the throw. Maybe the QB is scared of overthrowing his target and being the guy who blew what should have been six points. Or perhaps he’s been coached to do it.

Whatever the case — possibly a combination of it all — the QB lets it rip, but it’s not a great throw. It is not a throw that will allow the receiver to run under the ball, gaining further separation, pull the ball in and cruise toward the end zone. The throw is short. Now, instead of running full speed, the receiver has to slow down. In some instances, he has to stop entirely and maybe even turn around completely and come back to the ball…

Let’s keep pass interference, but stop rewarding quarterbacks for making bad throws. Underthrowing your receiver downfield is becoming one of the most efficient ways to pick up a first down, and it needs to stop. I’m calling on the NCAA to implement changes to the pass interference rule. If the targeted receiver slows down or is forced to come back toward the ball due to a bad throw, any contact between the receiver and the defender should be seen as incidental and ignored.

I get his drift there and I can think of plenty of occasions when that’s been the case and it’s pissed me off to watch.  That being said, I can also think of plenty of occasions I’ve seen where that scenario was a result of a skilled quarterback deliberately making that throw to draw the penalty.  By definition, that would be a good throw, wouldn’t it?

Asking a ref to divine intent in order to determine whether a penalty is due is asking too much, even for college football, so I don’t see how Fornelli’s proposal stands a chance.  What do you guys think?



Filed under College Football, Strategery And Mechanics

21 responses to “Let ‘er rip.

  1. As a defensive guy, I should like this, but to give an official something else to make a judgment on.

    How about a better solution? Call offensive pass interference according to the rule and make the penalty 10 yards and a loss of down. It becomes the equivalent of a sack and forces these 6’5” receivers to use skill to get separation rather than being taught to push off like they’re trying to get a rebound.


  2. Granthams replacement

    Eliminate pass interference and holding behind the line of scrimmage (I realized that on passing plays OL in the SEC don’t get flagged for holding now) to balance out offense and defense.


  3. Uglydawg

    The whole P.I. thing is a disgusting mess. National championships and Super Bowls have been determined by zebras getting it wrong by accident and probably sometimes on purpose.
    It needs to be fixed.
    I think the best answer is to make it reviewable and to review every single pass play where there is any contact between the receiver and the defender. AND while we’re dreamin’, have a three person review committee that is approved by both teams (HS coaches, officials, etc. could be used).
    They should be at the stadium and isolated from one another but with access to instant replay…in a booth or something.
    (Actually, they could be anywhere watching the game as long as it’s not “Birmingham”)
    They have thirty seconds to vote.
    Timeout doesn’t even have to be called. As long as they get their vote in by the next snap.
    “Press 1 if you think there was no PI or if you have no opinion”
    “Press 2 If you think there was defensive PI”
    “Press 3 if you think there was offensive PI”
    The decision is instantly shown on the scoreboard and a horn sounds and stops play if two out of three vote for a penalty.
    It would be an improvement…maybe use it for all reviews.


  4. Dawgoholic

    Maybe there should not be a reward for a pass thrown intending to get a penalty and not a completion – so it’s not a “good” throw.


  5. ugafidelis

    Yall’ve got a lot better football eyes than I do if you’ve actually known the quarterback to be deliberately under throwing it at the time. But I digress. Does the booth get to look at the totality of the play and determine whether the under throw was deliberate? Or if it was under thrown becausethe QB was running for his life and was off balance due to pressure? That wouldn’t affect rhe flow of the game at all.


  6. 92 grad

    In the red zone Defenders knowingly use pass interference all the time. Giving the opponent another set of downs creates opportunity for a turnover, penalty, or keeping a sure touchdown pass to 3 points. I think intentional PI on both sides of the ball is no beuno and should be looked at. As we all know though, the referees are horrible. Maybe when they get holding and off sides right they can move on to this kind of stuff.


  7. Gaskilldawg

    Not directly answering the question but the NCAA should evolve to having full time officials. Rather than using 50 year old insurance salesmen running down the field as a par time job, make officials truly professional, younger and in better shape so they can keep up better.


    • No question, going to full time, professionals will upgrade the results we see. It would also standardize the calls if officials were “national”, and not run by each conference. Assigning them from a national pool would also eliminate the regional bias and conflict of interest situations prevalent in today’s game. In the SEC, it would get rid of the “Birmingham bias” that every team, except one, complains about. Schools should also have a veto/blackball, or two, against assigned officials where there have been issues, or public comments, in the past. (If I were Kirby, I would block Penn Wages and the Big14 crew from last January as the first two on my list.

