Here are some plays to test your rules knowledge.
Play One: Following a timeout it is third- and-5 from the opponent’s 45-yard line. Ten players break the huddle from the sideline and run to the hash mark and line up to run a play from scrimmage. The 11th player remains within 1 yard of the sideline as a wide receiver on the line of scrimmage. At the snap, he runs deep and catches a pass for a touchdown. What is the result of this play?
Answer: After a timeout, all players must move inside the numbers, also called the 9-yard marks, to legally participate in the next play. At the snap this play should be whistled dead. The penalty is 5 yards for illegal formation.
Play Two: On third- and-10 from the opponent’s 45-yard line, the coach sends in one substitute player. Two players leave the huddle and run to the sideline. One of those players remains on the field talking to the coach within a foot of the sideline. At the snap, he runs downfield and catches a pass for a touchdown. What is the result of this play?
Answer: This is a “hideout play” and is illegal. The foul is unsportsmanlike conduct for simulated replacements to confuse the opponent. The penalty is 15 yards from the line of scrimmage.
Play Three: On second-and-10 from the opponent’s 40-yard line, the offense lines up in a “swinging gate” formation. Six linemen and two backs are set just inside the left 9-yard mark. The snapper setting over the football at the hash mark is No. 88. A quarterback and running back are lined up 7 yards behind the snapper while a flanker is wide to the right in the backfield. At the snap, the quarterback rolls to his right and throws a forward pass to the player who snapped the football for a 12-yard gain. What is the result of this play?
Answer: Since the snapper of the football is on the end of the line and has an eligible number to receive a forward pass, this is a legal play.
Play Four: Snapping the football from the opponent’s 8-yard line, all the linemen and backs move to the left except for the left guard who takes a forward handoff from the quarterback and runs to the right and turns upfield for a touchdown. Is this a legal play?
Answer: No, the only way an offensive lineman can legally take a forward handoff is for the lineman to turn 180 degrees with movement of both feet, face the other goal line and be at least 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage when he receives the ball. The penalty is 5 yards from the spot of the foul and loss of down.