How to be a College Football Fan, Pt. 3

Well, we've learned the basics about becoming a football fan and learned how the game is played, and today, I bring you Session 3 of:

How to be a College Football Fan 101!
(*Results not guaranteed)

Today's topic is Penalties (what happens when you break the rules):

To help us, I have some pictures (from here) of the guys in the zebra stripes, aka referees, doing the signals for common penalties:

So, in order from Left to Right:
  • Holding - to a new fan, it can look like the big guys (linemen) in the middle of the field do a lot of holding, but there are actually very specific blocking techniques these players use.  When they grab jerseys or pads to prevent a player of the opposite team getting around them, it is a holding call.
    • A holding call usually carries a penalty of losing 10 yards
  • Penalty declined - means that the team who would benefit from the penalty is choosing not to 'punish' the offense (usually because what happened during the play is worse for the other team than the penalty)
    • The other descriptions for this hand signal are fairly self explanatory
  • Pass Interference - similar to holding, it can look like this happens on every pass play, but again, there are legal techniques that defenders can use.  Pushing off, grabbing jerseys, tackling before the ball arrives at the receiver are all examples of this penalty.  The offensive receiver can also be called for pass interference for pushing off or tackling the defender.
    • Pass interference usually carries a penalty of losing 15 yards
  • First Down - not a penalty, but rather what the official signals when the offense has gained 10 or more yards and receives a new set of 4 downs (tries) to do it again
  • Facemasking - defensive players may not tackle an offensive player by grabbing their face mask (the part of their helmet that is bars in front of their nose/mouth)
    • Facemasking carries a penalty of losing 15 yards (and is actually very dangerous)
  • Time Out - again, not a penalty, just a signal that a team (or the TV people - to run ads) have called a time-out
  • Offside - before each play, the offense must line up on one side of the line of scrimmage and the defense must line up on the other.  If any member of either team crosses the line of scrimmage before the football is snapped back to the quarterback it is a penalty.
    • Offside usually carries a penalty of 5 yards
  • Clipping - this usually occurs on kick-offs or punts and happens when a member of the kicking team tackles a member of the receiving team who is not near the ball from behind (kinda sneaks up on 'em)
    • Clipping carries a penalty of 10 yards from where it happened (usually ends up bringing the ball way back from where it would have been though)
  • Touchdown - again, not a penalty, but a signal that points have been scored (or what your dad tells you to signal when you are having a coughing fit)
  • Personal foul - usually occurs after a play is over and involves late hitting, unnecessary roughness, or unsportsmanlike conduct
    • A personal foul carries a penalty of 15 yards (and usually gets the player into a lot of trouble with the coach)
  • Illegal motion - when the teams line up for each play, there are rules for how many offensive players can move and when they can move, everyone must be still before the ball is snapped to the quarterback
    • Illegal motion carries a penalty of 5 yards
Now - gather up your new football gear, settle in at the field or on the couch, gather some of your favorite food and beverages, and have fun!!!!  Enjoy every minute of it, relish the highs and lows, and if you're still looking for a team to cheer for, just say this:

Let's GOOOOOO Mountaineers!!!

And tune in to the Big East Game of the Week Saturday at Noon to cheer on the WVU Mountaineers as they take on the Syracuse Orangemen!

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