      Unfortunately, PI calls are also the ones most missed by the professionals in the NFL. It is the toughest to get right, and would continue to be, but at least it could be more consistent. There is plenty of money in D1 football to pay for this upgrade, and additional travel.


  8. The only “on purpose” underthrows I’m aware of are those back shoulder sideline passes that have become so popular. However, I do agree that offensive “push-off” interference should be called a lot more often than it is called.


  9. back9k9

    I think these somewhat even out with how often the DB “hooks” the trail arm of the receiver and doesn’t get called.

    It would be nice if there was some quick review but GAWD! could you imagine how much MORE time a game would take if they reviewed every closely contested pass?


  10. Reverend Whitewall

    It’s a valid point, but man, that seems like an enormous can of worms to be opening. I mean if the receiver actually has to come back for the ball, that’s a fairly clear play. But if the receiver just has to slow down for the ball – where is the line there? Even a well thrown ball, the receiver might have to alter his last stride or two, to adjust to the ball. I don’t see how you can expect every deep pass to hit a guy perfectly in stride, or else downfield contact is a free for all.

    The only way I could see this passing is if there is some hard line there that is easy to judge, like the receiver had to completely stop his forward trajectory and wait and/or come back for the ball. But if the receiver is still moving forward when the ball arrives, even if he’s had to slow down, I’m not sure I can get on board with that part.


  11. Mick Jagger

    Like many things, this looks good on paper, but would be hard to determine intent.

    Theory vs. reality


  12. hodgie

    “Underthrowing your receiver downfield is becoming one of the most efficient ways to pick up a first down…” i’m gonna need some stats and evidence. i don’t believe this. i do believe it is an effective way to get a first down though. also, the “underthrow” is an effective way of taking advantage of a defender who is playing trail technique. if you remove all doubt from him that he is going to receive a penalty for pass interference on the underthrow, well be prepared to see a totally different and ugly football game.


  13. Derek

    He is describing Lambert’s first pass against Alabama in 2015?

    The biggest issue with pass interference calls in my view is the lack of consistency. Sometimes a guy gets called for hardly any contact and then sometimes an assault takes place and nothing.

    Also, the offensive player can interfere with the defender with near immunity. If the defender is in position to make a pick, the receiver can literally tackle the db without a flag. Only a very few push offs to get open are called, despite the fact they happen on nearly every play.

    If it’s called consistently and fairly I have no problem with a beaten defender getting a flag.

    The ultimate issue is that non-football fans, but who watch football and raise the price of advertising, think games like the Super Bowl are boring because of a lack of scoring. To me that was one of the best Super Bowls I’d seen in a while. Defensive football is great football. But as long as that’s the minority view, the refs will be instructed to favor the offense to encourage scoring.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hal Welch

    Pretty simply put… if the QB knows he can’t get the penalty by making the “bad” throw on purpose then maybe he’ll stop throwing that ball that way.


  15. Read like something the word lizards at the ajc would post, not worthy of a good fart, let alone camode reading


  16. So would this effectively make the curl route illegal? The receiver stops and comes back toward the QB on this route. It checks all the criteria mentioned.


  17. UGA '97

    Here’s how to handle that… let it stay so corners can just pick it off. Easier said but…1 turn over is worth way more than 4 or less interference calls since long throws means other teams are never across the 50 yet. 2 turnovers, we’ll then that QB ain’t gonna be in the game to throw again .


  18. Hobnail_Boot

    What’s truly broken is the NFL rule making it a spot-foul. It assumes a catch, which is absurd.


  19. 69Dawg

    Well as long as we are discussing bad calls on pass plays, lets not forget the most over used illegal call on the goal line “The Pick Play”. The only way this is ever called, and then even rarely, is if the offensive guy drive blocks the defender. A famous case was the ND FSU game were the FSU coach kept bitching about ND’s use of it until the refs finally called it and negated a ND TD.
    I agree if the NCAA or SEC was even sort of interested in having less offense, the refs would call more push offs and other offensive pass interference. They won’t because they allow wholesale holding by the Olines with only a rare call. Lets face it offense is what most fans want and the refs can control that easily. Thank goodness the NCAA never adopted the NFL spot foul rule or college games would have basketball scores.