The Alabama-Texas game had a great deal of memorable moments. One play that might have been more memorable if not a flag being thrown was a Jalen Milroe pass that was tipped at the end zone line by a Longhorns defender and fell into the hands of Jermaine Burton for an apparent touchdown. However, a penalty against the Crimson Tide for “lineman downfield” was called.
Alabama's Jalen Milroe scrambles, gets off a throw, narrowly avoids a pick and gets the perfect deflection, with Jermaine Burton catching the ball in the end zone.— The Comeback (@thecomeback) September 10, 2023
Only, the play was called back. Illegal man downfield.
Alabama settled for a FG. pic.twitter.com/sY72gYHhkJ
Before we proceed, the NCAA rule is listed verbatim below:
Ineligible Receiver Downfield
ARTICLE 10. No originally ineligible receiver shall be or have been more than three yards beyond the neutral zone until a passer throws a legal forward pass that crosses the neutral zone. A player is in violation of this rule if any part of their body is beyond the three-yard limit (Exception: If the passer is legally throwing the ball away and the ball lands near or beyond the sideline) (AR7-3-10-I and -III)
PENALTY—Five yards from the previous spot [S37].
You may recall during the broadcast that no good replay of the infraction was shown. As a matter of fact, the only replay aired was the same shot from live action. This despite ESPN having around two dozen cameras focused on the field of play. (?!?!?)
Thus, we are relegated to fuzzy screen grabs. Assuming ESPN’s black line of scrimmage projection is accurate, the ball is about half a yard short of the 15 yard line. Below is a picture of Milroe’s pass almost at the moment the ball “crosses the neutral zone”. [This is the best picture I could get.]
To the right is Dalcourt (red arrow) who appears to be right at 3 yards from the line of scrimmage. At the bottom of the shot is either the Line Judge or a Linesman (yellow arrow) who we have to assume threw the flag. Again, if that line is accurate, he is out of position. For some reason, that official moves a step to his left after the ball is launched.
From his new angle, there is likely a perception of Dalcourt being further away. Additionally due to the lack of replays, we don’t even know when the flag was thrown much less by whom.
Even if my analysis is totally off-base, isn’t this penalty a bit of a nitpicking/borderline call? This foul is less seldom called these days unless the infraction is much more obvious, such as in the Indiana-Indiana State game in which the right guard (#76) basically runs a 7-yard down and out:
A penalty erased it, but this was a dime from Tayven Jackson to Cam Camper for 54 yards pic.twitter.com/eRdHvOiUAt— Video from: @TSV__1 (@TSV__1) September 8, 2023
* Note how the Head Linesman at the bottom of the screen moves into proper position to make this call.
The Alabama penalty wiped a touchdown off the scoreboard and the Tide had to settle for a field goal as the clock expired in the first half. The extra four points would have made a closer game (13-10) as well as change momentum and confidence heading into the locker room.
Alabama had a second touchdown waved off due to a penalty. In the third quarter, left tackle (#74) Kadyn Proctor was flagged for holding. If you want to see this alleged infraction, click here and let me know what you saw. (Video should start at the 1:03:40 mark.)
What do you think (try to be honest)?
Nitpicking/borderline. Should’ve held the flag.