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Notre Dame Football: Reviewing The Officials’ Calls From The Vanderbilt Game

Why didn’t the zebras throw the flag?

Mike Miller/One Foot Down

Submitted post from OFDer, Clearwall.

Wow, it really has been a long time since I posted one of these. It’s definitely the first one since the regime change. I kind of apologize for the absence, but here we are with a number of comments in recent days that kind of necessitate a return to the ol’ Best Seat in the House. Today, I am going to recap and add my personal opinions about some of the fouls that were called during the Notre Dame Fighting Irish VS Vanderbilt Commodores game as well as highlight some that I think SHOULD have been called and were let go.

First off, let me begin by saying that the crew working this game is very skilled and competent. In no way do my critiques chastise any official nor are my comments meant in any way as an attack on their character and judgement. Often, two officials can see the exact same play and come to different conclusions whether an action constitutes a foul, but I will use my own interpretations as well as the official interpretations of the NCAA and its philosophies to come to my conclusions. So here we go…

1st Q -Missed offensive pass interference

I have fully covered pass interference both Offensive and Defensive here:

Vandy’s TE on the very first play violates two categories of OPI and neither are called. First, he fires out and blocks about 5 yards downfield. Then he pushes off that block to catch the ball for a very moderate gain.

1st Q 10:09 – Ruled completed catch in-bounds

This one went to replay, Terry McAulay commented on it very briefly and succinctly. Vandy’s receiver Lipscomb clearly had an entire foot out of bounds when he caught a ball. Replay reversed the call on the field. I’m surprised the Field Judge didn’t come in with the INC early. The first thing a sideline official should be looking for on a catch near the boundary is the foot, then once the feet are good, look at the ball in possession. The Line Judge was screened by two players in his way, so the F has this call. Pretty big miss, thank God for replay.

1st Q 4:58 – Incomplete catch by OOB player

The correct call was made on the catch itself, however, Miles Boykin stepped out of bounds on his own and was the first player to touch the forward pass. Three things here, the F lost his cushion and he completely turns his back to the play. I don’t know if he even saw Boykin step out. If he did, he should have thrown his hat down to indicate it. He didn’t, so that leads me to believe he missed it. And since he DID step out and was the first to touch the pass, this is actually a FOUL and there should have been a flag thrown.

The enforcement is a loss of down at the previous spot. “But clearwall,” you ask, “what does it matter since the pass was incomplete anyway?” Well, what if the umpire threw a flag for illegal hands to the face on the defense? Without the flag, there is only the defensive foul and ND would have the first down after the play. If the F correctly throws his flag, it would offset any defensive penalty and we’d replay the down.

2nd Q 8:50 – Roughing the Passer not called

McAulay comments on this in the broadcast(btw, I REALLY like him a lot) and he is correct. Contact the the head/neck area by Daelin Hayes. Big miss because it forces Vandy to punt when they would have had an auto first. I think the R and C were told about this at halftime because there were a few RFPs called after half for blows high to the QB.

2nd Q – Injured player allowed to participate

Not a foul here, but missed game administration. If the officials call a timeout to tend to an injured player, there is no way he can play the next down. This is unlike when a helmet comes off and his team can spend a timeout to “buy him back in” or the half ends and the player is allowed to come back in after enough time has elapsed. Rule 3-3-5-1 says:

“He must remain out of the game for at least one down, even if his

team is granted a team timeout.”

I would not have even noticed this, but Tirico mentions it after the commercial break that he was back in the game.

3rd Q – No block in the back called

Remember in the opening paragraph where I said two officials can see the same action and come to different conclusions? This was a comment by McAulay and I just don’t agree. This isn’t a miss by the on-field crew because I agree with a no-call here. I think this is a side block and a good no foul.

3rd Q 0:00 - Late hit not called

We have a philosophy in officiating that we try to work with the players to avoid 5 yard fouls, call all the 10 yarders that affect the play or are at the point of attack, and call every 15 yarder no matter where it is on the field. This is because the major fouls are usually safety-related and are meant to protect players. This was a bad miss by the crew.

