To differentiate itself from the NFL, while providing a level of entertainment to convince fans to watch spring football, the USFL will introduce a new set of rules when it returns this weekend.
Most of the rules in football are standard. Some changes, said Fox Sports acting analyst Mike Pereira, favor the offense in the name of creating more scoring opportunities.
“Fans are the USFL’s top priority, so our rules are designed to give fans the traditional physical sport they know and love,” said Pereira, who serves as the USFL’s acting chief of staff.
Here are some key points to keep in mind when watching the USFL this year.
All kickoffs take place from the 25-yard line; All players on the kicking team must be within a yard of 25. The receiving team must have eight players between the 35- and 45-yard lines. The ball remains alive after traveling a distance of 20 yards. The purpose of these rules is to create the potential for a much larger game with the safety of the players in mind.
Teams will have the option of retaining possession after scoring. This can be achieved by executing a traditional onside kick from 25 or a fourth and -12 game from the 33-yard line. If the team downs first, it continues the possession. If it does not, the defense is in place of the ball.
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Teams have three options after scoring a touchdown:
- one point: Successful kick from the 15-yard line.
- two points: Successful play from scrimmage from the 2-yard line
- three points: Successful scrimmage play from the 10-yard line
The goal of this innovation is to ensure that no game is out of reach in the fourth quarter. It is also one that received positive reviews during the XFL’s brief return in 2020.
“It gives that kind of excitement … even thinking, ‘Okay, 18 points down, I’m still only down two points,'” Pereira said on Fox News this week. “It’s an innovation that I think is going to be really cool.”
All replay decisions will come from the Fox Sports Control Center in Los Angeles. Each coach receives one challenge per game. Replay Command Center also reserves the right to eliminate erroneous personal erroneous calls (passers, facemasks, etc.).
Overtime is a shootout-style competition lasting three rounds. Each team’s offense consists of three plays from the opposing 2-yard line, and two points are awarded for successful plays. The team with the most points after winning three rounds. Overtime continues until one team wins.
“It’s a different approach, a different look for overtime, that we know everyone is talking about,” Pereira said.
DiverseOU to be done
- Defensive pass interference results in a 15-yard penalty (a spot foul if the contact takes place within 15 yards). Intentional pass interference over 15 yards becomes a spot foul.
- Within two minutes of the second and fourth quarters, the clock stops after the first down.
- No offensive pass interference or a ineligible player downfield penalty if the pass does not cross the line of scrimmage.
- Here comes the trick drama. It is no longer illegal to throw two forward passes from behind the line of scrimmage.
- Ring the clock: 35 seconds.
Follow Chris Bambaka on Twitter @BOOMbaca.