Arizona Offense -Illegal Lineman Downfield? Pics

So rewatching game and notice this 3 times in 3rd quarter…

our LB Robinson being blocked downfield in pass coverage…just 3 + yards from LOS

This one went for big gain…Robinson pushed out passing lane and 86 catches it behind him…again 3+ yards past LOS

Again our LB being blocked 3+ yards

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I was hoping the AAC officiating would be better this year what with the partnership with the ACC. I guess not.

Given that it took them until the 3rd quarter to finally call a pass interference against Zona, I have no high hopes for these crews.


Dang!! He might aswell be running a route. I didn’t not even think of that. Maybe that is what CMA got so worked up about, instead of the holding call.

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Pretty sure the rules is no more than 3 yards beyond the neutral zone as a forward pass is crossing the neutral zone in college football.

I feel like if it was that important to strictly enforce right at 3 yards to the inch, they would have more detail about if it’s any part of the body, the whole body, a foot and they would have a ref lined up there to tell easier.

The one I have the biggest issue with is #2 pic…the OL actually moves our LB who was not engaged with him…he’s in pass coverage…and they throw in behind him for a big gain.

After rewatching the game…Zona scheme is tough on our LBs and DBs. They run play action and their OL actually fire out and drive block…and they throw quick off of it. So we can’t read keys…and thus can’t react quickly because you believe they are running ball based on lineman. TAte pulls ball and quick release

I think back in 2015 or so there was a push by coaches to change rule to 1 yard from 3…because offenses were getting very creative with the 3 yard rule. And Defense was at disadvantage


Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern on RPOs and linemen downfield blocking:

“people downfield blocking and the ball being thrown should be illegal, but it’s not”

watch his comments

I was going to say, it’s more complicated when it’s an RPO. They can go beyond the neutral zone if it’s an RPO and the ball is not in the air. That’s the tricky part. Is the QB passing or running? If the QB decides to pull and run it then the O-Line is in position for zone blocking; if the QB decides to throw and they are beyond the neutral zone then the flag needs to come out. It’s a timing technique (look at Clemson and Penn State film) but there are going to be some instances where the refs don’t blow their whistle for no apparent reason. smh

The pass interference against Sprewell at the goal line was a blown call. Sprewell had good coverage, never touched the receiver.


Zona shows it as RPO, but they already know they are passing. But defense can’t make a read because lineman are firing out and drive blocking…which is ok…but not to go out and get a LB whose 3 or 4 yards off los. In the 2nd pic…the OL goes out to Robinson…who was in coverage…never approached los or engaged OL. They are drawing LB with hard play action…which is why you run play action…but it’s not fair if lineman can go downfield. It also can confuse coverage…see guy out corner of your eye and think he’s eligible

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I agree wholeheartedly. All three events were illegal in theory. It’s just the refs may not be paying attention to the window in which they cross the neutral zone, and if the QB is passing or running. They are allotted 2 yards to climb up and if LBs are there they can get hands on them as long as the ball isn’t in the air yet. It’s kind of a gray area in which opens the door for cheating (as you noted above), especially if it’s close (within 3 yards) like the last two pictures.


It really depends on the refs and if they’re any good, or care to acknowledge it. Remembering the score, they probably wanted to help Zona in some capacity.

Nah. It’s hard to see from the replay angle. You have to look really close. He has his left hand on the receivers left arm. The receiver sells it with an extra twist and flop at the end. No left hand on arm equals nothing to sell.

It’s not a neutral zone infraction…the neutral zone rules don’t apply.

Downfield blocking (up to three yards from the LOS) is allowed though, eloquently argued, it should not be.

The pictures show their players right at the 3 yard line and the ball already in the air. In the third pic the play is over (the ball is on the ground and the QB is looking at the sideline for the next play.)

It’s not on the ground…it’s in air between yellow circle and official. The receiver has hands up as ball coming toward him

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@Sidelines It is in regards to the neutral zone because that dictates how far a lineman can be downfield. I posted the rules above.
It’s not that the ball is in the air or on the ground that’s the issue. It’s the window in which you can(run) and can’t(pass) be blocking down field, paired with the ref’s awareness(or give a darn for that matter) that’s the issue. This is what makes the RPO controversial. There’s a gray area because it isn’t a drop back pass or a roll out; when the defense freezes from the mesh point, the lineman are allowed to climb up(if they can do it quickly). If the QB decides to run, the lineman are in position to block, if he throws it, and they are still blocking, they need to be flagged.

As I stated before, all three instances you posted above are illegal( I agree with you), but the refs may not see it that way due to what happens prior to him choosing to pass( RPO mesh point).

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We agree. My opinion…which might be wrong…is that there was no run intention at all. They are doing it intentionally…and walking a fine line…but got away with it. If I’m out LB Robinson and see an OG charging at me…I’m thinking run. They aren’t doing it on long play action passes…they do it on quick slants etc. it’s helping them get in behind LBs. It puts LB in a tough spot…also a SS whose got run support responsibility.
There line is drive blocking as opposed to the traditional thud and pop back you see in traditional play action. The reason they can do is because they know they don’t have pass block because ball is out in 2 seconds. I’m sure they aren’t only ones…if it’s legal…let’s tell Kendall :grinning:

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Yup. That’s the issue. Their intentions are disguised through the mesh point. I have a love/hate ordeal with the RPO methodology but Arizona was clearly cheating regardless of their intentions. Hopefully the officiating higher-ups look at this game and make some corrections.

ACC refs are calling it. 3 penalties for it so far in the Florida State/Syracuse game.


I’m confused. How are they cheating if they didn’t break any rules?