This may be a habit too, because they also missed:

4th Q 7:12 – Missed Late hit OOB on kick return

This was the big return by Michael Young. He was ruled down and the whistles blew. He got up to celebrate the play and he was instantly grabbed by the Vandy defense (which isn’t the problem) and taken out of bounds (uh-oh) then thrown into the Vandy bench (needs a flag). This caused a big reaction by the ND players on the field and a scuffle ensued that had to be broken up. Not sure why this crew doesn’t throw late hit flags, but these two were missed and there were a few others that were close during the game that weren’t called as well. These were the biggest.

4Q 11:04 – Play clock malfunction and incorrect OPI call

This is a two-part issue. The first of which is game administration. The play clock was winding down after the TD and inexplicably, they reset it to :25. Kelly came out and was yelling about something and ended up taking a timeout before running the 2-pt play.

Here’s what I think happened here…Kelly wanted the ball spotted on the left hash and was trying to get the officials attention but they were not paying attention to him. So they spotted the ball and our players went to line up on the ball. Finally, an official heard Kelly about the positioning so they moved it. Since the clock was under :20, they bumped it back up, erroneously. Officials are not supposed to honor the positioning request if it was made after the ball is made ready. I think Kelly was upset because he had been trying to request it after the TD but wasn’t honored. The R told him he cannot move the ball since it was already spotted so the only way to get it moved was to take the TO.

Then the play happened, incomplete pass over Boykin’s head. But the head linesman called Claypool for OPI. To put it bluntly, this was not OPI.

Claypool is running a curl route and is contacted by the defense and he does not continue to block the defender. So this is a bad call, but I have a question as to why the H is even flagging this. Claypool is the Side Judge’s key and the action happens in the Back Judge’s area. There is no reason the H should even be looking at this action. If the pass had been caught, I would hope either the S or B would call the H off this flag because it would have taken points that were legally earned off the board.

4th Q 10:23 – Missed Offensive Hold

Khalid Kareem is absolutely mauled by the Vandy RT. Mauling is great for bears, but terrible for offensive linemen because it’s a foul. This one is a takedown that is right at the POA

4th Q 2:04 – Correct Call DPI, MC Offensive Holding

Crunch time has officially begun. Vandy is only trailing by 8 points and has the ball. 4th down and 8 yards to go near midfield. Both Derek Mason and Brian Kelly used the previous timeout on the last down to voice concerns to separate officials, Mason was VERY emphatic on his sideline. Kelly seemed unhappy about what he thought was a hold on 3rd down.

A quick word about that non-call. It was actually correct even though Kareem was absolutely held up. Here is why…with holding, when the offense commits two players to one defender, we will almost never call that foul. Why? Because if the offense is going to trade 2-for-1, they are putting themselves at a disadvantage and the holding has to be HUUUUUUGE and majorly prolonged. So I can totally understand why Kelly was upset. If it had been one on one and the same action occurred, it would be a foul. But since it was 2 defenders on him, it was correctly not called. Back to the DPI/OH….

So the fourth down play goes and Donte Vaughn does not play the ball, grabs the Vandy receiver while the ball is in the air…flag comes in for DPI. Good call there.


Daelin Hayes is absolutely tackled. The LG grabs him by the waist and pulls him to the ground as he’s trying to tackle Shurmur. This missed call should have offset the DPI and 4th down should have been replayed.

Now this is a lot of stuff and I know I’m commenting on all the stuff the guys MISSED but they really got a lot as well. There were some mechanical stuff that I personally don’t like and I wouldn’t do myself. Certain things my commissioner has told us to stop doing, but the ACC maybe continues to do. I can’t comment on those because I’m not in the ACC. Overall, I’d give this crew a C grade. There are a lot of major things that were missed, there were a lot of really good calls and a couple good non-calls as well. Room for improvement, but ND didn’t barely squeak this one out because of poor officiating.